William Golding's Novel Lord Of The Flies: A Struggle Between The Moral And The Immoral

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Lord of the Flies

A constant struggle between good and evil exists in our lives today, just as it has in the past. Any person wants to have the comfort of believing that good will always conquer over evil, right will always trump wrong, and that a true utopia does exist; however, in reality it is more common that strong, ruthless, and evil come out on top. In William Golding’s novel “Lord of the Flies”, this struggle can be seen amongst the characters of the story. After a series of unfortunate events, a group of young boys are left stranded on a tropical island where they, without adults or authority, attempt to recreate an orderly society. The boys only have the highest hopes and best intentions for their new lives, but as time progresses the differences in their personalities are shown, and the more power hungry, ruthless, and savage of the boys take over the island, while the civilized and intelligent boys are left in a constant fear for their lives.

In the beginning of the novel an intelligent character that suffers through the struggle of acceptance is introduced, and his name is Piggy. Even before arriving at the island Piggy lived a life full of ridicule. As he explained to the novel’s protagonist, Ralph, “I was the only boy in our school what had asthma,” and he goes on to say, “And I’ve been wearing specs since I was three.” (pg.9) Piggy had always been the odd one what with his asthma and bad vision, but due to his size he tells Ralph that at his old school “They used to call me Piggy,” (pg.11) a nickname that stuck and tortured him. As the other characters in the book are introduced they all seem to unanimously un-include Piggy and any contribution he might have had toward their survival. On one occasion when Piggy simply tries to tell Jack Merridew, the antagonist, the names of the younger boys on the island to which Jack replies “You’re talking too much, shut up, Fatty.” (pg.21) This is the kind of treatment Piggy constantly received from the others and it become common opinion that “Piggy was an outsider, not only by accent, which did not matter, but by fat, and ass-mar, and specs, and a certain disinclination for manual labor.” (pg.65) The only item Piggy possessed that the other boys required was the glasses he wore, one of the very reasons Piggy was an outcast was essential to creating fire for the other boys’ survival. When the boys come to realize that they could use Piggy’s glasses to create fire they did not ask to use them, the author writes “[Piggy’s] voice rose to a shriek of terror as Jack snatched the glasses off his face.” (pg.40); the boys simply took whatever they wanted from Piggy. Ralph believed the fire was completely essential for their rescue, and this meant the glasses were as well; when the boys saw a ship the Ralph was shouting “Piggy’s sepcs! If the fire’s all out we’ll need them!” (pg.67), because he knew that Piggy’s glasses were the only hope they had for signaling a rescue. Throughout many instances Piggy is labeled as the outcast and is ridiculed, but as the plot develops Piggy begins to change as well.

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As the situation on the island changes the boys begin to segregate themselves, the civilized and the savage, and Piggy reaches a point at which he begins to change. At first Piggy’s intelligence was viewed as dull, and it seemed unimportant to the other boys, but as the society on the island fell apart, Ralph began to appreciate Piggy’s intelligence. Ralph realized he needed to be able to think, and the author writes, in relation to Ralph and Piggy, “Piggy, for all his ludicrous body, had brains. Ralph was a specialist in thought now, and he could recognize thought in another.” (pg.78) Piggy’s intelligence was no longer useless; it became a valuable tool towards survival and logical thinking. A major turning point for Piggy in the novel is when Jack breaks Piggy’s glasses. After Piggy publically addresses Jack for allowing the fire to go out, Jack moves to smack Piggy, and when he does “Piggy cries out in terror. ‘My specs!’” and once he retrieves them from the ground he says, “One side’s broken.” (pg.71) Piggy’s glasses breaking is so significant because Piggy’s glasses were a symbol of his intelligence on the island, when the glasses broke Piggy kept saying “Now I only got one eye.” (pg.72), because losing a part of the glasses was equal to losing apart of himself. By this point in the story, Piggy is beginning to be accepted and wants to be able to fit in; he lost a part of his shy personality when he lost “an eye”, and he loses more of it when he participates in Simon’s death. Jack and his tribe are celebrating the success of a kill, when Piggy and Ralph go to join them while a storm is approaching the island. Over the noise and confusion of the storm, the flashes of lightening, and the chant of the hunters; Simon, crawling out from the center of the island, is confused for the beast, and “the crowd surged after [him], poured down the rock, leapt on to the beast, screamed, struck, bit, tore. There were no words, and no movements but the tearing of teeth and claws.” (pg.153). At this point in the novel, Piggy is no longer the shy boy he once was, by this point he has shed his old personality and now faces the controversy of the island with a new perspective.

After the death of Simon, one of the civilized boys of the island, Piggy is forced to face the fact of his death, and face the other boys of the island and what they have become. Piggy refuses to believe that they are murderers, in his mind him and Ralph were on the outside of the circle, and regardless Simon’s death was an accident. Piggy kept repeating, “It was an accident, that’s what it was. An accident.” (pg.157). He tried to prove to Ralph that logically it was not their fault, “[Simon] was batty. He asked for it.” (pg. 157), but the memory of what happened constantly hung in their minds. After the murder occurs, Jack’s tribe raids the other tribe’s camp for fire, in which Piggy’s glasses were taken, leaving him blind. At this point in the story Piggy is willing to confront Jack, and he plans to tell him “you’re stronger than I am and you haven’t got asthma. You can see, I’m goin’ to say, and with both eyes. But I don’t ask for my glasses back, not as a favor. I don’t ask you to be a sport, I’ll say, not because you’re strong, but because what’s right’s right. Give me my glasses, I’m going to say- you got to!” (pg. 171). When the civilized boys go to castle rock to confront the others Ralph and Jack begin to fight, and at this point Piggy takes the conch and addresses all the remaining boys left on the island; he asks them, “Which is better- to be a pack of painted Indians like you are, or to be sensible like Ralph is? 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?” (pg. 180). With this speech Piggy had posed one of the biggest controversial questions in the novel to its characters, the battle between right and wrong, and this speech marks the last words Piggy will speak before his death. Roger, “with a sense of delirious abandonment,” (pg. 180) pushed all of his weight against a rock that fell from the cliff and struck Piggy. When the rock hit him, “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,” and as Piggy fell “his head opened and stuff came out and turned red. Piggy’s arms and legs twitched a bit, like a pig’s after it had been killed.” (pg. 181). The boys had turned completely savage; they had gone from simply hunting for food to murdering a fellow human being. Piggy had gone through an overwhelming personality change due to all the controversy that had taken over the island, the struggle that existed between the boys ultimately led to the end of Piggy’s life.

It is a lesson learned that even the best intentions could have negative effects; these boys who had never been exposed to such a savage lifestyle attempted to recreate the society they once knew, but just as in the real world some personalities dominate over others which allows the constant struggle of good and evil to continue with devastating consequences. Through the allegorical novel “Lord of the Flies” William Golding expresses the distress and struggle of human nature that every society must face. Piggy was just one example of a struggle in society; intellect being rejected and unrecognized as savagery takes over. Every person would like to believe that this conflict could be avoided, but in all truth there will always be a constant struggle for survival, and a constant struggle for right and just to persevere over wrong and evil.


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