Discuss the importance of Piggy (character, role, death) in chapter 8-10 of Lord of The Flies.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Piggy is highly significant to the thematic development in Lord of the Flies.  He embodies the idea of law and order, rational thought, and striving to be honorable in a dishonorable time. Piggy represents the constructive aspect of civilization, a progressive attitude that becomes the minority and eventually is silenced through the forces of power and control.  His marginalization and eventual death reflects how social conformity and the desire to appropriate the world in accordance to one's own subjectivity can eliminate voice.  This is seen throughout the book, but specifically in eight through ten.

"The Beast" is a symbol that is used to generate power and control. Its presence lends credence to Jack's claims to power and that the boys must embrace a defensive and militaristic approach than a more legislatively rational one.  When Ralph becomes convinced of the Beast, it is evident that Piggy is moving towards even greater marginalized status. Piggy's desire for answers, involving a careful and methodical approach to understanding how the reality of the beast is constructed, is what Jack calls "poor leadership."  It is at this moment in chapter 8 where it is clear that Piggy's voice of reason is seen as weakness and threatening to the condition of Jack's hunters. When Piggy loses Ralph, his chief protectorate and ally, it is clear that his time is evaporating quickly.  In an act of desperation, Piggy tries to rally the boys' attention in building a fire to scare off the beast:  “The boys began to babble. Only Piggy could have the intellectual daring to suggest moving the fire from the mountain.”  As the anarchy descends upon the island, where the center of progressive reason cannot hold, Piggy is one of the sole believers in rationality, civilization, and "acting like adults."

The movement of Piggy to the fringes of the social order on the island reflects how he becomes an easy target to others.  Piggy becomes the outsider.  In a world where there is no structure, his belief in one helps to doom him.  When Piggy is burned by one of the boys, his physical hurt causes the boys to laugh at him:  "Piggy once more was the center of social derision so that everyone felt cheerful and normal.” Feebly, Piggy tries to join Ralph and the other boys as a means of inclusion, but it is evident that there is something larger at play, "another desire, thick, urgent, blind.”  At this point, Piggy's characterization shows how the devolution of social order is going to demand victims.  Piggy, who is not athletic, portly, intellectual, and asthmatic is a prime target.  The demonstration of Piggy as an outsider who retains his intrinsic qualities while trying to conform is reflective of this "thick, urgent, and blind" condition which makes his escape impossible.  His conformity led to the mass killing of Simon.  Piggy's participation renders him helpless.  In the critical moment of action, he betrayed his progressive and rational principles, and as a result, his own sense of identity becomes absent.

Through this assimilation, it is clear that Piggy will not last the coming storm.  His use of rationalization in Simon's death is reflective of his personality and temperament, but in the end, there is little he can do to offset that which seems inevitable.  His longing for the past and the lack of affect from the others is a reflection of how little time is left for him:  "I don’t know where she [Piggy's aunt]  is now. And I haven’t got an envelope and a stamp. An’ there isn’t a mailbox. Or a postman.”  The basic semblance of order and logic that had dominated his world and his being are eroding, akin to the structure of the social organization on the island.  The stealing of Piggy's glasses causes a loss of vision both literally and metaphorically.  It is at this point where Piggy's loss and marginalization is reflective of how society targets those on the outside with precision and accuracy in its desire to silence voice.  Piggy embodies this in his interactions with the boys on the island, specifically evident in chapters 8 through 10.

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