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

Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

Start Free Trial

What does Piggy symbolize in Lord of the Flies?

Expert Answers

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

Piggy is the much-hated, overweight boy on the island who represents exactly what the boys are turning away from: rational thinking. It is Piggy who determines that they need to count the number of boys on the island. It is Piggy who decides to use the conch to assemble the boys. It is Piggy who wants to learn everyone's name. It is Piggy who tells the group that the beast can't be real. And it is Piggy who notes that the signal fire should be moved to increase their chances of survival.

Piggy's ideas aren't valued because of his weight and physical challenges; the other boys find him pathetic and ridiculous, never to be taken seriously. Because Jack successfully leads the group of boys increasingly toward utter savagery, the boys display a growing sense of irritation and even anger toward rational thinking. Instead, they react emotionally and in a mob mentality.

In Chapter 8, notice how the pigs Jack hunts are described:

The pigs lay, bloated bags of fat, sensuously enjoying the shadows under the trees. There was no wind and they were unsuspicious; and practice had made Jack silent as the shadows.

Compare this to the final scene when Piggy is alive in Chapter 11:

Someone was throwing stones: Roger was dropping them, his one hand still on the lever. Below him, Ralph was a shock of hair and Piggy a bag of fat.

(Bold added for emphasis.)

It is in this scene that Piggy tries to tell Jack's group that living like savages is irrational. He tries to convince them to act more maturely and to follow the rules in order to be rescued.

Rescue isn't what this group wants, and Piggy's sense of rational thinking is not needed. Therefore, the group moves from killing the pigs to killing Piggy and all that he represents.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Piggy acts as a very interesting symbol in Lord of the Flies. Previous answers to this question have stated that the boy represents logic, the rational world/civilization and that his glasses in particular represent the boys trapped on the island not being able to look ahead and see the consequences of their actions. 

Let's take things a step further in the area of Piggy's glasses. Unlike the other boys, Piggy CAN see (figuratively speaking), and his glasses allow him to do so. Piggy himself represents logic and scientific thinking, and his glasses both literally and figuratively represent advancement in science and technology. They are quite literally a tool, an advancement, used to help Piggy be able to see with his eyes. When they are used to create fire, they become a representation of the human capability to invent and innovate. While still somewhat naive to the chaotic ways of the island, Piggy has insight into cause and effect, and he has a desire to keep a sense of order— his glasses are a literary device used to emphasize this. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Piggy is the overweight, intelligent boy with asthma throughout the novel Lord of the Flies, whose character symbolizes the rational world and civilization. Unlike the other boys on the island, Piggy is physically vulnerable and relies on the laws and regulations of civilization to protect himself, which is why he remains close to Ralph. However, Piggy is by far the most intelligent boy on the island and pragmatically attempts to solve issues using his intellect. He views life as scientific and offers several solutions to pressing issues on the island. Unlike the other boys, Piggy understands the importance of a signal fire, obeying the conch, and building shelters. Piggy is also the strongest proponent of civility on the island and cannot comprehend Jack's savage nature. Essentially, Piggy symbolizes the rational world and civilization because of his intelligence, affinity for the conch, enmity towards Jack, and pragmatic disposition. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Lord of the Flies is an allegorical novel and, as such, the characters represent important ideas or themes. Piggy signifies logic and has a scientific intellect. Piggy is sensible and rational and he tries to think how 'grown-ups' and, in particular, his 'auntie' would behave in difficult situations.

He represents reason and loyalty.

What is also highly symbolic is the fact that Piggy cannot see well - hence his glasses. Piggy is used throughout the novel to show the apparent shortsightedness of the boys (and therefore society in general) when they do not consider the consequences of their actions. Whilst Piggy has the ability to be

calm and thoughtful about situations presented, the others are playing dangerous games that culminate in(to) murder and evil.

Piggy's scientific thinking reflects the development of science and its importance far beyond the scope of the novel.

Refer to the eNotes study guide and navigate to the character analyses and other useful information to a gain a better understanding of what the characters represent in Lord of the Flies. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What does the sow's head symbolize in Lord of the Flies?

As auntlori points out, the sow's head is representative of evil and is often compared to Satan. 

Interestingly, Beelzebub is sometimes used as a synonym for Satan; literally translated, Beelzebub means "lord of the flies."  Obviously, Golding had this in mind when he named his novel. 

Many critics compare Simon's encounter with the sow's head, or lord of the flies, to the Biblical Temptation of Jesus (Matthew 4:1), in which Jesus is led into the desert and is tempted by Satan.  According to the Bible, Jesus sacrifices himself to save all of humanity.  Likewise, in Lord of the Flies, Simon dies trying to tell the others that there is no beast--and what they thought was the beast is really a dead parachutist.  With his new knowledge that the beast lives within all of the boys, and therefore isn't something that they can hunt and kill on the island, Simon descends down the hill and, ironically, is mistaken for the beast.  He is killed before he is able to give the boys information that could possibly save them. 

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

What does the sow's head symbolize in Lord of the Flies?

The sow's head in Lord of the Flies is both a literal and figurative element in this novel.  Literally, it is the head of a dead sow which Jack has his hunters prop up on a stick as a kind of sacrifice to the "beast" on the island.  Jack is reasonably sure there is no particular beast to appease, but his hunters are not so sure.  He directs them to leave this sacrifice in order to help them feel more at ease on the island, as if this gesture could protect them from evil.  It is literally just a gory head from a sow which has been placed on a stick.

The placement of the head is fortuitously close to Simon's secret "hideaway."  When he goes there after the head has has time to draw a fog of flies (though its very existence is unknown to him), Simon has one of his fainting spells and the head appears to talk to him in a vision.  Figuratively, the sow's head becomes the Lord of the Flies, taunting and threatening Simon about revealing the truth--that they are the beast.  Simon understands this, and the pig head tells him no one will listen to him and warns him not to tell the others what he knows or he will die. 

This is exactly what happens shortly after, of course, so the Lord of the Flies acts as a foreshadowing of things to come, as well.  Golding himself intended this awful figure to be indicative of Satan and the worst of our sin nature.  It's an effective image, I think, if that was his intention. 

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

What does the pig's head represent in Lord of the Flies?

The pig's head symbolizes both the savagery that the boys now exhibit outwardly, and the "Lord of the Flies" because the rotting head is swarming with flies, as it sits perched on a stick.

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

In Lord of the Flies, what is the connection between the pig's head and the beast?

The first discussion of a "beast" in Lord of the Flies is from chapter 5. This beast represents the children's fear--fear that comes from nightmares, from being separated from their homes and parents, and from the unknown. The "beast from air" in chapter 6 is a physical object, namely the corpse of a paratrooper and his parachute. This beast represents the downward spiral of society that exists not just on the island but to a greater extent in the outside world, which is in a state of nuclear war. This beast foreshadows the third beast, the Lord of the Flies, that Simon meets in chapter 8. The "pig's head on a stick" that Golding names "the Lord of the Flies" is the culmination of the other two beasts. As early as chapter 5, Simon had postulated about the beast, "maybe it's only us," which brought scorn from the other boys. In chapter 6, Simon says he doesn't believe in the beast. But in chapter 8, he meets the beast in the form of the pig's head and learns what it really is: "I'm part of you? Close, close, close! I'm the reason why it's no go? Why things are what they are?" Here we get the answer to the mystery of the beasts. The moral darkness within the human heart is what causes both fear and the destruction of society through hatred and violence. The pig's head ties both the beast from the sea and the beast from the air together, showing that they both stem from man's inner depravity.

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