William Golding's "Lord of the Flies," explores the clash between the human predisposition towards savagery and the laws of civilization that are devised to diminish it. An organized, lawful society gives outlets for the primal instincts of people. It satisfies these impulses by channeling them into productive tasks that benefit the greater good without allowing the release of their full expression and possible destructiveness. After their plane crashes on a remote island, the young boys try to organize an ordered democratic society. "We've got to have rules and obey them. After all, we're not savages," says Jack. Ironically he becomes the first to give in to his savage impulses. (Page 42) As opposing personalities and priorities wrestle for power, fear and desperation take over, and they slowly dissolve into anarchy and eventually a dictatorship. This theme of conflict is prevalent in the many symbols Golding uses throughout the novel. Each of his main characters also supports this idea by portraying different facets of human nature and its capabilities. The isolated, seemingly idyllic setting of a remote tropical island also serves to further demonstrate the digression of the boys' world from organized and peaceful into chaos and murder. .
The primary symbol of order and reason in the novel is the conch shell. It represents civilization itself and democratic unity. It is used it to call assemblies and signifies whose turn it is to speak at these meetings. The importance of the conch is clearly demonstrated by how worried the most sensible boys are, mainly Piggy, about the conch after the raid led by Jack. As the story progresses, however, it becomes apparent that the conch is losing its hold on the boys. This is first evidenced when Jack refuses to acknowledge its power to designate to whom the group listens. When the shell is then destroyed, it is the end of civility and rational behavior.