Monday, January 21, 2008

Symbols: The Conch and Piggy’s Glasses


The first symbol I’m going to talk about is the conch =]

1.) “We can use this to call the others. Have a meeting. They’ll come when they hear this” pg.22. We first see the conch in chapter one, when Piggy tells Ralph that you can blow in it like a horn and they decide that anyone else on the island will come when they hear it. Here the conch symbolizes the force that brought all the boys together. It can also symbolize what made Ralph the leader of the boys, because he was mainly elected for being the one to blow the conch and bring them together.

2.)”I’ll give the conch to the next person to speak. He can hold it when he’s speaking.” Pg. 43. The conch is also used when Ralph is setting the rules for the island, at this point it symbolizes democracy because Ralph is using it to make sure that all the boys will be treated equally and fairly. Like in the quote where he wants to make sure that everyone will get a chance to be heard.

3.) Later on in the novel when Jack has started his own tribe of boys, the conch begins to symbolize loyalty to Ralph, especially for Piggy who is terrified of what would happen to him if Jack was in charge of everyone. Piggy starts to cling to the conch because he feels that it keeps the group of boys that are left together. On page 207 after the hunters came and stole Piggy’s glasses, Piggy tells Ralph “I thought they wanted the conch.” But of course Jack has no interest in the conch because none of the things it symbolizes are of any importance to him; he doesn’t want to be democratic, he doesn’t care that it was what brought them all together and he certainly has no loyalty to Ralph anymore.

4.) The final thing the conch symbolizes is the last part of civilized life the boys see on the island. Even though most of the boys have joined Jack’s group, Piggy and Sam’n’eric stay with Ralph and aren’t acting like savages the way the hunters are. The conch shows this because we see that as soon as the conch is destroyed, all the boys seem to be savages, except Ralph of course. Piggy is killed and Sam’n’eric are forced to join the hunters, the savages plan to get rid of the last civilized person on the island too. We can notice that all this happens almost as soon as the conch is smashed. “There isn’t a tribe for you anymore. The conch is gone-.” Pg 223

Now I’m going to talk about the symbolism of Piggy’s glasses.

1.) Piggy is one of the first characters we meet when we start reading the Lord of the Flies. When he is described to us, the author mentions that fact that he wears glasses right away. “He came forward, searching out safe lodgements for his feet, and then looked up through thick spectacles.” pg 12. Generally, you wouldn’t think this is such an important detail, but because of their symbolism in this case it is. One thing that his “specs” symbolize is the intelligence within the group of boys. We can notice that Piggy is the only boy in the group who needs to wear glasses similarly he also seems to be the one who has all the good ideas although he is not always given credit for them. Piggy is technically the one who brings the boys together because he tells Ralph to blow in the conch, although Ralph basically takes the credit for it later on.

2.) The glasses are again singled out when the boys are trying to light a fire to attract any ships nearby. They are unable to start it using sticks or stones, but they easily light it when they use Piggy’s glasses to direct the sunlight onto the pile of wood. At this point the glasses symbolize an attachment to civilization because we tend to associate fire with a civilized society. When they are used for this they can also symbolize Piggy’s contribution to the group; since he generally can’t help in ways that involve physical activity because of his weight and his asthma so allowing the boys to use his glasses shows that he is still helping them in their attempts to be rescued. “His specs-use them as burning glasses!” pg 52.

3.) Piggy’s glasses are also used to symbolize his weakness that allows the boys to pick on him so frequently. He stands out for being the only one to wear glasses (not to mention his weight and his asthma) not that there’s any excuse for picking on him for those reasons but for the boys that’s a good enough reason. We also see that when Piggy doesn’t have his glasses on he’s almost completely blind and therefore also quite vulnerable. There are a few times in the story when Piggy describes what it’s like to not have his glasses on. One time is when Jack takes them from him to light the fire, and the other time is when Jack takes them to light the fire for his own tribe of boys (notice the common denominator here!). Piggy says “Jus’ blurs, that’s all. Hardly see my hand-.” Pg 53. This shows us that the boys could probably do anything they want to him when they have his specs, which is sad but Jack is definitely mean enough to do it.

