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Piggy and Ralph find the conch shell just after the crash on the island and Ralph blows into it to alert other survivors. It quickly becomes a symbol for order on the island; during meetings, the boys are only allowed to speak if they are holding the conch. Piggy passionately believes in the power of the conch and when interrupted, states ‘I got the conch…I got a right to speak’. Ralph also had an ‘affectionate reverence’ for the conch.
Jack begins to question the authority of the conch and to reject the notion of each boy having their say during meetings. Admonished by Ralph for interrupting, he shouts: ‘we don’t need the conch any more. We know who ought to say things’. After the boys divide into two factions, Jack sneers at Ralph’s insistence that the conch still determines who is allowed to speak.
Piggy carries the conch with pride as he, Ralph, Sam and Eric go to confront Jack’s tribe about his stolen glasses. Ralph is unsuccessful in his attempt to reason with Jack, so Piggy seizes the ‘white, magic shell’ to shout: ‘which is better – to have rules and agree or to hunt and kill?’ Roger releases the giant rock, which kills Piggy and destroys the conch. The destruction of both Piggy and the conch represents the final loss of order on the island.