Explain what happens to Piggy in William Golding's novel Lord of the Flies.

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Piggy is one of four central characters in William Golding's novel Lord of the Flies. The story is set on a tropical island where a group of English schoolboys has survived a plane crash. Piggy is the second character we meet, and he is unforgettable.

Piggy is fat (hence his nickname), has asthma, wears thick spectacles, has been rather babied by his auntie since his parents died, and is clearly the best thinker and organizer on the island. When Ralph, one of the other characters, meets Piggy, his first reaction is to get away from him (though perhaps that is because Piggy is suffering from diarrhea in the nearby bushes). When the littler boys meet Piggy, they have no particular reaction to him; however, when Jack, the leader of the choirboys, meets Piggy, he instantly dislikes him. 

“You’re talking too much,” said Jack Merridew. “Shut up, Fatty.”

Despite Ralph's unkindnesses to him in the beginning, Piggy allies himself with Ralph because he knows Ralph offers the best protection from Jack and his hunters. Likewise Ralph eventually realizes that, as a leader, he needs Piggy's help to think and plan.

As the novel progresses, Piggy is a necessary part of island life because he has the glasses that can start fire; however, by the end of the novel Jack's disdain for Piggy (who represents intellect and reasoning) intensifies, and soon he steals Piggy's glasses and allows one of his savages to kill Piggy by dropping a boulder on him. 

As a symbol, Piggy is the reasoning part of man, and as the boys grow more savage they do not want to be reminded of reasonableness or thinking. Instincts have taken over and because the boys are no longer using their minds to determine their actions, Piggy has no way to defend himself against their savagery.

 

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