Opposing Forces in “Lord of the Flies”
In Lord of the Flies by William Golding, Golding creates two drastically opposing forces that fight for dominance over the boys that are trapped on the island. One (the conch) represents civilization, democracy, reasoning, and logic while the other (the beast) represents the instinctive behavior of all animals for dominance, violence, and inpulsive actions manifested in mankind. Initially the idea of creating and living in an orderly society with set rules and jobs seemed like the most logical and agreeable idea for all the boys but over time the dominance of the beast seemed to only increase and in the end overtake the civil ways of the conch.
The eighteen inches of shell with a slight spiral twist (page 16), better known as the conch, is discovered by Piggy and represents order and a civilized society throughout the island. Being that these children are now trapped on an island with just animals and fruit trees, there’s a clear need for one leader and a means of structure throughout the island that the children can follow. The first blow of the conch draws attention to the boys lost in the forest and brings them into one group. As a result of this first unofficial meeting where they elect Ralph as a leader and they establish a hunting group, Piggy and Ralph are shown to be representatives of the conch. They take up the role of spreading and enforcing the idea of the conch. They set…rules! …Lots of rules (page 33) and expectations are established in hopes that the boys will follow suit and that it’ll lead to a quick rescue with minimal complications. They treat the conch as a means of maintaining balance, and create various guidlines such as when one is holding the conch… he won’t be interrupted.’ (page 33) and making each person raise thier hand before speaking. Ralph and Piggy come up with various tactics to try to create a foundation for the society on the island that they now inhibit. In order for the boys to be able to be discovered, Ralph comes up with the idea to make a fire so that We can help them to find us. (page 38) and in hopes of being able to rely on a steady stream of smoke for rescue. Through the conch, rules, regulations, and hope for rescue are established by Ralph and Piggy in attempts to prevent chaos from erupting.
On the other side of the spectrum, the idea and influence of the beast gradually builds up as the book progresses. The litteluns were used now to stomachaches and a sort of chronic diarrhoa and suffered untold terrors in the dark (page 59). The longer the children stay on the island the greater their decline and deterioration of both mental and physical become. By writing how Ralph’s hair was creeping into his eyes again, Golding shows the gradual fight that Ralph experiences internally between submitting to the barbaric ways of Jack or staying true to the conch.