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

Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

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Is Piggy a protagonist or antagonist in Lord of the Flies?

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Just as it is a pity that Piggy's attempts at being a leader are largely unsuccessful firstly, because of his appearance - he is overweight and wears glasses, secondly, he suffers from asthma and thirdly, he had been made fun of from the outset when the boys heard his nickname. Especially Jack's derision towards him encouraged the other boys and they mocked him. No one could respect him after that and even his most sincere attempts were seen as snivelling gripes only. As a leader, Piggy would have used a common-sense approach. He is clearly practical in his thinking.

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In order to answer this question, let's first examine what those literary terms mean.

A protagonist is usually a main character of a literary work who faces a significant source of conflict. The antagonist works against this main character and is often thought of as the "villain," though in more complex plots, this isn't always the case.

If we apply these definitions to Lord of the Flies, we can recognize Ralph as the protagonist. He is a main character, and readers become invested in his struggle to maintain much-needed order on the island. His primary opposition is Jack, who represents savagery and generally stands in the way of all Ralph attempts to accomplish.

Piggy doesn't fall neatly into either of these definitions, and it's important to recognize that not every character in a story is either a protagonist or an antagonist. Some characters further the plot and therefore have a valuable place in the story but stand outside the central conflict. Since Piggy aligns himself with Ralph and the desire to maintain some semblance of civilization on the island, he can't be an antagonist based on our definition. He would more closely resemble a protagonist because of his symbolic representation of wisdom and intellectualism, though he is not as central to the conflict as Ralph is. Piggy is a source of support for Ralph as they stand together in opposition against Jack's barbaric and chaotic actions.

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What type of leader is Piggy in Lord Of The Flies?

It is a pity that Piggy's attempts at being a leader are largely unsuccessful firstly, because of his appearance - he is overweight and wears glasses, secondly, he suffers from asthma and thirdly, he had been made fun of from the outset when the boys heard his nickname. Especially Jack's derision towards him encouraged the other boys and they mocked him. No one could respect him after that and even his most sincere attempts were seen as snivelling gripes only.

As a leader, Piggy would have used a common-sense approach. He is clearly practical in his thinking. He is, for example, the one who, at the start, recognizes the practicality of the conch and suggests that Ralph use it to summon whoever else might be on the island. He also insists that it be respected and puts forward rules to that effect, as such, it becomes a symbol of order and discipline.

Since Piggy is orientated towards rules and discipline, he would have formed a more functional society than the one Ralph and Jack did. He most probably would have established a system of rewards and penalties for those who did and did not adhere to the rules.

Furthermore, Piggy would have created clear tasks for groups amongst the boys, as Ralph tried to do when he and Jack decided on who would be hunters and who not. In such a system, the boys would have had more purpose and their society would have had greater functionality. 

Piggy's style of leadership would have been outcomes-orientated for he focuses on what has to be done throughout the novel. He is the one who Ralph and Jack leave behind when they go off to establish whether they were on an island. It is also clear that Ralph recognises his intuitively caring nature when he also later suggests that he should be the one looking after the littluns when they go looking for the beast, although he also states that it would be best for practical reasons since Piggy is not healthy enough to accompany them. Piggy's leadership would probably have ensured a 'safety first' approach, especially with regard to the littluns

Piggy's 'old school' approach in which authority is respected, would have achieved a more disciplined society and there would have been greater order and control.

In the end, it is tragically ironic that both Piggy and the conch simultaneously cease to exist. His death and the destruction of the conch introduce a state of anarchy in which the boys become true savages and their innate brutality is given free rein. 

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Who is Piggy in Lord of the Flies?

In William Golding's Lord of the Flies, Piggy is one of the party of boys stranded on the island. He stands out from the other boys in a number of ways, being overweight and short-sighted, as well as thoughtful and rational.

Piggy is probably the most intelligent of the boys and certainly the one most inclined to use his intelligence to solve the problems that face them. However, he is also ill-adapted for survival, and his death, the most savage and intentional of the killings that occur on the island, comes to seem inevitable as the boys' makeshift society descends into chaos.

