Today I participated in an English contest. The fourth subject asked us to translate a text into our language. The text had some expression I didn't know and I wonder what does this one mean:

“The boy came close and peered down at Ralph, screwing up his face as he did so. What he saw of the fair-haired boy with the creamy shell on his knees did not seem to satisfy him.” (Golding, William — The Lord of the Flies)

So, what does "creamy shell" mean here? I know shell means the "house" that a snail has on his back or shells from the beach.

closed as off-topic by FumbleFingers, Edwin Ashworth, NVZ, David, Scott Jan 30 '18 at 5:42

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  • I imagine that's the conch shell, which plays an important role in Lord of the Flies. The outside of which would be rough, but the exposed inner surface could reasonably be described as "creamy" in colour (also smooth and creamy to the touch). – FumbleFingers Jan 28 '18 at 15:06
  • 'Creamy' is just a synonym of fair-skinned. 'Shell' just means his body but was chosen to suggest the other boy was no longer seeing him as human. It is literature and the author uses some words that aren't precisely true, but close enough for readers to guess the real meaning, then the literary word chosen has an added emotional impact on readers. It is beautiful - in a macabre kind of way. – Ross Murray Jan 28 '18 at 15:19
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this is a literal usage explained in the context of the narrative; it is not about the nuts and bolts of English language. – Edwin Ashworth Jan 29 '18 at 0:15

Earlier in the chapter, it is explicitly said that the shell is a cream-colored conch:

Ralph had stopped smiling and was pointing into the lagoon. Something creamy lay among the ferny weeds.

"A stone."

"No. A shell."

Suddenly Piggy was a-bubble with decorous excitement.

"S'right. It's a shell! I seen one like that before. On someone's back wall. A conch he called it. He used to blow it and then his mum would come. It's ever so valuable—"


In color the shell was deep cream, touched here and there with fading pink. Between the point, worn away into a little hole, and the pink lips of the mouth, lay eighteen inches of shell with a slight spiral twist and covered with a delicate, embossed pattern.

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