What part of human nature does Piggy represent in Lord of the Flies, by William Golding? 

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Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

By the end of chapter one in Lord of the Flies, by William Golding, we already know a lot about Piggy. From the first time we see him, Piggy is an asker-of-questions and an information-gatherer, a clear indication of what he represents in the novel. 

Piggy is not particularly appealing physically, especially to a group of young schoolboys who feel perfectly free to tease and taunt anyone whi is different from them. Piggy is fat, wears thick glasses, and wheezes because of his asthma. His parents have died so he lives with his "auntie" who spoils him, and he is not in the least fit. There is nothing about Piggy which represents physical strength or appearance.

Instead, Piggy wants to know things. He wants to know what happened to the plane, if there are any adults on the island, what Ralph's name is (though Ralph cares nothing about knowing Piggy's name), and all the other boys' names as they arrive at the meeting. When Ralph discovers the conch shell, it is simply a pretty plaything for him; Piggy is the one who knows how to use it and recognizes its value for the boys on this island. He is also the owner of the glasses, which the boys use to make fire. 

This connection between Piggy and the conch continues throughout the novel; the conch is symbolic of order and structure just as Piggy is symbolic of intellect and reason. Piggy is smart enough to realize that Jack, especially, wants Piggy gone. He identifies the savagery in chapter five when he asks: “What are we? Humans? Or animals? Or savages?” Ralph eventually realizes he needs Piggy's help to fight Jack, but it is too late. When Jack's tribe (Roger) kills Piggy, there is nothing left on the island but savages and Ralph, and Ralph is forced to flee for his life until rescue arrives.

In this novel, Piggy clearly represents the intellect, the thinking part of man. He is no good physically, he is not concerned about the soul (which is why he tries to rationalize away Simon's murder), and he is not the embodiment of unrestrained (and therefore evil) human nature. All that is left is thinking, something Piggy is good at but which eventually gets him killed. 

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Lord of the Flies

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