Lord of the Flies: Piggy's Death

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  • 0:00 Summary of Piggy's Death
  • 2:47 Savagery V. Civilization
  • 4:15 Shattered on the Rocks
  • 5:15 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kimberly Myers

Kimberly has taught college writing and rhetoric and has a master's degree in Comparative Literature.

This lesson is a description and analysis of Piggy's death in 'Lord of the Flies.' We will examine the events leading up to Piggy's death, as well as the symbolic and practical effects of his death.

Summary of Piggy's Death

Piggy's death occurs in Chapter 11 of Lord of the Flies. At the beginning of the chapter, Piggy's glasses are still being held hostage by Jack's tribe. Without them, the bigguns aren't able to start a fire. Ralph decides that the four remaining members of his group will meet with Jack's tribe to ask for Piggy's glasses back and try to remind the others that collaborating to build a signal fire is their best chance of being rescued.

When Ralph's group gets to Jack's end of the island, they don't get a warm welcome. Roger throws rocks at Sam and Eric, and Jack comes back from hunting and tells all of them to go back to their territory. Ralph calls Jack a thief because he stole Piggy's glasses, leaving Piggy virtually blind. Jack and Ralph fight a little with their spears, and the atmosphere becomes very tense very quickly.

Piggy, unable to see much of what is going on, crouches against the rocks near Castle Rock. Ralph passionately tries to get the boys to see the importance of the signal fire, but Jack's group laughs at him. To provoke Ralph, Jack orders his boys to tie up Sam and Eric. Ralph and Jack fight again, and Piggy calls out above the shouting.

Piggy yells that he has the conch. He raises it in the air and the boys quiet down, curious to see what Piggy is going to say. The conch shell still has some power over them; they haven't quite forgotten the symbolic authority that it bestows on whoever holds it.

Piggy scolds the group, telling them that they are acting like children. He asks them, 'Which is better--to have rules and agree, or to hunt and kill?' Ralph chimes in and asks, 'Which is better, law and rescue, or hunting and breaking things up?'

The boys start yelling again, a 'storm of sound' and hatred. Up on Castle Rock, Roger leans on a lever and sends a giant boulder crashing down the hill. 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. Piggy's skull breaks open, and the waves quickly carry his body away.

Jack begins yelling, telling Ralph that there is no tribe left for him, the conch is gone, and that he is chief. Jack cuts Ralph with his spear, and Ralph barely escapes into the forest. Piggy is lost to the waves, Samneric are prisoners, and Ralph is alone.

Savagery v. Civilization

Piggy's character can be read as representing the scientific and rational side of human nature. He is logical, inventive, and craves order and civility. Throughout the novel, Piggy never wavers from his belief in order and authority. In contrast, Jack's tribe is taken over by the basic instincts of power, violence, and animalism.

Even as Ralph's group plans to go confront Jack, Piggy is convinced that the conch and a reasoned argument will be enough to ensure that they are heard. One of the major reasons why this confrontation is necessary is because Jack's tribe has stolen Piggy's glasses, which are the means of making fire.

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