How can this piece of writing be improved? In this essay, I will explore how Piggy is represented in the novel and whether he could be interpreted as its hero. Firstly, however, we must establish...

How can this piece of writing be improved?

In this essay, I will explore how Piggy is represented in the novel and whether he could be interpreted as its hero. Firstly, however, we must establish the meaning of this trite term: “hero” is a “man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.

The most conspicuous method used to represent Piggy is through his interactions with Ralph, which were most fascinatingly exemplified by how they spoke and sat. In the first chapter, Piggy is already complementing Ralph, saying that ‘You can’t half swim’, which indicates Piggy’s abundant admiration of Ralph from the onset; nevertheless, by his use of understatements, he is equally exhibiting his proficiency with words, boasting to his twelve year old companion, which declares an infantile need of recognition. However, when, in reply, Ralph only says ‘Piggy’, this recognition is denied to him, which suggests that Ralph is too preoccupied to pay attention to Piggy, ergo his response is automatic. Alternatively, this could further be considered as Ralph trying to get rid of a pestering Piggy, so using his nickname to offend him. Regardless, in this exchange Golding leaves no doubt that Ralph, because of his off-handedness, is more mature – and even superior – than the susceptible Piggy: this conforms to the idea of a physically impressive leader idealised during WWII, likening the island to a war-ridden Europe, thereby suggesting that conflict is near. By these morphing interactions, the narrative matures, in that (in accordance with Freud’s tripartite theory), Ralph, the ego has already progressed, which Piggy the superego only later starts to develop a personality. By so doing, Golding adds both allegory and a scholarly facet to the tale.

Unexpectedly, by chapter eight, this balance of maturity has been subtly but surly reversed, as when “Piggy sat down carefully on the sand and began to polish his glasses”. By using such a concise complex sentence, it adds determined flavour to Piggy’s persona where redundancy is acceptable, and the elegance of the sentence alludes to a novel sophistication, proclaiming his growth. The act of polishing his glasses coupled with the choice of “carefully” ( which has connotation of attention to detail and being critical) reinforced this impression of adulthood by emphasizing his pedantic disposition, although “carefully” could indicate that he was exhausted as it possesses connotations of lethargy as well. Moreover, when “Ralph flopped down on the sand” a few lines later, the two friends are ingeniously juxtaposed, and the stark contrast offered by Ralph (who “flopped”, showing fatigue himself as well as childishness, as it suggests the incapability of sitting down properly” only illustrates how Piggy – the superego – has transmuted, which purports this little child-novel line, according to Feud, is compete, effectively adumbrating the story’s end. Additionally, by proposing that they are both tired, he refuses to accept Ralph’s superiority simply because of his musculature, as they are both displayed as physically weak. When in chapter eleven Ralph starts cursing Jack calling him “a beast and a swine and bloody, bloody thief’. While Piggy was trying to reason with then this inversion is fulfilled. By Ralph’s repetitive use of connectives and metaphoric hyperbole when calling him a “swine”, we can catch sight of him deteriorating under pressure. What does this tell us about Piggy, who didn’t? Incontrovertibly, his ability to remain composed, like a functioning superego is a “noble quality”, and standing up to savages is a “brave deed”, therefore in this case he fulfils the criteria of being a hero.

