Question: Analyse how a relationship revealed strengths or weaknesses in a character
When isolated away from civilization, humans often revert to atypical behaviour and develop a mob mentality. This is shown in William Golding’s adventure story “Lord of the Flies”, through the relationship between two major characters, Ralph and Piggy. Ralph is the leader of the group, who makes many decisions but is seen as the plot develops, losing his power. Piggy is a disadvantaged character, who shows values such as honesty, integrity and loyalty. The relationship between these contrasting characters is explored through the use of language techniques such as punctuation and descriptive language, and as William Golding develops this core relationship it reveals weaknesses in Ralphs character such as how unloyal and praise seeking he is.
Ralph and Piggys friendship begins when they find themselves stranded on a deserted island together. Without any certainty that other boys are alive, they are under the assumption that they only have each other, (at least for now) so therefore, they must get along. In the early stages of their relationship, Piggy exposes his vulnerable side and is later seen getting betrayed by Ralph.
“His names are piggy, it’s piggy like a pig hahaha!!!”-Ralph. This is the first instance in which Ralph shows that he has the weakness of being unloyal. He was aware that piggy did not want his nickname to be known, yet betrayed him as a way to get praise from the fellow islanders. His ignorance of the damage that he had done to Piggy and his emotions is shown in this quote through the use of repetition. Ralph repeats telling the boys it is ‘Piggy’ twice. This shows that he simply did not let it slip, but intentionally hurt his friend, and wanted the praise over his friendship.
This is seen in many situations in our society when leaders make speeches and repeat something over and over again; such as Martin Luther Kings speech ‘I have a dream. Throughout his speech, he repeats the word I have a dream and is what people remember him for. They know that he has a dream and has no regrets for what he says in his speech, just like Ralph has no regrets in exposing piggy and backstabbing him. He shows a weakness of being unloyal through the abuse of Piggy and Ralphs relationship.
Another example from the text where Piggy and Ralphs relationship reveals Ralphs weak trait of being unloyal and praise seeking is when Ralph steals Piggies glasses unconventionally. In chapter 2 Ralph is described as, snatching piggies glasses and not returning them despite Piggies upset tone and begging. “Hey, give me back my glasses, GIVE THEM BACK… please” -Piggy screeching.
The use of descriptive language in this quote shows how truly upset Piggy is, and how also uncaring Ralph is. The fact that Piggy has to repeat his words twice and even add the word “please,” tells the reader that Ralph was not giving his glasses back. William golding through the use of these language features tells the reader how Ralph does not care for Piggy and just utilises him as a tool for attention. Piggy relationship with Ralph is a way that he can get attention from the rest of the group.
Piggy and Ralphs relationship is similar to many relationships we see around us in everyday life. The friends who use each other for gossip at high school, the person who uses someone in a higher up status to make connections and get jobs, and a boss who puts down all their employers to make them seem better, and therefore get promoted. Piggy and Ralphs relationship is just a stereotypical example of a parasitic relationship that one person benefits from, and the other blindly doesn’t. Their relationship shows how Ralph knowingly puts down someone who trusts him and steps on them to get ahead. This abuse of their relationship and loyalty to the trust Piggy has for Ralph, is a weakness in Ralph.
The final example from the text that highlights the weakness of loyalty and praise seeking within Ralph, through the relationship between him and Piggy is during the separation of the group. Throughout the development of the plot of this adventure novel, the power that Ralph has, is seen being diminished, and his rival Jack is seen gaining more and more power. Near the end of this novel, the group of boys split into two groups. All of the boys side with Jack, and Piggy is the only boy on the island that sides with Ralph and remains on his team. “I will stay with a jack I guess”-Piggy.
The use of language techniques in this quote tells the reader a lot about not only how Piggy is feeling, but also Ralphs Weak Qualities. The use of the descriptive language ‘i guess’, tells the reader that piggy is not as confident in his relationship with Ralph. This is because he has begun to see how Ralph has been abusing him to gain power and recognition. Ralphs weakness has led to not only him being left by all of the members on the island, but also by the only person who stuck by him being unsure of their relationship. His weakness of being unloyal and praise seeking lead to no one praising him and his loyal followers no longer having faith.
Many people experience times like this, when they may spread gossip they heard about their friend to get in with a new crowd, but end up losing all of their friends anyway. This is a very similar situation to Ralph. When left away from civilization, ralph resorted back to atypical survival behaviour and developed a mob mentality, forgetting about how to act like english. This weakness is shown through his relationship with Piggy.
William Golding throughout the novel ‘Lord of the Flies’ developed the relationship between Piggy and Ralph to highlight the weakness of unloyalty and praise seeking within Ralph. This relationship shows through the character of Ralph that when isolated, away from civilization and normalities, humans revert to atypical behaviour, and develop a mob mentality. Ralph reverted to attention-seeking behaviour, etching to get approval from his group, whilst being unloyal to his friendship.