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

Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

Start Free Trial

Discussion Topic

Piggy's dialogue and characterization in Lord of the Flies

Summary:

Piggy's dialogue and characterization in Lord of the Flies highlight his intelligence and rationality. His frequent appeals to logic and order contrast with the other boys' descent into savagery. Piggy represents the voice of reason and civilization, often using formal language and advocating for rules and structure, which ultimately underscores his role as an outsider and his tragic vulnerability.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What does Piggy say about the incident in chapter 10 of Lord of the Flies?

Simon's tragic death is heavy on Ralph's and Piggy's minds in Chapter 10 of Lord of the Flies. Ralph considers it an act of murder, and he blames himself for being drawn into the circle of death. However, Piggy reminds Ralph that they were only on the fringe of the circle (though Ralph is battered and bruised), and he refuses to place the same blame on himself and Ralph as on Jack's hunters. Piggy claims that he could not see well with his broken glasses, and he calls Simon's death "an accident." Piggy says that Simon was "batty," and that he and Ralph need to forget about.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What are some quotes about Piggy in chapter 11 of Lord of the Flies?

Piggy's character, Piggy's glasses, and Piggy's death are all focal points in chapter 11 of Lord of the Flies. At the beginning of the chapter, Golding writes,

Piggy sat expressionless behind the luminous wall of his myopia.

The loss of his spectacles is a serious handicap for Piggy. Without them, he can barely see well enough to walk, so he sits still and helpless. Later, however, he is determined to resolve the matter, as he says to Ralph,

I’m going to him with this conch in my hands. I’m going to hold it out. Look, I’m goin’ to say, you’re stronger than I am and you haven’t got asthma. You can see, I’m goin’ to say, and with both eyes. But I don’t ask for my glasses back, not as a favor. I don’t ask you to be a sport, I’ll say, not because you’re strong, but because what’s right’s right. Give me my glasses, I’m going to say—you got to!

These words show Piggy's faith in justice as an abstract concept which cannot be denied. He has had enough experience of Jack's character to realize that he is unlikely to be moved by appeals to his better nature. However, despite the evidence, he still believes that even Jack will be forced to acknowledge the justice of his claim.

When the boys go to meet Jack, Piggy symbolically carries the conch, as he is now identified with the authority it confers.

They said little but trailed the butts of their wooden spears; for Piggy had found that, by looking down and shielding his tired sight from the sun, he could just see these moving along the sand. He walked between the trailing butts, therefore, the conch held carefully between his two hands.

When Piggy is killed, the conch shatters at the same time. Piggy was never a leader in the way that Ralph and Jack were. He influenced the group through thoughtfulness and good sense rather than charisma or violence. The conch was a symbol of authority based on these values. It had power because everyone agreed that it did and because some system was needed to keep anarchy at bay. Once Piggy is dead and the conch ceases to exist, the boys' descent into savagery is complete.

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 has been killed.

The quotations about Piggy here depict him as the standard-bearer of reason and civilization—values which are ultimately defeated by barbarism as he becomes ever more helpless to defend himself .

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What are some quotes about Piggy in chapter 11 of Lord of the Flies?

In the beginning of this chapter, Piggy tries desperately to hold on to a sense of order that has crumbled around them:

"That's them," said Piggy. "They blinded me. See? That’s Jack Merridew. You call an assembly, Ralph, we got to decide what to do."

Even Ralph questions the need to call a formal assembly at this point. There is no one left to round up; everyone besides the two of them and the twins has shifted alliances to follow Jack's savage leadership. Yet Piggy still believes in the value of rules and order and thinks that structure can still save them.

As they prepare to retrieve Piggy's glasses, Ralph hands the conch to Piggy, who flushes with pride:

Piggy sought in his mind for words to convey his passionate willingness to carry the conch against all odds.

The conch symbolizes democratic order and a sense of civilization. The person who holds it is given authority and leadership. Though Piggy has tried to exert his leadership at various points in the novel, his voice has been largely extinguished and ridiculed. At this moment, he finally feels recognized and valued, trusted to carry their most precious symbol of order.

When they reach Jack's tribe, a sense of danger looms in the air. Piggy questions,

"Am I safe?" quavered Piggy. "I feel awful—"

Piggy isn't safe. His question represents a foreboding truth—anyone who opposes Jack isn't safe on an island under Jack's leadership. Although Piggy lacks his glasses, he is able to understand the truth in front of him. Entering Jack's territory is not a safe choice.

When Piggy is finally recognized and given the platform to speak to Jack's group, he poses a question that juxtaposes the two leaders on their island:

"Which is better—to be a pack of painted Indians like you are, or to be sensible like Ralph is?"

Savagery or sensibility? That is Piggy's question to the boys, and he undoubtedly believes that the group will see the folly in aligning with lawlessness through this contrast.

Shockingly, the boys celebrate their savagery by responding with shouts, growing increasingly more intense. Soon thereafter, Roger sends a huge rock crashing down on Piggy, extinguishing his voice permanently and symbolizing the end of the voice of intellect and rational thought.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What are some quotes about Piggy in chapter 11 of Lord of the Flies?

"Piggy sought in his mind for words to convey his passionate willingness to carry the conch against all odds." (Golding 172) Ralph extends the conch to Piggy and invites him to carry it to Castle Rock. Piggy's willingness to carry the conch describes his drive to maintain a civil society in the dire situation. The boys decided to go to Castle Rock to confront Jack and retrieve Piggy's glasses. Piggy tells Ralph that he must carry the conch when they approach Castle Rock, but is honored to carry it on the way there. Piggy understands the importance of letting Ralph hold the conch in front of Jack's tribe. The conch is a symbol of civility and power, and since Ralph was the elected leader, he must display his authority by holding the conch.

"Piggy held up the conch and booing sagged a little, then came up to strength again." (Golding 179) Piggy is attempting to remind the boys of their civil upbringing and gain their attention by holding up the conch. This occurrence represents the remnants of civility remaining in the savage children. When they first see the conch, they begin to boo less because they recognize its authority. When the boys start to boo louder, they dismiss the power of the conch, effectively symbolizing their dismissal of a civil society.

"The rock struck Piggy a glancing blow from chin to knee; the conch exploded into a thousand white fragments and ceased to exist." (Golding 181) This quote describes Piggy's death. Roger rolls a massive bolder down the hill, striking and killing Piggy instantly. The bolder also smashes the conch, which symbolizes the complete destruction of civility on the island.

"Piggy's arm and legs twitched a bit, like a pig's after it has been killed." (Golding 181) This quote describes the way Piggy's body moves after he is dead. Golding's description connects Piggy to the hunted pigs who are victims of the boys' barbarism.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Last Updated on