What are key examples of bullying against Piggy in Lord of the Flies? Who bullies Piggy and why?

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bullgatortail's profile pic

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Just about everyone bullies Piggy, including Ralph who is Piggy's closest friend. Ralph betrays Piggy's confidence early in the story when he reveals the nickname that he hates so much.

     A storm of laughter arose and even the tiniest child joined in.  (Chapter One)

Nearly all of the boys ridicule Piggy because of his weight, bad eyesight, "ass-mar," and high level of intelligence. He is not allowed to go on the early exploring "expedition" with Ralph, Simon and Jack. Although the boys are supposed to allow the possessor of the conch shell to speak, Piggy's right is often denied.

     "I got the conch."
     Jack turned fiercely.
     "You shut up."
     Piggy wilted.  (Chapter Two)

Piggy's glasses are often "borrowed" to start the fire; later, one lens is broken before Jack steals them outright, beating Piggy and leaving him almost blind. In the end, Piggy faces "sniggering," "jeering" and "booing" from the others before Roger unleashes the boulder that knocks Piggy off the cliff and onto the rocks below.

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kellykflanigan's profile pic

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Piggy serves as the symbol of rationality and logic in Lord of the Flies, and it is partially because of his role as this symbol that the bullying against him seems especially pronounced. Though it is obvious to most readers in our current time, when bullying education and prohibition is a cornerstone of many school systems, this was not necessarily the case in the 1950s, when Lord of the Flies was published. It's important to note when reading that, in the 1950s, not only might the treatment of Piggy have been normal and accepted by adults had they been on the island, it's likely that the adults in Piggy's life had treated him the same way Jack and the other boys that "bullied" him do. 

Piggy is immediately set apart from the others through physical description. Until they exchange names, Ralph is described as the "fair boy" and Piggy as the "fat boy." Piggy asks Ralph his name, but Ralph does not reciprocate the inquiry. Within just a few sentences, readers learn that Piggy is afflicted with asthma and also wears glasses. These characteristics of his serve to lay a foundation of the potential for bullying--but Piggy is also quite likable. He's agreeable, and he's incredibly optimistic. 

The incidents of bullying happen most when Jack Merridew is around, starting from the moment all of the boys come together.

Piggy asked no names. He was intimidated by this uniformed superiority and the offhand authority in Merridew’s voice. He shrank to the other side of Ralph and busied himself with his glasses.

Piggy's intelligence and ability to read other people protects him from an immediate attack from Jack; he knows to stay out of Jack's way. 

Later, though, that is impossible. Piggy begins to gather names, but Jack doesn't want to be called "Jack"; he wants to be called "Merridew."

“Kids’ names,” said Merridew. “Why should I be Jack? I’m Merridew.” Ralph turned to him quickly. This was the voice of one who knew his own mind.
“Then,” went on Piggy, “that boy—I forget—”
“You’re talking too much,” said Jack Merridew. “Shut up, Fatty.”

Jack's attacks on Piggy continue, and turn from verbal to physical when Jack physically takes Piggy's glasses off his face against Piggy's will. 

Jack pointed suddenly. “His specs–use them as burning glasses!” Piggy was surrounded before he could back away. “Here–let me go!” His voice rose to a shriek of terror as Jack snatched the glasses off his face.

He physically attacks Piggy again after the boys let the fire go out. This attack is more violent than the first. 

This from Piggy, and the wails of agreement from some of the hunters, drove Jack to violence. The bolting look came into his blue eyes. He took a step, and able at last to hit someone, stuck his fist into Piggy’s stomach. Piggy sat down with a grunt. Jack stood over him. His voice was vicious with humiliation.
“You would, would you? Fatty!”
Ralph made a step forward and Jack smacked Piggy’s head. Piggy’s glasses flew off and tinkled on the rocks.

The book then balances for several chapters, as Piggy survives the way many bullying victims do--by blending in and by being helpful when it won't draw a tremendous amount of attention.

Piggy could almost consider himself accepted, even after Jack and the other hunters steal his glasses (for the theft was not an act of bullying; the hunters would have stolen the glasses from anyone who had them), until Roger's assault on Piggy, which is a final act of bullying that proves fatal. Whether Roger knew that pushing the boulder would actually kill Piggy or just scare him is unknown; either way, it was an attack on him that happened out of a desire to control and intimidate. 

When considering what examples of bullying exist in the novel, it's important to consider the context of bullying from the 1950s as compared to and contrasted with the 2010s. Though there are a number of differences, some examples are clear, time-tested tactics of bullies and, for that reason, serve as evidence that Piggy was bullied by at least Jack, and by other boys as well. 

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durbanville's profile pic

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In Lord of The Flies, Piggy is an outsider. He is "the only boy...whose hair never seemed to grow." This in itself may not be significant but the fact that certain characteristics set Piggy, "the fat boy," apart physically reinforces the intellectual differences between Piggy and the other boys. Piggy can't even swim but it is he who recognizes the importance and usefulness of the conch which will come to represent order and civilization.

Ralph uses Piggy's name carelessly, causing all the boys, "even the tiniest," to laugh which sets up Piggy to be the brunt of jokes and bullying. Later Ralph will reflect on the pleasure he gets from "pulling his leg" (Piggy's). Piggy, however, does not always recognize it as bullying; he mistakes it for friendliness, leaving him even more vulnerable to bullying.

Jack directs much of his animosity towards Piggy, punching him in the stomach and mocking his voice. Jack's tribe, the hunters, are encouraged by Jack's teasing which makes them laugh and this encourages Jack until the boys' laughing becomes irrational and hysterical. Even after lighting the fire with Piggy's glasses and cooking Jack's "kill," Jack uses his mockery of Piggy to assert himself to the point that the twins (Samneric) laugh and even Simon can only look away shamefacedly. 

Jack also has no respect for Piggy's right to speak and his tribe thinks that anything Piggy says is comical; they wonder "what amusing think he might have to say." Having stolen Piggy's glasses for the last time and knowing that this renders Piggy powerless just makes Jack hate Piggy more. This symbolizes a turning point in the book as Piggy, the voice of reason who has been Ralph's main source of inspiration, becomes for Jack less important than the smashed shell. Jack is more concerned with the fact that he can claim to be chief and doesn't show any concern that "Piggy was gone."  

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