SymbolismDefinition of SymbolismSymbolisms are used by most of


Definition of Symbolism

Symbolisms are used by most of the authors to create a deeper meaning to a story using an object or a character. These are used to give a meaning to the text beyond the thing’s literal meaning. Symbolisms can also enhance a theme, idea, or a character.

Six Main Symbols used in the Lord of the Flies

The Conch Shell

This symbol used in the Lord of the Flies is very important because it symbolizes civilization, power, and order among the boys in the beginning of the novel.

The shell was effectively used during the meetings of the boys since it was used to call the boys to gather and also that only the one who holds the conch had the right to speak. This was also the reason behind why Ralph became the chief of the boys since he was the one to use the conch and call the boys which could be reinforced when the narrator said that “But there was a stillness about Ralph as he sat that marked him out: there was his size, and attractive appearance; and most obscurely, yet most powerfully, there was the conch.

”. It is like the “megaphone” which was used by grownups to have control over the boys before their plane was shot down to the island. The conch was directly used to symbolize order and civilization because until it was present there was some order and civility among the boys which was fully lost when Roger released the lever causing the rock to smash “the conch … to powder” and killing Piggy through the big rock.

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The message that William Golding was trying to express with it is that as long as their are civilization and order among the people, everything would be alright but when someone loses this, chaos starts to build up.

Piggy’s glasses

Piggy’s Glasses represent science and technology, and man’s ability to use it according to his needs. Piggy’s Glasses were very important in the story since it was used to create fire as said by jack “His specs–use them as burning glasses!”, without those it was almost impossible for them to be rescued unless miraculously a boat or ship comes to the island and also that the boys had to rely just on fruits and vegetables until they were rescued because they won’t be able to cook. Piggy’s glasses also represented his own power and sight because when Jack stole Piggy’s glasses, Piggy became powerless which ultimately lead to his death as he did not see the big rock coming. Jack abused the use of technology when he created fire to smoke out Ralph from his hideout and kill him. He did not think that doing that they would not have anything to eat after the whole island burns up but luckily they were rescued since a naval officer saw the island on fire. The message that William Golding was trying to express with this symbol is that the things that man invented should be used wisely to lessen man’s work not to abuse it and harm somebody. The glasses were directly used to represent science and technology since the boy’s prior knowledge about what glasses can do made them able to create fire.


Fire also represents technology but could cause enormous destruction if not controlled just like the bombs used in wars. It does represent technology because fire is needed to make most of the things that we have today like metal and jewelleries, while in the novel it is used to create signal fire and to cook their food. It also represents the boys connection to the civilized world from where they are set apart as they use it to signal passing ships or boats for their rescue which was presented by ralph to the boys as he said that “If a ship comes near the island they may not notice us. So we must make smoke on top of the mountain. We must make a fire.”. This is very important since that was their only way to be rescued from the island. The message that William Golding is trying to express through the fire is that everything that man could make should be in control to prevent any future complications. This symbol is indirectly used to represent technology but directly used to present the boys connection to the civilized world since they are using it to get back from where they came.

Lord of the Flies

The Lord of the Flies or the pig’s head on the spear symbolizes the Devil himself, even the literal meaning of it if translated back to Hebrew is “Beelzebub” which is identified as the Devil in the New Testament. It represents the beast inside the boys which make them savages which could be reinforced as the lord of the flies said that “You knew, didn’t you? I’m part of you? Close, close, close! I’m the reason why it’s no go? Why things are what they are?”. It also said that “You know perfectly well you’ll only meet me down there–so don’t try to escape!” which foreshadowed Simon’s death as it meant that if Simon leaves he would meet the beast down at the shore as well where he would be killed. The Lord of the Flies kind of also told Simon who would kill him by saying that “we shall do you? See? Jack and Roger and Maurice and Robert and Bill and Piggy and Ralph. Do you. See?”. This is an important symbol in the novel because it is the one to clearly reveal to the audience about the real beast in the story. The message that William Golding is trying to convey through the Lord of the Flies is that man is essentially evil without any moral and social constraints which could be seen in the boys when they turn into savages. This was indirectly used to represent the evil within the boys themselves.

