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

Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

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The circumstances, responsibility, and significance of Piggy's death in Lord of the Flies

Summary:

In Lord of the Flies, Piggy's death occurs when Roger deliberately drops a boulder on him, symbolizing the complete breakdown of civilization and order among the boys. Piggy's murder signifies the triumph of savagery and the loss of rationality and intellect on the island. Roger's responsibility highlights his descent into barbarism and the group's moral collapse.

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Who is responsible for Piggy's death in Lord of the Flies?

In chapter eleven, Ralph and Piggy approach Castle Rock in an attempt to retrieve Piggy's glasses back from Jack. As tensions rise between Ralph and Jack, Roger ends up rolling a massive boulder towards Piggy, which strikes and kills him. Piggy's lifeless body lands on a ledge below the cliff, and the conch shatters into a thousand pieces.

Roger should be convicted of first-degree murder for killing Piggy. The murder was both willful and premeditated as he purposefully dislodged the massive boulder down the cliff in Piggy's direction. In addition to convicting Roger of first-degree murder, Jack should also be convicted of the same charge. Jack is the leader of the tribe of savages and instructed the boys to protect the fortress by rolling boulders towards anyone attempting to trespass without permission. He essentially gave Roger permission to kill Piggy and enabled him to do so. Therefore, Roger and Jack should be convicted of murder for killing Piggy.

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Was Piggy partly responsible for his death in Lord of the Flies?

This is a good question. William Golding's Lord of the Flies is set on a tropical island and the characters are all English schoolboys. Piggy is the most intellectual boy in the group, and because he is committed to using logic and reasoning, he becomes a direct adversary to Jack. Jack has no use for anything but hunting and following his own rather cruel and savage instincts. 

This animosity is evident from the very beginning. Piggy is just trying to be sure he has gotten everyone's names, but Jack rudely interrupts him:

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

In the end, after being tormented, taunted, and ridiculed throughout the entire novel, Piggy has had enough. When Jack steals his glasses, leaving Piggy virtually blind, Piggy makes Ralph take him to confront Jack. Simon has already been killed, and Piggy has to know that Jack is capable of ensuring that Piggy is murdered, as well. But he no longer cares. 

Piggy is determined to control his own destiny, and if he is going to die he wants to die with the conch in his hands, asking the right questions:

“I got this to say. You’re acting like a crowd of kids.” The booing rose and died again as Piggy lifted the white, magic shell.

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

A great clamor rose among the savages. Piggy shouted again.

“Which is better—to have rules and agree, or to hunt and kill?”

Perhaps he hoped he might get through to Jack and his savages, but of course we know the answer comes in the form of a boulder which smashes both Piggy and the conch.

Piggy has always known that Jack would kill him if he could, so to that extent, perhaps Piggy is at least partially responsible for his own death. I prefer to think that Piggy is responsible for choosing the time and place of his own death, knowing he could make one last stand and hoping it would be enough to sway the others. Jack and Roger are literally responsible for dropping the boulder which killed Piggy, but Piggy is probably responsible for being where he knew they could kill him. Piggy knew he was going to die and wanted his life to count for something. 

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In Lord of the Flies, how is Jack involved in Piggy's death?

Jack does not kill Piggy himself—that is Roger's fault, if we are to go by who deserves the direct blame. However, Jack is the one who creates the atmosphere in which Piggy is killed in the first place.

Jack and Piggy are both symbols of particular mindsets. Jack endorses aggressive authoritarianism. He believes might makes right; he uses fear to control the other boys on the island. Piggy is his opposite, believing there should be staunch social rules so that no one descends into barbarism. He advocates reason and skepticism, particularly regarding the alleged "beast" that keeps getting mentioned by the other boys.

When Piggy is killed, as a result of Jack taking over the miniature civilization on the island, this is suggesting the way civilization can be easily overtaken by the irrational, violent side of human nature. So, even though Jack himself does not push the boulder onto Piggy, he sets up the conditions for Piggy's murder and is therefore partly responsible for Piggy's fate.

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In Lord of the Flies, how is Jack involved in Piggy's death?

Jack is indirectly involved with Piggy's death.  I would like to make it clear that Jack does not kill Piggy.  Roger kills Piggy in chapter eleven when he pushes a huge boulder down, and it smashes and kills Piggy.  

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. Then the sea breathed again in a long, slow sigh, the water boiled white and pink over the rock; and when it went, sucking back again, the body of Piggy was gone.

Jack is indirectly involved with Piggy's death, because it is Jack who causes the boys on the island to start believing in a might makes right mentality.  Ralph attempts to lead through a sort of democracy, while Jack favors a dictatorship.  Strength and violence are what Jack's camp supports, which is why Roger is able to get away with the constant tormenting of the little kids and the general sadism that he exhibits throughout the story.  Without Jack, I believe that Roger's personality would have been held in check by Ralph and the rest of the boys.   

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Why does Piggy die in Lord of the Flies and what does his death signify?

Piggy is the voice of reason, intellect, and civilization in the novel. He dies because he is never able to put himself into the shoes of Jack's followers and understand the allure for them of the giving into primal, savage, and irrational desires. He represents reason, but a reason that is too one-sided.

This emerges from the beginning, when he is unable to take on a leadership position as Ralph can. Piggy is very capable and has good ideas, but he can't relate well to the other boys, especially those of his same age, who ridicule him.

Piggy has asthma and is overweight, and for these reasons, he has not participated in sports or learned the joy of physicality. This has contributed to his lack of development of certain kinds of social skills, but more importantly, leaves a gap in his knowledge of life. Jack relies on appealing to the physical side of the boys rather than the intellectual—dancing, hunting, killing—and this is something Piggy simply doesn't understand. Because of his limitations, he has never experienced physical prowess as pleasurable.

