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

Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

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After Simon’s unfortunate death, the hunters led by Jack attack Ralph’s group and manage to steal Piggy’s glasses which they wanted to use for lighting a fire. This prompts Ralph, Samneric and Piggy to visit the hunter’s camp the next day to demand the glasses. But as Ralph and Samneric approach the hunters, Piggy is left standing on the stone bridge with the conch shell in his hands. A verbal confrontation between Ralph and Jack takes place as some hunters take Samneric hostage. In the process, Roger releases a stone that they used to guard the bridge and it falls on Piggy causing him to fall off a cliff landing forty feet downwards. He fell on his back and his head burst open from the impact. His body, like Simon’s, is swept away by the water. The conch shell also got destroyed during this incident.

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The death of Piggy follows a series of plot events. Ralph and Piggy decide to face Jack and force him to listen to reason. They think they will be able to talk some sense into him. Jack and the other boys still have Piggy's glasses, so they decide to confront him and get the glasses back.

Once they are at the other boys camp, Jack attacks Ralph, and they start to fight. Ralph tells Jack to give the glasses back, and they struggle to show who is in control. Piggy gives a shrill yell hoping to get the attention focused on him and off of the fighting. Roger is above on the mountain top and pushes a boulder down the side. Ralph hears it coming and is able to get out of the way. Piggy is struck by the boulder, and the conch shell he is still holding is shattered. Piggy falls off the mountain and to his death on the rocks below. Jack tries to attack Ralph, but he is able to get away.

The death of Piggy has symbolic value. It shows the death of innocence of these boys. They have given in to the wild ways of the island with no authority at all. Ralph is the only one left who has an ounce of who he was left inside of him.

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Roger released a rock from above that flew down from the cliff above and hit Piggy, knocking him down.  He fell forty feet and landed (dead) on his back down by the water.  Then the water washed in and took his body out to sea.

"The rock struck Piggy a glancing blow from chin to knee: the conch exploded into a thousand white fragments and ceased to exist.  Piggy, saying nothing, with no time for even a grunt, traveled through the air sideways from the rock, turning over as he went.  The rock bounded twice and was lost in the forest.  Piggy fell forty feet and landed on his back across the square red rock in the sea.  His head opened and stuff came out and turned red.  Piggy's arms and legs twitched a bit, like a pig's after it had been killed."

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What events led to Piggy's death in Lord of the Flies?

The primary event which led to Piggy's death in the novel Lord of the Flies occurred when Jack stole the larger boy's glasses during the night with the aid of the hunters.  It is the theft of the glasses which spurs Ralph, Piggy, Sam, and Eric to journey to Castle Rock, the location of Piggy's death.  Piggy and the other boys probably would not have risked traveling over there, if not for two reasons:

1) Piggy's vision is extremely poor, and he cannot function on the island without the aid of his glasses. 

2) Ralph's insistence that the boys had to continue making the signal fire so they could be rescued.  The glasses were the only means of making fire on the island, and without them, Ralph feels that the boys will never be rescued; they will be doomed to stay on the island forever.

Once at Castle Rock, Piggy takes the conch in hand and makes a plea for the good of civilization and the return of his glasses:

Which is better—to be a pack of painted Indians like you are, or to be sensible like Ralph is? . . . Which is better—to have rules and agree, or to hunt and kill? (Ch. 11)

He unfortunately sets himself up as an easy target for Roger to destroy with a well-aimed boulder.  Piggy's tragic end comes as a result of the building acceptance of savagery and violence on the island.

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Explain what happens to Piggy in William Golding's novel Lord of the Flies.

Piggy is one of four central characters in William Golding's novel Lord of the Flies. The story is set on a tropical island where a group of English schoolboys has survived a plane crash. Piggy is the second character we meet, and he is unforgettable.

Piggy is fat (hence his nickname), has asthma, wears thick spectacles, has been rather babied by his auntie since his parents died, and is clearly the best thinker and organizer on the island. When Ralph, one of the other characters, meets Piggy, his first reaction is to get away from him (though perhaps that is because Piggy is suffering from diarrhea in the nearby bushes). When the littler boys meet Piggy, they have no particular reaction to him; however, when Jack, the leader of the choirboys, meets Piggy, he instantly dislikes him. 

“You’re talking too much,” said Jack Merridew. “Shut up, Fatty.”

Despite Ralph's unkindnesses to him in the beginning, Piggy allies himself with Ralph because he knows Ralph offers the best protection from Jack and his hunters. Likewise Ralph eventually realizes that, as a leader, he needs Piggy's help to think and plan.

As the novel progresses, Piggy is a necessary part of island life because he has the glasses that can start fire; however, by the end of the novel Jack's disdain for Piggy (who represents intellect and reasoning) intensifies, and soon he steals Piggy's glasses and allows one of his savages to kill Piggy by dropping a boulder on him. 

As a symbol, Piggy is the reasoning part of man, and as the boys grow more savage they do not want to be reminded of reasonableness or thinking. Instincts have taken over and because the boys are no longer using their minds to determine their actions, Piggy has no way to defend himself against their savagery.

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