One of Golding's main techniques for presenting his dramatic conflict involves the use of symbols. Lord of the Flies is a highly symbolic novel, and many of its symbols are readily interpreted. The symbols representing the main themes and how they evolve through out the novel are: the conch shell, Piggyâ€™s glasses, the fire/signal fire, and the lord of the flies/beast. â€œ The whole book is symbolic in nature.â€ (p.204) William Golding tries to prove his point by making each of the symbols represent something that is actively changing on the island. Symbols are objects, characters, figures, or colors used to represent abstract ideas or concepts.
The conch shell is the first important discovery Piggy and Ralph make on the island, and they use it to summon the boys together after they are separated by the crash. As a result, the conch shell becomes a powerful symbol of civilization and order. â€œIâ€™ll give him the conch to the next person to speak. He can hold it when he is speaking.â€(p.33) It is used to govern the boys' meetings: the boy who holds the shell is given the right to speak, making the shell more than a symbol; it is an actual vessel of political legitimacy and democratic power. As the island civilization erodes and savagery begins to dominate the boys, the conch shell loses its power and influence among them. Ralph clutches it desperately when he talks about his role in murdering Simon. Later, he is taunted and pelted with stones when he attempts to blow it in Jack's camp at Castle Rock. When Roger kills Piggy with the boulder, the conch shell is crushed, signifying the complete demise of the civilized instinct among almost all the boys on the island.
Piggy is the most intelligent, rational boy in the group, and his glasses represent the power of science and intellectual endeavor in society. This is most clearly demonstrated when Piggy's glasses are used to make fire by intensifying sunlight with their lenses.