Piggy also universalizes civilization. He, for example, takes the conch with him when he and Ralph and Samneric go to talk to Jack about the fire. He doesn't realize that the conch is not necessarily going to be respected in this new society. He doesn't realizes that civilized norms are built on social consensus and are not laws of nature.

When the boulder comes tumbling down from above, Ralph realizes what is going on and gets out of the way, but Piggy doesn't seem to fully grasp what is happening, because it falls outside of his comprehension. He is, in a sense, crushed by his inability to understand why anyone would behave in an evil and irrational way.

The fragility of civilization is symbolized in how easily Piggy is killed and the conch destroyed.

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Why does Piggy die in Lord of the Flies and what does his death signify?

Piggy dies in chapter 11. He is killed after Roger shoves a boulder down the mountainside. Ralph manages to evade the rolling stone, but Piggy is not so lucky. The rock slams into Piggy and knocks him off of the mountain, where he is slammed against the rocks below. The conch is also broken in this tragic sequence.

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.

That is how he dies. Answering why he dies is a bit more subjective. Some readers say that he dies because he failed to evade the boulder like Ralph. Others say that he died because Roger launched the rock. Other readers say that he died as a consequence of the Ralph and Roger conflict. He is nothing more than collateral damage. Regardless of the exact reason why, Piggy's death is symbolically significant because he is the character that most strongly represents reason, learning, logic, rule, order, civilization, and so on. Ralph does represent some of these things, but he also has moments of savagery that bubble to the surface. Piggy is consistently calm, rational, and reasoned. His death signifies to readers that all hope of a peaceful negotiation is over.

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Why does Piggy die in Lord of the Flies and what does his death signify?

Piggy's character symbolically represents intelligence, knowledge, and reason. Piggy is diametrically opposed to Jack and his savage ideology. Unlike Jack, who is a proponent of anarchy, savagery, and bloodlust, Piggy values civilization, rational thought, and democracy. In chapter 11, the boys travel to Castle Rock in an attempt to retrieve Piggy's glasses back from Jack and his followers. Piggy attempts to reason with Jack and his savages by asking,

"Which is better—to have rules and agree, or to hunt and kill? . . . Which is better, law and rescue, or hunting and breaking things up?" (Golding, 259)

Tragically, Jack and his hunters have completely descended into savagery and violently react to Piggy's questions. Roger proceeds to roll a massive boulder towards Piggy, which crushes him to death. Piggy's death symbolically represents the end of reason and rational thought on the island. Once Piggy dies, it is the point of no return and any hope of establishing a civil society is lost. One could argue that Piggy's death is a direct result of mankind's inherent evil, which flourishes in an environment without rules and regulations.

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Why does Piggy die in Lord of the Flies and what does his death signify?

Piggy represents the intelligent, civilized mind. When he is killed, he is trying to intellectually reason with the boys. He has to be killed, because he's making too much sense. Piggy is the one with the special knowledge, for instance how to blow the conch and summon the other boys. Once Piggy dies, all reason dies with him. His death symbolizes the end of reason. When people function without reason, they move to the level of id and destroy one another. In a symbolic way, Golding is saying that when the people of a society stop thinking and just react, the end of that society is at hand.

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Why does Piggy die in Lord of the Flies and what does his death signify?

Piggy dies near the end of the novel, when he, Ralph, and Samneric travel to Castle Rock to demand that Jack return Piggy's glasses to him, which he recently stole. Piggy is physically helpless without his glasses and is barely able to walk without guidance, but mentally he is resolute; he wants Jack to return the glasses because "it's the right thing to do".

The fact that Piggy is killed, and that the conch is destroyed with him, represent the end of intellectualism and the rule of law. It is important that both are destroyed at once, partly because Piggy invested more meaning in the conch than anyone else, which represented how dependent he was upon the traditional rules that the boys inherited from civilization, knowing that in a "might makes right" society he would be trampled. Piggy and the conch give each other meaning, and the destruction of one without the other would not send as climactic and transformative a message as destroying them together.

Piggy's death also has immediate significance to the plot and power dynamics taking place in the story; it demonstrates that Ralph is unable to protect the few people who are under his authority, and that siding with Ralph leads to death. 

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Can you explain the circumstances of Piggy's death in Lord of the Flies?

Piggy dies in the course of an altercation with Jack and his followers. In short, he is struck by a rock, falls off a cliff and dies. But this question is probably not asking for a description of Piggy's death, but rather an explanation—what brought him to that fateful confrontation, and what does his death represent? Piggy's death in many ways is the climax of the book. It represents the final break between Jack and Ralph, as the former completely renounces the legitimacy of rules and order. Golding makes this point quite clear in his description of the incident, as the boulder that kills Piggy smashes the conch shell as well. The conch, used to convene meetings, had symbolized authority among the boys. It also shows that many of the boys have given up on returning to society—the confrontation occurs as Piggy is trying to recover his glasses, which can be used to make a signal fire, from Jack. So Piggy's death is best explained as the moment in the book where reason, common sense, and respect for rules are abandoned by most of the boys.

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Can you explain the circumstances of Piggy's death in Lord of the Flies?

Ralph and Piggy have a meeting,they're furious that Jack stole Piggy's glasses which they needed to attract help through fire so Piggy wants them back and they decide to set out for Jack's camp with the conch where they have an argument with Jack about the glasses because Piggy calls Jack's followers childish savages and makes them angry - one, Roger, dislodges a huge boulder which hits Piggy and he falls off the cliff and dies.

I have included a link to Piggy's character for you below - in case you wanted to research his personality and death/murder in more than one hundred and ten words. Precis is a great skill to learn but you need to learn which elelments are relevant enough to keep in and which to leave out. For example I have omitted that Samneric were at Ralph's meeting to save characters!

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