How can a critical essay be written on one of the following questions with the essay based upon Lord of the Flies: - What influence do others have upon who we become? - How important is it to...

How can a critical essay be written on one of the following questions with the essay based upon Lord of the Flies:

- What influence do others have upon who we become?

- How important is it to pursue our passions?

- What drives our need to belong?

- What does it mean to "live well"?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In selecting the question to which the student wishes to write, considerations must be made regarding how comfortable that student feels about dealing with a particular one. That is, can the student make a strong argument based upon themes, characterization, etc. in Lord of the Flies? Since this is the task of the student and not one that Enotes assumes, suggestions will merely be made here about approaching this assignment.

In selecting the first question, for instance, the student may wish to examine the character of Piggy. For, the other boys do, indeed, have an affect upon Piggy's self-perception as well as the role he assumes in the community of those who are stranded together on the island. Here, then, are some points to consider,

  • Piggy's physical appearance and conditions [asthma, myopia] invite ridicule and dislike, causing Piggy to be intimidated by others and less forceful and confident since he is often ignored by the others as “Mocking him makes the others feel cheerful.”He easily, then, acquiesces to the golden boy, Ralph, as leader, because he perceives Ralph's physical superiority and his charisma, two qualities that he lacks. In Chapter Eight, for example, Piggy becomes angry with Ralph, but he "gave up the attempt to rebuke Ralph."
  • His maturity in thought and his skillful use of reason afford Piggy pride and confidence as Ralph respects him and listens to him. In addition, Simon recognizes Piggy's intelligence and loyalty, reinforcing these qualities in Piggy when he nods his head in agreement.
  • Piggy becomes fearful of Jack after he expresses his anger that Jack let the fire go out in Chapter Four. For, when he threatens Jack, "Just you wait--" Jack parodies him with "Jus' you wait--yah!" and the other hunters laugh  This action of Jack's mitigates Piggy's authority. Later, when Simon has been killed, Piggy is too afraid to admit that he has been a witness to this beating; consequently, he denies it.

"Didn't you see, Piggy?" [Ralph asks him]
"Not all that well. I only got one eye now. You ought to know that, Ralph.....Look, Ralph. We got to forget this.  We can't do no good thinking aout it see?....We was on the outside. We never done nothing, we never seen nothing."

  • This growing weakness of Piggy, both inwardly and physically as he has his glasses stolen and is virtually blind, incites the sadistic Roger, who lifts a pink granite boulder, sending it on a collison course for Piggy.

With Piggy's character in mind, a critical essay on the first question may take as its thesis that the perception of others often becomes the reality of a person's character as reactions from others can bolster or mitigate one's self-esteem, and this perception can also determine one's position in society. The development of this essay can be furthered by providing factual information from life that parallels the supporting details of characterization of Piggy in the novel.

Essentially a critical essay is persuasive; so, please see the links below that may afford the student additional pointers.

Read the study guide:
Lord of the Flies

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