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11. The word irony has several meanings. After you have found its definition in an ordinary dictionary, you will want to look it up again in a dictionary of literary terms, which will tell you more about the use of irony in literature. The definition of irony that most concerns us here is the use of words to convey meaning that is different from (and usually the exact opposite of) what those words mean literally. For example, someone who hates war might say to you, "War is wonderful!"- but in such a tone of voice that you understand exactly what the person really thinks.
There is irony throughout Lord of the Flies. The author uses it in his narrative, the characters are aware of it and use it in their speech, and the events of the story, in relation to one another, are ironic.
At the beginning of the novel, Ralph says that the boys will have a good time on the island until the grownups rescue them. In light of everything that happens on the island (the boys have a horrible time and some of them are even killed), Ralph's words are ironic, even though he does not intend them to be.
Simon is the only one who understands that their fundamental problem is the beast each one carries within himself. Therefore it is ironic that Simon, the intelligent one, cannot speak before the group and is thought "batty" even by Ralph and Piggy. He has no one's respect, and he wants to tell them something that is beyond their understanding.
At the end of the story, the officer thinks the boys "would have been able to put up a better show." The boys once thought so, too; now their experience has made them far more mature than the officer, whose viewpoint is close to that of the boys when they arrived on the island. The officer may also intend another irony in his words, for he speaks of how the boys might have behaved when he knows from what he sees around him that somehow that behavior was not possible.
12. Ralph is elected freely. When he calls the boys together, he tries to be fair by making reasonable rules. He says that each boy will be allowed to speak when he holds the conch and that he can't be interrupted by anyone except himself as their leader. He assigns the important tasks of hunting and keeping the fire going. He does not punish the boys when they fail at their tasks but talks to them about their responsibilities.
Jack uses force and fear to rule, having bullied his way into power. He forces the twins to join his tribe by tormenting them. The boys are not allowed to speak freely. They can only ask Jack's opinion and accept his answers. He expects to be treated like a god; the boys must wait on him and do what he wants. When they disobey, they know they will be punished or killed.
13. The conch is a symbol of communication. Its sounding calls the boys out of the jungle, as primitive men who existed in isolation and fear were called together. The conch is also a symbol of order. The conch gathers the boys in a group so that they can become a civilization. It calls them away from animalistic and instinctual tendencies and toward awareness and choice. At first all the boys respect the rules which Ralph establishes to hold meetings. Later, when Ralph's leadership has failed, the boys no longer value the conch. After the conch has been destroyed, they return to a primitive order without thought or choice. Although Jack does lead a tribe, there is no unity among its members, only fear and force.
14. In literature, blindness and the ability to see have always been important themes. In Piggy's case, his glasses are a sign that he sees or knows more than most of the other boys. He is more concerned with maintaining civilization and order on the island. Unlike Ralph, Piggy "sees" what will happen if they don't remain civilized.
The glasses symbolize his ability, but at the same time they indicate he has impaired vision. He knows or sees more than Ralph, but he doesn't see the total problem. In the symbolic sense, Piggy's vision of the jungle is impaired. He will blame Jack-who is only part of the problem-and fail to understand that the beast resides within each of the boys, including him.