Does the descent from civilization to savagery present Piggy as a hero? How would you argue both sides?

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durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Lord of the Flies, Piggy frequently asks "what would grown-ups do?" It is apparent from the reader's first encounter with Piggy that he is unique. He is proud of his differences at first, having been wearing glasses since age three and having been the only boy in his school with asthma. Later, his differences will cause him to feel isolated and will set him apart because he operates on a different level and perceives things differently.

1. Even in chapter 1, Piggy starts planning and wants to find the other boys, make a list of all the boys' names, and call a meeting. He recognizes the immediate need to create order in what is otherwise uncertainty and turmoil. He emulates his aunty to ensure success. Piggy is heroic in that he is different, demands a certain standard from himself, is determined to use his good sense and rational mind for the greater good, and does not allow himself to be complacent.

2. Despite suffering a trauma, Piggy is determined to rise above it and therefore meets another criteria for a hero. Even though he is unpopular because the boys, especially Jack, sense that he may spoil their fun, he perseveres in setting standards and having high expectations.

3. Piggy's abilities allow him to recognize Ralph's potential and to understand his own subordinate but supportive role in ensuring survival and rescue. Therefore, this also contributes to his status as a hero as he proves his own worth to the reader, who knows that without him life on the island would have collapsed a long time before it does. 

4. In discussing Piggy as not a hero, the reader will recall that although his intentions are always good, he fails to recognize that Jack is more than just a threat: he is a force that needs to be dealt with. As Ralph's own personal adviser, Piggy needs to provide Ralph with better solutions. This detracts from any hero status.

5. When Piggy suggests that the boys go to Jack's feast, he does not plan for the inevitable, although he does know that Jack wants to lead the tribe as he openly admitted that they could all join. A hero will always have a plan.

6. Piggy is weak and afraid of Jack and, instead of facing his fears, he finds ways to avoid Jack or uses the conch to provide protection even though he knows Jack has no respect for the conch or for Piggy. A hero faces his fears and comes out victorious.

Piggy's death could have been the ultimate sacrifice of the hero and it is open to interpretation whether this event seals his status or robs him of it. As a hero, Piggy eventually stands up to Jack in chapter 11 and shouts "which is better—to have rules and agree, or to hunt and kill?" He knows that this is confrontational and for him is the last chance to save the boys from themselves. However, his efforts are in vain and without the intervention of the Navy, the boys would not have been able to save themselves. So he is perhaps not a hero, as his efforts were not successful and he may have left it too late to intervene. Would a hero have saved the day?  

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Lord of the Flies

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