What is the role of Piggy in chapter one of William Golding's Lord of the Flies?  

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

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Lord of the Flies, by William Golding, is set on a tropical island on which no one but a group of English schoolboys has survived a plane crash. The first two boys Golding introduces on the morning after the crash are Ralph and Piggy. Piggy sees Ralph and immediately wants to connect himself to the fair-haired boy; however, Ralph is not particularly interested in having anything to do with Piggy. That will change later, as Ralph recognizes what we recognize from the beginning: Piggy is the voice of reason and intelligence on the island.

Unfortunately, Piggy is the boy all the other boys, both on the island and off, will pick on because of how he looks. He is fat, he has asthma, and he wears thick glasses. Despite that, Piggy is interested in finding out the answers to questions and gathering everyone together. He is the one who understands that the conch (symbol of order and civility) will be a useful tool on the island, and he teaches Ralph how to blow it.

When the boys begin to gather, Piggy believes it is important to get everyone's names and keep track of them all. When it is time for him to vote for either Ralph or Jack, Piggy abstains. Clearly he understands that neither of them, though for different reasons, will be an effective leader. 

Despite the fact that Ralph does not want to be associated with him and deliberately snubs and hurts him several times, Piggy intuitively knows that his best chance of survival on this island is sticking with Ralph, who has already been less cruel to him than Jack. As Ralph, Jack, and Simon leave to explore the island, Ralph says, "Go back, Piggy, and take names. That’s your job." 

Later, Ralph will come to rely on Piggy's intellect and follow his advice; however, for now neither he nor any of the other boys respect Piggy's ability to think and reason. 

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