Lord of the Flies by William Golding

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Piggy

Extended Character Analysis

Piggy is established as an outsider and source of ridicule amongst the boys on the island, with his weight, asthma, and spectacles offering up prime targets for jokes. His thin hair, physique, and asthma are used to associate him with the island’s pigs. However, despite the way he is treated by the other boys, Piggy continues to speak up at assemblies and insist on the importance of rules. Additionally, Piggy and Simon are the only two boys who seem to genuinely care for the younger boys, with Piggy attempting to count them and learn their names. 

Piggy initially aspires to hold a leadership position, but after Ralph gives away his embarrassing nickname, he is ridiculed and becomes withdrawn. He begrudgingly votes for Ralph to be chief because he is afraid of Jack. Piggy is later appointed by Ralph to oversee the younger boys while Jack, Ralph, and Simon explore the island. 

Piggy’s intelligence is initially dismissed by most of the boys, but he eventually becomes Ralph’s close friend and advisor. Due to his asthma and physique, he is not able to play with the other boys, so he spends most of his time thinking. Most of the boys’ democratic aspirations, including the initial gathering, are traceable to Piggy, who symbolizes the scientific and intellectual side of society. However, because he lacks the looks and charisma needed to be respected as a leader, he stands behind Ralph and advises him. 

Piggy is intimidated by Jack from the beginning, likely because the savagery that Jack represents is a direct threat to the civility that Piggy represents. Unlike Ralph, who has difficulty believing that Jack truly hates him, Piggy knows the full extent of Jack’s hatred for both him and Ralph from the beginning. However, despite his ability to perceive Jack’s true nature, Piggy is blind to the fact that rules only work within a civilized setting. For Piggy, laws and rules are meant to be followed regardless of circumstance.

Even after his role in the murder of Simon, he attempts to rationalize the act by pinning the blame on Simon for crawling out of the forest unexpectedly. Up until the moment of his death, Piggy is the advocate for civility and reason, never quite able to understand the darkness within the other boys and himself as Simon and Ralph are.  

Essential Passage by Character: Piggy

Piggy wore the remainders of a pair of shorts, his fat body was golden brown, and the glasses still flashed when he looked at anything. He was the only boy on the island whose hair never seemed to grow. The rest were shock-headed, but Piggy's hair lay in wisps over his head as though baldness were his natural state and this imperfect covering would soon go, like the velvet on a young stag's antlers.

"I've been thinking," he said, "about a clock. We could make a sundial. We could put a stick in the sand, and then—"

The effort to express the mathematical processes involved was too great. He made a few passes instead.

"And an airplane, and a TV set," said Ralph sourly, "and a steam engine."

Piggy shook his head.

"You have to have a lot of metal for that," he said, "and we haven't got no metal. But we got a stick."

Ralph turned and smiled involuntarily. Piggy was a bore; his fat, his ass-mar, and his matter-of-fact ideas were dull, but there was always a little pleasure to be got out of pulling his leg, even if one did it by accident.
Lord of the Flies, Chapter 4, pp. 53-54 (Penguin: New York)

Summary

The boys have been on the island for some time now, long enough for their hair to become long and their clothes to become tattered. They have adjusted somewhat to their new life of survival, yet there are many things left undone. Boredom is setting in, preventing them from continuing to build stable shelters and to provide adequately for the basic needs of a healthy society. Rudimentary huts provide some protection from the elements. Fruit and occasional seafood are the staples of their diet. The camp is divided into two main groups: food and fire. Jack and the...

(The entire section is 1,649 words.)