This interpretation of Piggy’s growth to fulfil the hero is furthered through the symbolic competition of the glasses (perception and intellect, linked naturally to Piggy) and the conch (law and order and more strongly associated with Ralph) by comparing Piggy and Ralph’s heroism demonstrated when “Ralph lifted the cream and pink shell to his knees and a sudden breeze scattered light over the platform”. Here the pathetic fallacy shows the shells power to bring happiness and presents the idea that it can also positively influence nature, as symbolised by the ‘light’; meanwhile how Ralph lifted the shell indicates how precious it is considered to be, thereby revealing Golding’s feeling of disgust of the alternative chaos and evil, while implying they are the natural states, as it took the lifting of the conch to scatter the light. Conversely, another interpretation is possible, as a “breeze” and “light” have extremely delicate connotations in all senses of the word, including fragility, therefore implying the conch’s power is based on random choice. In contrast to this reference, the glasses are brutalised from the alpha when “Jack snatched the glasses from his face”, thus demonstrating how intellect is depreciated, and likewise Piggy, is in society. On top of that, “snatched” reveals the spitefulness of the act (and thus Jack’s hatred of Piggy), suggesting he insults both the glasses and their owner. Being an outsider can be interpreted as heroic, on Piggy’s part as he has the courage to defy the status quo. The focus here, nonetheless s the idealistic power of the conch, which Golding created to compensate for the lack of justice which he experienced during WWII, therefore Ralph’s more significant and more heroic than Piggy, as he and the shell combat nature’s inherited evil.

Similarly to the previous point, everything was capsized in the latter part of the novel whereas society plunged, Piggy rose. The possibility of “breeze” and “light” indicating fundamental fragility was endorsed when Jack, in chapter nine asserted that “the conch doesn’t count at this end of the island – all at one thunder struck”. The use of thunder can be interpreted as a use of pathetic fallacy to reveal the war of wills between Ralph and Jack and the turmoil created over the island. Beside this, however, the thunder can be envisaged as the very nature that inspired the previous “breeze” now turned against the shell, confirming how unpredictable its power was. “The fragile white conch still gleamed by the polished seat” adds another layer to this, suggesting (by it being described in relation to the seat) and (like the law) its power was not physical, but rather a speculation that had to be sustained by others. Furthermore, because of the use of periphrasis, it proposes that its power was simply speculative and the word “gleamed” implies that although beautiful, it was dependant on others (light) and didn’t contribute productively. Therefore Ralph is portrayed as weakening, as his authority is challenged and the conch’s power is annihilated, probably reflecting Golding’s experience of justice during conflict. Despite this, the glasses remained a constant necessity to light the fire, and were stolen by Jack, despite having slighted them previously, for this when he formed his tribe, asserting how they are vital to people in power: this is Golding arguing for the then-novel philosophy of logical positivism (even though they can be underestimated), and by extension delineates Piggy, as this philosophy’s epitome as the most heroic character, the only one who can resolve this natural dilemma of evil.

Though subtly, pathetic fallacy adds dramatic weight and a villainous aspect to Piggy’s representation established by the previous two methods, equating him to a tragic hero. After Piggy concluded his speech in chapter two, the “breezes that on the lagoon has chased their tails like kittens were finding their way across the platform and intro the forest”, revealing his childish frankness and immaturity (hence kittens) at the start of the novel especially as “breezes” are enjoyable, just like a child. Heroism is obviously absent here, as pathetic fallacy depicts how he is still developing. Alternatively, the subsequent clause can suggest that Piggy is in the process of growing up, as the kittens “are finding their way”. Notwithstanding, because the sentence is no abstract, it creates a juxtaposition with Piggy, making him appear confused and still trying to understand his place. By using such abstraction and creating so much agreeableness (by using words such as lagoon and chased), it solidifies this sense of harmony by giving the impression that it is an Eden (but also implies that sin, an ample in Genesis and savagery here, is in the natural state hence inevitable) which create a biblical parallel.

As the novel progresses, the pathetic fallacy evolves following Piggy’s growth and partial descent into savagery, culminating in chapter nine, just before Simon’s demise, when “revolving masses piled up the static until the air was ready to explode”. Unsurprisingly, this technique also underwent a complete change, the circumlocution giving way to a scientific, concise description exemplifying how Piggy’s character is becoming more definite and powerful as his propensity affects the narrator himself, infusing his language with terms like static. However, the racket created between “revolving” and “masses” endorsed by “explode” with violent connotations foreshadows the approaching catastrophe and piggy place in it – by giving an obscure sense to the island, indicating that Piggy is still flawed. However by the way he overcomes this temporary savagery, it validates the superego’s power to change itself and our perception (as it did with the narrator, turning his observations from abstract to scientific). Indeed, Piggy, although having temporarily submitted to savageness, proves barbarity can be overcome and learns to wield his newfound influence, among other “noble qualities”.

