Piggy - Lord of the Flies

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s) : 84
  • Published : May 13, 2013
Open Document
Text Preview
Piggy
Chapter 1
In contrast to the violent Jack and charismatic Ralph, Piggy is immediately established as the intellectual of the group. Although he is physically inept, clumsy, and asthmatic, he has a rational mind and the best grasp of their situation. It is his knowledge of the conch shell that allows Ralph to summon the rest of the boys together and he who shows the most concern for some sort of established order in meetings and in day-to-day life. He has a particular interest in names, immediately asking Ralph for his and wishing that Ralph would reciprocate the question, as well as insisting that a list of names be taken when the boys assemble. This emphasis on naming is one of the first indications of the imposition of an ordered society on the island (it also recalls the naming of the animals in Genesis). For Piggy, names not only facilitate organization and communication but also mark one's position within a social hierarchy. It is significant that Piggy is forced by the others to keep his despised nickname from home, which re-inscribes his inferior social status from the Home Counties in the new dynamic of the island. We may also note that Piggy's name symbolically connects him to the pigs on the island, which in subsequent chapters become the targets of many of the boys' unrestrained violent impulses. As the boys turn their rage against the pigs, Golding foreshadows Piggy's own murder at the close of the novel. The reinforcement of Piggy's nickname, which clearly humiliates him, also indicates that the boys have imported to the island the cruelty of human social life. Ralph's mockery of Piggy is the first instance of inequality on the island, and it foreshadows the gross inequities and injustices to come. We may also note here Piggy's background (as an orphan who lives with an aunt) and his poor diction ("can't catch me breath," "what's yer name?")-details that indicate that, unlike Ralph and Jack, Piggy is a child from a working-class background. His immediate ostracizing on the island suggests another way in which the social hierarchies of the boys' home lives are reproduced in island life. Golding suggests that Piggy's marginalization is due not only to his unfortunate appearance and poor health but also because he is of a lower class status than the other boys, who have brought with them to the island the class prejudices of the Home Counties. It is also significant here that Golding emphasizes the establishment of property and subtly critiques the concept of ownership by discovery. Ralph gains status from his possession of the conch shell, which gives him the authority to speak when the boys come together. Also, when he surveys the island from the summit of the mountain he states that it "belongs" to them, almost as an act of colonization or conquering. The invocation of colonial rhetoric suggests the struggles to come over ownership of the key resources on the island (such as the conch and Piggy's glasses) and over the power to rule one another. The novel's first chapter establishes another theme that recurs throughout the novel: the corruption of innocence. Golding emphasizes the childish nature of the boys from the outset of the narrative, and he suggests that many of the struggles that mark their time on the island have less to do with either the natural brutality of the human spirit or the corruption of political society than with the boys' young age and incapacity for responsibility. Ralph's first reaction to the abandonment is to play in the water, and Jack's impulse to "kill" falls flat when he is confronted with an opportunity to do so. The chatter of the younger boys-who fear a "beastie" and a "snake thing," as well as Piggy's constant mention of his "auntie" at home who gave him candy, are narrative details that underscore the boys' youth and their essential innocence. As the brutality and violence among the boys increase in later chapters, Golding suggests that childhood is a neutral,...
tracking img