Lord of the Flies Questions and Answers
by William Golding

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Piggy's Glasses in "Lord of the Flies" -- what do they symbolize? What do you think Piggy's glasses symbolize in the novel?

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Bruce Bergman eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The glasses are often associated with ideas of civilization or society.

Piggy certainly relies on this product of the scientific, civilized world to get by and this reliance is resonant with this attitude, which prefers the adult, civilized world to the chaotic and animalistic world of children. The glasses represent a physical symbol of this attitude and reliance. 

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bullgatortail eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The glasses symbolize about the only example of modern technology to be found on the island. They help to make Piggy the most intelligent boy of the group--when he is wearing them. When Piggy is without them, his confidence is reduced and his usefullness is shattered. The glasses are important to all of the boys as a means to start a fire, but they also serve as a destructive force in an otherwise peaceful natural environment.

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I believe that Piggy's glasses symbolize science.  They also symbolize rational thought, which goes along with science.

One of the themes of this work is that human nature ends up taking over and makes human beings violent and selfish.  Piggy's glasses show us that this evil side of human nature even ends up overcoming rationality and science.  This makes sense when we think about it in the real world.  Science is supposed to help us have better lives and yet it ends up being used in ways that hurt us (with nuclear weapons being the clearest example of this).  

Piggy's glasses are used in just this way.  They are stolen and used to make fires that are uncontrolled and harmful.  The ability to steal them helps show that Jack is the leader of the evil faction in the book:

He was a chief now in truth; and made stabbing motions with his spear. From his left hand dangled Piggy’s broken glasses.

Thus, the glasses are a symbol for science and rationality, showing how those are overtaken by the more evil aspects of our nature.

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litteacher8 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Glasses are a remnant of the old, modernized society.  They are also a useful tool, not just for Piggy to see but for the boys to start the fire.  The glasses have more than one significance.  On a global level, they symbolize technology.  They can also symbolize man’s ascent into civilization because they allow the boys to take the first step into civilization by starting a fire.

“His specs–use them as burning glasses!” (ch 2)

The glasses make Piggy useful.  Although he has good ideas, the boys generally ignore him because he is fat.  However the glasses make him actually useful to the rest society, because now they can start fires.  However, Piggy is dependent on his glasses and cannot see without them, so once they have them he is helpless.


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