Discuss the conflicting relationship between authority and duty in Lord of the Flies focusing on Piggy, making a connection to human nature.  

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durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Lord of the Flies is a good example of the battle of the human spirit in proving mankind to be a more intelligent and superior being to other animals. Through time , mankind has both disappointed - Sodom and Gomorrah were wickedness led to the people's destruction - and exhalted- the sun always comes up the next day and new beginnings abound!

Piggy is acutely aware that conformity brings confidence and security. He is quick to recognize the importance of the conch as a symbol of order and he and Ralph are quick to instill a democracy - without even being aware of what they are doing, as whoever holds the conch has the right to speak uninterrupted. "He used to blow it and then his mum would come. It’s ever so valuable.” 

This shows the basic goodness of man as, without persuasion Piggy and Ralph do their best to install a system that is fair and not just authoritarian. They could just as easily have used the conch to exert their own authority - such as Jack  would have done.

Every society has people who work for the good of others and those who are self-absorbed and even wicked. It is noticeable that Jack does not steal the conch when he has an opportunity to but instead steals Piggy's glasses. Jack is all too aware of what the conch represents and he wants no part of that. Basic instincts and survival skills intrigue and excite Jack whereas they scare Piggy. it is significant that Piggy dies and the conch is smashed reinforcing the link between Piggy and duty, responsibility and order.

Piggy longs for the intervention of the grown-ups and wonders what "auntie would say."  It is his maturity that shows him that the boys are mainly still too young and foolish to establish any kind of order that is fair to everyone. Piggy knows that with leadership comes responsibility which is why he tries to guide Ralph in his decision-making; being very aware of his own strengths and his infuriating weaknesses as he cannot command respect from the others. "Mocking him makes the others feel cheerful."    

Even Piggy however lets his guard down as he longs to share in the meat that Jack and his tribe are preparing. He pretends that he is interested  only "to make sure nothing happens."  

Even after Simon's death Piggy tries to convince Ralph that it was an accident and that they are still essentially good. Piggy must rationalize as it would be wrong to do anything else in his world where order and routine win the day in ensuring that mankind retains its position as superior to the savages!

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Lord of the Flies

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