4.) The last thing that Piggy’s glasses represent (the last one I’m going to talk about anyways) is the balance of things on the Island that is so easy to upset. Things are going ok on the island until Jack lets the fire go out because he was hunting and a ship passes them. When they are arguing over this, Jack smacks Piggy in the head and his glasses are knocked off and one lens breaks. "I got to have them specs. Now I only got one eye." pg. 90. This is the first time we see that maybe Jack isn’t so nice, and as we know we keep seeing this more and more until it gets to an extreme. The glasses show this because the glass in the lens is easy to break, just like the peace on the island turns out to be. And when you break half of something, like one lens of the glasses, it usually doesn’t take long for the other half to follow. This turns out to be true in the novel because the situation on the island gets much worse and I think that Piggy’s other lens got destroyed in the end. The author never really mentions it, but in all the commotion to find Ralph they were probably dropped and Piggy is killed and he is kind of linked to the glasses. Maybe they were left on the island and forgotten when they all got on the ship just like their owner.

-Christina

22 comments:

Jasveen said...

I really like the fact that the author mentions Piggy's glasses which foreshadows it's uses on this island. Oh by the way at first when he mentioned that his name is Piggy I really thought that this book is based on animals and I heard rumours from my cousin that there is a allien at the end but he was wrong instead it was the dead parachutist =:)

amira said...

I must admit that there's something about those glasses that makes me like them! When they get broken, I remembered the time that my glasses got broken and how I had to cope with bad vision until i got them repaired. In those 2 days, it felt like everything was collapsing. Who would have thought that the blackboard was so important or those overheads? Piggy's glasses really did have great significance in the book!

Christina said...

When I was in grade 3 and 4 I broke my glasses so many times! The repair guy and I were on a first name basis and my Dad wanted to get me those really thick ones like for squash so they wouldn't break so often. :P

Caroline said...

I absolutely agree with you. Not only Piggy's glasses are used for those purposes throughout the storyline, as they are also used to make the reader sympathetic toward him (as he can be considered the weakest link of the group). In my opinion, this fact makes us feel particularly angry and resentful towards Jack and his tribe when Piggy is killed. I believe that this fact is another demonstration of William Golding's incomparable brilliance, since he incorporates this extremely important detail in the novel as a mere physical characteristic of Piggy. By the way, in this analysis you have certainly managed to look into a lot of depth on what a small item signifies in relation to both the character and the entire plot, which is not an easy task. Well done!

Anonymous said...

Good quotes I'm going to use them for my english project. In the mean time why don't you get some more, I don't want to have to look them up for myself.

Chantel said...

I just finished reading this book and it has a really good meaning behind it. Especially the part where the hunters kill Simon because they think that he is the beast. That represents the sin on the island that is being destroyed. I dont know if anyone noticed that.

Annie K. said...

Wow this is a great website =) great job guys!

PIGGY_PORNO said...

MMMM PORN

BIGDICKDAVE said...

this is the reaction your girlfriendd makes when you just told her you have an STD in bed

I SET MY FRIENDS ON FIRE BITCHHH!

KKKforlife said...

is chantel a nigga?

bombafganistan said...

HAil HITLER

douchbagdave said...

i wish i was a squirrel

:D

Suckk MYY dick bitch! said...

I hope all niggas die.....

Sarah said...

Really good work! I also just finished reading the book. Well, I hate it *lauging*

Anonymous said...

i wish i was the conch so people could blow me ;D

julie said...

Hi! Thankyouuu sooo much for blogging. I really liked how you summarize it and do symbols and everything. You guys are gret writers! I like how your website looks like.
~ A new fan of your blog, haha.

Taylor said...

Thanks so much for this in depth explanation. It really summarizes what is going on and what important symbols to keep in mind :)

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Aubrey said...

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Anonymous said...

It says that Jack still has the glasses at his belt when the Naval Officer came to the boy's rescue

K1999 said...

Really good!! Thanks so much! i needed this for an english project. :)

PUSSYMONEYWEED said...

specs are love. specs are life.