Why is Ralph more able than Piggy to acknowledge what has happened to Simon?William Golding's Lord of the Flies

Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As hardships and tensions increase in Lord of the Flies, the intuitive Simon is killed, and the boys Piggy and Ralph lose their abilities to think with their increasing fears. However, while Ralph's reaction is to fight and to argue and fight, Piggy is much more cowardly.  With his loss of vision, Piggy begins to rationalize that Simon is not dead, then that it was an accident:

"It was an accident....Coming in the dark--he hadn't no business crawling like that out of the dark.  He was batty.  He asked for it....It was an accident....

"Look, Ralph We got to forget this.  We can't do no good thinking about it, see?

Piggy suggests to Ralph that they were on the outside and did not really see anything. With his loss of his glassses, the symbol of reason, Piggy has lost his true vision of reality, and can no longer cope.  He is also weaker as he has an asthma attack, clinging to Ralph and gasping for breath. Ralph, who wishes desperately that they could go home to escape the reality of what has happened does, however, come closer to admitting to the emergence of the beast within themselves since he does have a conscience. But, he engages in a fight with boys who have hidden in the shelter in order to steal Piggy's glasses, and then becomes involved in a physical struggle for survival after this.

Piggy's rationalizing represents his weakness and reluctance to admit to the breakdown of the vestiges of civilization as the Lord of the Flies has dominion over the island.  Ralph attempts to conquer this dominion in his conscience, but he is not strong enough to fight back.  Having failed to keep the boys organized and orderly, in the end Ralph weeps for "the darkness of man's heart" until, as Simon intuitively has known, he is rescued.  

Read the study guide:
Lord of the Flies

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question