How is Piggy's character presented in Lord of the Flies?

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andrewnightingale eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Piggy is the bullying-victim archetype. His physical appearance and his somewhat know-it-all attitude make him a victim of the others boys' mockery and derision. Even Ralph initially has a go at him when he repeatedly calls out his hated nickname, 'Piggy.' We never learn his real name. It is evident that the author has done this deliberately to emphasize the fact that he is generally treated with disrespect and to perhaps indicate that even those who are deemed unimportant are, or could be, just as important as everyone else.

Piggy is overweight, wears glasses, suffers from asthma, is physically weak and clumsy, and has thin hair which does not seem to grow.

Despite his shortcomings, though, Piggy is clearly intellectually superior to the other boys. He is the voice of reason and is the one who initially takes charge by assuming responsibility when he takes down the boys' names. Piggy is a throwback, as it were, to the adult world of responsibility, control, and decency. He nags others for not taking their duties seriously. He constantly reminds all the others to maintain control. It is also he who insists on everyone recognising the conch as an instrument of civilized behaviour and the maintenance of order. He is emphatic about the fact that the one who has the conch should be allowed to speak.

It is tragic, though, that Piggy, for all his wisdom and rationality, is not given due respect. He is instead treated with derision and pushed to the fringes of their microcosmic society, even by Ralph. His insistence on establishing and following rules causes the others to see him as a nag. He is not acknowledged as a leader, even though he shows compassion and understanding, especially toward the little ones and, on the whole, their plight as a stranded and vulnerable group.

Ironically, even though he is marginalised, Piggy is the one who provides solutions to their problems, although he is not given a choice in some matters, such as when his glasses are used to start the signal fire. Ultimately, it is quite apt that when Piggy is killed, the conch is also shattered. Both were symbols of civilized order. When the two cease to exist, savagery rules and gives Jack and his hunters free rein to exercise their bloodthirstiness and malice.

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Lord of the Flies

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