The Dead Parachutist

The dead parachutist represented the grownups also unable to discuss and solve their problems. He also symbolizes evil traits in the man himself because he also came from the war trying to kill but ended up dying. This was also important because it was showed again to the audience that even the grownups don’t sit and discuss their problems to find solutions in contrast to what piggy said “Grown-ups know things … They ain’t afraid of the dark. They’d meet and have tea and discuss. Then things’ud be alright”. This was also the sign that Ralph asked for as he said that “If only they could get a message to us … If only they could send us something grown up … a sign or something.”, even though a grown-up arrived in the island their problems did not solve but got even worse. William Golding is trying to deliver his message to the people that war and savagery isn’t the solution to the problems that man face, people should sit together having a tea or something and find a non violent solution to their problems. This symbol is used indirectly because the boys thought that it was the beast and was not able to figure out what to do to avoid savagery except Simon who knew that the beast existed inside themselves but was killed because of the evil within the other boys.

Jack and Roger

Jack and Roger symbolizes the evil and savagery instincts in man himself because Jack created his own tribe where all of them became savage. Roger also symbolizes evilness in man’s nature because he was the one to kill Piggy and destroy the conch which symbolized civility and order. So at that time civility and order were completely vanished from the boys, they had turned into real savages. These two characters are important to represent human beings on a smaller level since it is only the social and moral constraints that restrict the beast to come out from the people. Jack and Roger became savages as they continued to live in the island. Jack at first even said that “I agree with Ralph. We’ve got to have rules and obey them. After all, we’re not savages.” but soon as he went into savagery he started to break rules and said that “Who cares?”. Roger also started throwing rocks at a smaller level as he “stooped, picked up a stone, aimed, and threw it at Henry– threw it to miss.” which grew up to a level where he released the lever of the big rock and killed Piggy. The message that William golding is trying to express through Jack and Roger is that man’s evilness would come out in anyway if there is no restriction on him.

Significance of the mask

“He capered toward Bill, and the mask was a thing on its own, behind which Jack hid, liberated from shame and self-consciousness.” (page 66)

“The mask compelled them” (page 67)

“He pushed his hair up and gazed at the green and black mask before him, trying to remember what Jack looked like.” (page 197)

The significance of the mask is that it hides one’s true identity and reveals the inner self of the person. Literally the mask is used for the hunters to camouflage and hunt the pigs but having the mask makes them a complete different being. They are trying to camouflage with the animals so when they hunt the pigs won’t be scared and run away but having those masks really makes them like an animal as they have become uncivilized and turn into savages. The mask symbolizes every man’s inner beast or hidden savagery. Just like in the first quote above behind the mask Jack hid, free from shame and self-consciousness to reveal his inner beast. The mask even compelled the other boys wearing them to reveal their savagery. Even Ralph wasn’t able to recognize him when he went to their place as he tried to “remember what Jack looked like.” because of Jack’s mask hiding his true identity

Symbolism Card of Conch

The conch represents civility, power and order among the people. It is also like a symbol for democracy where everyone has the freedom to speak and share their own beliefs which is also shown in the novel as Ralph says “We’ll have to have ‘Hands up’ like at school … I’ll give the conch to the next person to speak. He can hold it when he’s speaking … And he won’t be interrupted: Except by me” Ralph is like a parliament speaker who maintains order in the parliament. The conch is also used like a megaphone which was used by the adults at the airport or airplane to gain the boys attention, or to say something to the large crowd. Ralph calling the boys with a conch also seem like “The man with a trumpet-thing–” at the airport. Since conch is also a symbol for power, Ralph was chosen to be the chief of the boys even though “the most obvious leader was Jack. But there was a stillness about Ralph as he sat that marked him out: there was his size, and attractive appearance; and most obscurely, yet most powerfully, there was the conch.”. The boys started to lose civility when jack said that “Conch! Conch!” shouted Jack. “We don’t need the conch any more. We know who ought to say things.” since the conch also started to lose it’s value. When the conch was destroyed by Roger all the civility, and order remained in the boys was completely lost causing the boys to have more chaos.

By: Sagar Talwar

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SymbolismDefinition of SymbolismSymbolisms are used by most of. (2019, Nov 27). Retrieved from

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