William Golding's “Lord of the Flies” is a masterpiece of modern literature, a novel that has inspired and challenged readers for generations. One of the central images in the book is the conch, a large shell that the boys find on the island and that they use as a kind of tool for communication and organization. But the conch is much more than just a practical object. It is a powerful symbol that represents many of the book's most important themes and ideas.

First and foremost, the conch represents order and civilization. When the boys first find the shell, they use it to call a meeting, and they quickly establish the rule that only the person holding the conch can speak. This system works well at first, and it allows the boys to discuss important issues and make decisions in a rational and democratic way. But as time goes on and the boys become more savage and violent, the conch loses its power. By the end of the book, it is shattered and forgotten, a symbol of the complete breakdown of order and civilization on the island.

Another important aspect of the conch's symbolism is its connection to the idea of democracy and the rule of law. When the boys use the shell to call a meeting, they are essentially creating a miniature government. They are agreeing to work together, to listen to each other, and to make decisions based on the will of the majority. This is a powerful idea, and it is one that Golding explores in depth throughout the book. But as with order and civilization, the conch's power to represent democracy and law fades as the boys become more savage and violent. By the end of the book, the boys are ruled by fear, chaos, and the law of the jungle.

The conch also has a deeper, more symbolic meaning that goes beyond its practical uses in the book. It is a symbol of the boys' connection to the outside world, to civilization and society. When they first find the shell, they are still connected to the world they left behind. They still believe in the values and ideals of their old lives, and they are trying to recreate them on the island. But as they become more savage and violent, they lose this connection. They forget about the world outside, and they become completely absorbed in their own violent, primitive world.

Finally, the conch is a symbol of hope and salvation. Throughout the book, the boys look to the shell as a source of comfort and guidance. They believe that as long as they have the conch, they will be able to find a way off the island and back to civilization. But as the book progresses, this hope fades. The shell becomes less and less powerful, and the boys lose faith in their ability to escape. By the end of the book, the conch is shattered, and the boys are left with no hope and no salvation.

In conclusion, the symbolism of the conch in “Lord of the Flies” is complex and multi-layered. It represents order and civilization, democracy and law, connection to the outside world, and hope and salvation. But as the boys become more savage and violent, the conch loses its power and its ability to represent these things. By the end of the book, it is shattered and forgotten, a symbol of the complete breakdown of order and civilization on the island. Golding's use of the conch as a symbol is masterful, and it adds depth and richness to an already powerful and thought-provoking book.