Question: Analyse how a characters experience reflects the truth of society.
Society pushes every individual to think the same way, and even in a life-threatening situation, these petty stereotypes and opinions that society puts upon us remains. This truth of society remains true and is shown in William Golding’s adventure novel, ‘Lord of the Flies’. This novel tells the story of a group of young boys, stranded on a deserted island during the second world war, with no parental guidance. The boys are placed in a dire situation and are forced to behave like adults. William Golding utilises one of the main characters in this novel called ‘Piggie’ to show how this thesis is true in not only everyday life but also in dire situations. Highlighting this truth of society through language features such as similes and descriptive language, William Golding intentionally develops the character of ‘Piggie’ to show this truth.
Piggie is an overweight, asthmatic, adopted boy with glasses, and all of these characteristics lead him to be picked on and shown as the underdog throughout this novel. “My name is piggy, well at least that is what they call me back at home, but don’t tell the others please”-Piggie. This quote was said in the first chapter of the book when Piggie and Ralph awaken from a crash and find themselves on an island. They introduce themselves to each other, and hesitantly Piggie reveals his nickname, hoping to form a bond, however Ralph after promising to keep it a secret reveals it to the whole group. Utilising descriptive language in the quote through the word “please”, emphasises the politeness of piggy and the weakness in him at the same time.
Due to his past life, Piggy already knew that he was an underdog, and society shaped his opinion of himself to be this way, so by saying please he is showing that no one ever listens to him, and he desperately doesn’t want Ralph to tell anyone. He is begging ralph to keep a secret and not let anyone know, so when Ralph tells the whole group, not only is he betraying their friendship, but using Piggies weakness to become a higher rank in their group. Ralph pushes piggy down because he knows he’s weak, in order to appear cool, and become friends with the rest of the boys.
Piggies experience of being betrayed by who he thought was a friend, shows how the way society moulds our minds, is how we will think even in dire situations. Ralph is stranded on an island, with no food or shelter, but still bullies Piggie and puts him down just like everyone in normal society is pushed to think they should. This is like any school environment with a left out the person who is bullied. It does not matter if that kid changes school, there will always be people that will bully him, and always be people that think mean thoughts. This is because the truth about society is that everyone is moulded to think the same, and William golding shows this ugly truth, through Piggies experiences.
Another example from the text that reveals this truth is when the group of boys use piggie for his glasses, but still show no care or nicety towards him. In the second chapter of the novel, the boys are showing hope by trying to light a fire to get rescued. The boys decide to utilise piggies glasses, even though they just made fun of him for his last name. “My glasses, give them back”- Piggy shrieking. William Golding describes piggies voice as shrieking, which not only describes how badly he wants his glasses back but also how disrespected by the group he is. Even though Piggie clearly wants them back, they do not give them back which shows how they don’t value him or his opinion. If they did they would have given them back because they didn’t want to upset their friend. Piggies overweight body, pink skin, glasses and asthma all lead to him not being taken seriously, because society moulds our minds to all naturally look downwards on people who have ‘negative qualities.
Another technique used is symbolism. The glasses are the only way he can see, so not only are the boys not listening to Piggie, but they are knowingly taking away something that they know will make him vulnerable. They are putting Piggie at a loss, all because they want something. Piggie is made the underdog, again. In this scenario, William Golding describes a boy in clear pain and anger, who desperately wants their glasses back, but is too invisible for the boys to care. Not a single boy cares, because they all don’t see him and think the same. This is the same in all societies, in a workplace, in a school, in a group. If there is a person who is ‘invisible’ it is only because no one talks to them or takes notice of them because a select few don’t. Society pressures every person to think the same way, and even in a situation where they need as much friendship and positivity as possible, the boys still think this way without realising it.
Further on in the book, in chapter 4 the boys find themselves turning into savages and dismissing the laws they once have. The conch that determined who spoke was being overruled by their sense of wildness and violence, and with the conch, Piggie was becoming even more invisible. “I’ve got the conch. It’s my turn to speak”- Piggie. This quote is said at the beginning of an argument when Piggie is trying to bring so civilization in so that it doesn’t escalate. The use of two short sentences in this quote put together shows how strong Piggies voice is, and how much power he hold because he believes so strongly in the conch and the law that goes behind it. After saying the quote the group simply moves on and never acknowledges what he said. He says it again with more power, and even the person who made the rule about only speaking with the conch, Ralph, doesn’t take any notice. Piggie is completely invisible.
William Golding has shown over the chapters his character fading and being less and less acknowledged. In this scenario, Piggy is completely invisible, and no one cares for him or notices him. This shows how not a single one of the boys, even the little lens cared about what he said because, from a shallow perspective, Piggie has nothing to offer and therefore didn’t exist. All of the boy’s minds were moulded by society to ignore those that were overweight, adopted, asthmatic and blind because they had nothing to offer. The truth of society is that we all are pushed to think the same, and this scene shows this clearly.
William golding develops piggy to show how the majority of people think the same. Piggie is a boy who has many disadvantages, and characteristics that are looked down upon. His character is developed to show how even in a dire situation these characteristics still result in the same treatment as back home. He is made invisible by the boys on the island, despite the fact Piggie has the intelligence to save them all.