Lord of the Flies: Why Did Piggy Die?

The concepts and designs behind why it was essential that Piggy dies and what brought about this death.

Piggy is a young English school boy who plays a major role in the book Lord of The Flies, by William Golding. He is short, plump and happens to be the only boy on the island with glasses. This also has an effect on the outcome of the story. His death is caused by the hatred of most of the other boys on the strange island and the lust for power. The notorious, mischievous bully, Jack Merridew, was the cause of the separation between the boys. This hatred and lust for power is built up more strongly as the book progresses. Piggy’s death may also be a result of his understanding and representation of the adult world and his common sense, and Piggy’s death is in no circumstances an accident. Lord of The Flies portrays humanity’s problems in a different perspective, disguising a hidden message or story within itself. This leaves the reader to read the novel in a variety of ways, either as a fictional adventure novel or they are left to decipher all the hidden messages within the symbolism. Conformity also plays a major role in the symbolism of the novel, as shown by how the choir boys conform and follow Jack.

Lord of The Flies author, William Golding uses symbolism to portray humanity’s problems in a different and not so clear way, making the reader think about the book more carefully and not just flick or skim through the pages. The use of Piggy’s death in the novel was a necessity. It needed to occur to demonstrate the effects of uncivilized behavior in our modern world.

The boys land on the strange, exotic island when was has broken out and they are in threat of being killed. An atomic bomb has exploded. For their own protection, a group of boys were being flown over an island when their plane was shot down. Releasing the passenger tube, the plane explodes and most of the boys land safely on the island. The story then revolves around the way the boys organize themselves without any adult presence or intervention. Their behavior often reflects the behavior of adults in the real world. Including such behavior as:

  • The battle for power
  • Responsibilities and organization
  • Prejudice
  • The need to worship higher being
  • Conformity to rules for safety

Piggy is a main character in the novel. He is portrayed as a fairly well mannered child using typical English school boy speech. He is incapable of performing the duties and tasks that the other boys perform due to his asthma. This makes him vulnerable as an easy target for ridicule. Jack Merridew, on the other hand, is an outspoken child who takes pride in his role as choir director; however, his pride and greed overtake his mind in the lust for power and competence against Ralph, the elected chief, and Piggy who think of great ideas and is a rationalist.

The main problems which contribute to Piggy’s death commence early in the novel when Ralph is elected as chief. Jack becomes jealous as he thinks he is better than the rest and should be chief. It was the conch (a twisted long sort of shell that makes a deep sound when blown) that led to Ralph’s leadership. The conch helps to make Ralph appear strongest, not necessarily physically but intellectually. The conch is a representation of authority and power. Ralph, Piggy, and Simon represent different aspects of a civilized world the boys have left behind. Jack is a bully who commands through brute force. The others follow blindly.

The hatred towards Ralph and Piggy is built up over the period of time, culminating with Piggy’s death and then continuing until they are rescued by the sailor, who is a representative for the world. This hatred is based upon the lust for power and Piggy’s use of common sense. Jack becomes jealous and envious of the two friends because he did no think of the idea for a fire. He did not see the great need to be rescued, thus Piggy’s death is caused partly by jealousy. Jack gets most of the boys to accept his philosophy “who’ll join my tribe and have fun?” as they reject the moral standards of civilization. This can be compared to city gangs of today who reject the common standards of civil society and act according to their own wills, desires, and passions.

Conformity plays a major role in the novel. In the beginning, Jack’s boys conform to become a choir, Jack being the choir director. When Jack is given the responsibility of finding food, the choir again conforms to follow Jack and they become hunters. This form of conformity becomes a threat to Piggy and Ralph as the hunters are prepared to do anything that Jack asks of them. They become savages and thus through their conformity and not having any individuality, they kill Simon and Piggy.

Jacks lust for power and leadership is the cause of separation between the groups of boys. This symbolizes the establishment between two opposing parties, one representing a good cause and the other evil. In this instance, Ralph, Piggy and Samneric (Sam & Eric-twins) seeing the need to keep the fire alight to be rescued; Jack and the other boys seeking more for fun, adventure and hunting. Thus Jack, using fear, is able to control the boy’s minds through deception, against Piggy. This fear which is created mainly by the thought of “the beast” Jack is capable of establishing a link between the boys natural instincts to act upon their own will and not to act upon a fear of something or someone. This fear is created among themselves and the “beast” is a symbol of themselves and man. Taking into account the things which man has done, especially the new war which has put them in the situation in which they are now. Jack uses this fear to his own advantage. Piggy in a desperate situation is murdered brutally by a falling boulder, unleashed by jack’s boys from the top of a cliff. This demonstrates clearly, the hatred Jack has towards Piggy.

Piggy representing a thinker and not a doer in life’s society, is noticed by Jack to be a threat and thus seeking vengeance to get his own way, Jack set up a night raid on Piggy and Ralph. The aim, to steal Piggy’s glasses. Their goal to steal the glasses is successful and in a vain and foolish attempt to get his glasses back, Ralph and Piggy find themselves in an awkward situation. What starts out to be a pleasant approach soon turns into a tragic death. As Piggy is struck by the falling rock, the conch is smashed into many pieces. This demonstrates that all hope of civilized authority and order being returned to the island has been destroyed, shattered and left to blow in the wind.

Upon reading the novel as both an adventure story and as a perspective on humanity’s actions and problems, we come to the conclusion that Piggy’s death is indeed of great importance and significance to the novel and is the unique symbolic outcome of man’s own faults and difficulties. We can see that the death of Piggy was brought about by many evil problems prevalent in our world today, including pride, conformity, hatred and selfish intent.

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