Piggy has faith in law and order, and it is his symbolic status as the guardian of civilized values that means he must die, as the boys abandon the values he represents. Before this, his spectacles, a symbol of his enquiring, scientific intellect, are broken. Piggy is despised by the other boys, including Ralph, for his physical shortcomings, and it is only after his death that Ralph really appreciates what a staunch and valuable friend he has lost.

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Who is Piggy in Lord of the Flies?

In William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, Piggy is the voice of reason. While his peers are playing games, or descending into savagery, Piggy uses his brain.

When they first arrive, Piggy is convinced that an atom bomb has destroyed everything and no one is left to rescue them. While this assertion gives the impression that Piggy will be a character who jumps to absurd conclusions, he ends up being the character who sees truth.

Unfortunately, although he often has good ideas and understands their dire situation, Piggy is ignored and mocked by the other boys, which upsets him greatly. They all give suggestions, and Piggy’s thoughts make sense, yet the others do not care. While they are intent on enjoying their time on the island, Piggy tries to be logical. For instance, he knows they should build shelters to protect themselves. The boys are fixated on building a fire, but that will not protect them as they await rescue. He accuses the others of acting “Like a pack of kids!” and asks them

“How can you expect to be rescued if you don’t put first things first and act proper?”

Although he is twelve years old, Piggy sometimes distances himself from the others of his age group and sees them as acting foolishly. In addition, Piggy notes that they have not been keeping track of the littluns; he is not even sure how many there are to watch. He complains that there was no way for him to get a list of their names by himself. While the others are having fun, Piggy is expected to do the work.

There is compassion in Piggy: he knows what it feels like to be teased or ignored. He supports the young boy who is too panicked and shy to speak when the big boys mock him. He has something important to tell them about the “beastie, the snake-thing” on the island. While the others laugh, Piggy shouts for the boy to be heard.

“Let him have the conch!”

Then Piggy interprets for the boy so his story can be heard. At times, Piggy is the only one who actually listens to others.

Piggy shows an understanding of human nature. It is he who realizes that there is no beast on the island—at least nothing in physical, tangible form. He understands that the true beast comes from within; it is the savage, barbaric behavior that humans are capable of exhibiting. Early on, Piggy recognizes this behavior in Jack, for example. He pleads with Ralph not to let Jack take over.

“I’m scared of him…I know about people. I know about me. And him. He can’t hurt you but if you stand out of the way he’d hurt the next thing. And that’s me.”

Piggy fears the beast’s violence taking over and driving out reason, emotion, and humanity.

Yet, for all his wisdom, Piggy is still a scared boy who cannot deal when order begins to unravel. For instance, after Simon is murdered, Piggy rationalizes because he cannot admit to himself what has happened and any part he might have played in it.

“It was an accident…We was on the outside. We never done nothing, we never seen nothing.”

It’s much easier to blame the victim for surprising them, and to declare that they really had no part in killing Simon.

In the end, even though Piggy stands for law and order, he too is murdered by the savage beast within Roger; what he most fears ends up destroying him.

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 Who is Piggy in Lord of the Flies?

An overweight boy who wears spectacles, Piggy is a figure of fun for most of the other boys. They tease him mercilessly, treating him with utter contempt and disrespect.

Whatever his shortcomings, Piggy is a highly intelligent boy. Unlike most of the boys on the island, his faculty of reason is well-developed, to the extent that he buys into Ralph's rational plan to establish a rules-based order on the island.

Whatever the others may think, they need Piggy and his large brain; they need him if they're to set up a workable society instead of descending into complete chaos and savagery. Unfortunately, that's exactly what happens when Jack takes over the island with his ruthless band of thugs. Tragically, but unsurprisingly, Piggy becomes a victim of their savagery, killed after being hit by a boulder deliberately released by Roger, a particularly psychopathic member of Jack's gang.

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