In conclusion, Piggy (although unusual in this role) can be considered the novel’s hero. What is apparent is that in the first half of the tale, all the techniques used by Golding condemns Piggy, due to his submissiveness, aspect and childishness. However as the plot progresses he is confronted by turmoil, (represented through pathetic fallacy), grows in importance (as reflected in symbolism), and although still derided by the others, gains Ralph’s respect by maturing into the intellectual centre of the tale and attaining “noble qualities”. Furthermore, he becomes the cogent fulcrum around which the more ever changing justice depends and remains composed to defend it, thereby accomplishing “brave deeds”.

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Lorraine Caplan | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Let's focus on your introduction for this discussion, since it is the paragraph that must draw the reader in, provide any background or context necessary to understand the content, and state a thesis and let the reader know what your supporting points are going to be.  In other words, an introduction must set the stage. 

In your very first sentence, you are jumping in to the subject at hand, without leading your reader gently and gradually to what you want to write about.  Imagine walking up to a stranger on the street and saying this.  Would the stranger be receptive to your opening? He or she is more likely to give you funny looks and walk away. You have not introduced your ideas gradually. The reader is a stranger, too. He or she should not be assumed to know you have an assignment or what that assignment is. The reader should be drawn in with some more general statements before you narrow down to your particular subject. We call this the funnel approach, beginning with a broad idea and narrowing down to the bottom of the funnel. For example, if I were writing an essay about The Great Gatsby, rather than beginning with a statement about the narrator, Nick, if I wanted to analyze his character, I might begin with a sentence like this:

So much writing explores the American Dream, creating a multifaceted and complex construct. When all is said and done, this dream is clearly in the eyes of the beholder, which means that the first person narrator of a literary text creates a unique version of the construct. 

You can see that I have not yet mentioned the text I am going to analyze, much less any particular character. I am simply drawing my reader in with some general ideas, setting the stage for more specific information to follow. Try using the funnel method to get started with your introduction. Draw your stranger in. 

Background and context must be part of the introduction as well. The reader needs to know what novel you are discussing and who the author is. A very brief overview of plot, characters, and setting should be provided, usually no more than a sentence or two. For the reader who has not read the book, this is vital, and even for the reader who has, this is helpful. What might you say about the book that will help the reader navigate through your content more easily?

Finally, you do not have a thesis statement for your essay. There are a few problems. You begin with what we call an "announcement," meaning you tell the reader what you are going to do in the essay, rather than making an assertion. Rather than saying "This essay will consider..." or "I will address the issue of...," you need to make an assertion.  You are not taking a position at all in your statement, merely stating the topic, not your position. Is Piggy a hero or is he not? You must come down on one side or the other in a literary analysis. The whole point of the writing is to make an assertion and then support it. There may be pros and cons, which you are free to address, but you need a thesis, which is a supportable position. The support for your position must be laid out for the reader as well, a series of points you will be making in the content. A thesis statement, which should be the very last sentence in your introduction, should state your thesis, your position, and the supporting points. For example, I might have a thesis statement like this for an essay about The Great Gatsby:

The novel shows the great gap between the American Dream and its failure, through its settings, its symbols, and its characters.

This gives the reader a kind of table of contents to the rest of the essay. The reader now knows I am going to discuss setting first, then symbols, and finally, the characters. Work on a thesis statement for the end of your introduction that avoids announcing anything, that makes an assertion, and that provides the reader with the supporting points, to give the reader a kind of outline to go by. 

Once you have accomplished all that an introduction is meant to accomplish, it is time to go back through the content, which you will be looking at with a different perspective, considering how much of the plot you need to discuss if you have already provided some overview in the introduction, or considering the order in which you want to make the points you wish to make, for example. But setting the stage properly is the first task, once you have a working draft.   


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