Two separate illustrations of an animal head and a fire on a mountain

Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

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What does Piggy mean when he says that life is scientific?

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In chapter 5, Ralph attempts to settle the issue regarding the beast by discussing it during an assembly. After Ralph and Jack mention that a beast does not exist on the island, Piggy attempts to pragmatically solve the issue by viewing it through a scientific lens. Piggy is the most intelligent, rational boy on the island and says,

" scientific, that's what it is. In a year or two when the war's over they'll be traveling to Mars and back. I know there isn't no beast—not with claws and all that, I mean—but I know there isn't no fear, either" (Golding, 64).

Piggy's comment about life being "scientific" illustrates his viewpoint of the world and belief that a large, carnivorous animal cannot inhabit such a small tropical island. Piggy understands that many of the boys have irrational fears, which is why they have developed the concept that an enigmatic beast is roaming the island. However, Piggy does believe that the only thing the boys should fear is each other. Piggy's comment about being frightened of people is the closest idea to Simon's supreme knowledge of the true identity of the beast, which is the inherent wicked nature of each boy on the island.

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In Lord of the Flies, Piggy represents reason and order and science. So in chapter five, when he says that life is scientific, he is trying to help the boys see reason when they talk about the beast. Ralph has called a meeting to try and get things back in order and the opposite has happened. The boys are talking about the beast and Jack has seen their fear and seen that he's also able to take advantage of that fear to further undermine Ralph's control.

But Piggy is trying to explain, in a scientific way, that there can't be a "beastie." As he points out, there isn't a way for an animal that big to live on the island because there's nothing big enough for it to eat there. As at the beginning of the story when he explains the fact that no one will know where they are because they went off course, etc., his explanations are exactly correct but do not always achieve the intended effect.

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