Notes on Lord of the Flies Themes

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Lord of the Flies Topic Tracking: Intellectual

Chapter 1 "The Sound of the Shell" & 2 "Fire on the Mountain"

Intellectual 1: Early on, Piggy serves as the intellectual on the island. He discovers the conch in the lagoon, pointing it out and explaining to Ralph how he can use it to call the other survivors to the beach. Throughout the book this role of giving ideas to Ralph, who transfers them into action, is repeated many times.

Intellectual 2: After the boys allow a fire to burn uncontrolled across the island, Piggy reprimands them with his voice of reason, pointing out the need for having the area of the fire to be cleared of debris so that it can be controlled. He recalls that one of them, the "mulberry birthmark boy" is nowhere to be seen, suggesting that he has perhaps died in the fire. Also it is a piece of Piggy, his glasses, which give them this power of fire, a symbolic trait often equated with the attainment of knowledge (i.e. the story of Prometheus, fire bearer, in Greek mythology).

Chapter 3 "Huts on the Beach" & 4 "Painted Faces and Long Hair"

Intellectual 3: Continuing in his manner of always thinking ahead and pondering, Piggy suggests creating a sundial to tell the time for the boys, though this is of no interest to Ralph. Following this suggestion, Piggy is attacked by Jack, and his glasses--both a source of fire and also representative of Piggy's capacity for reason and knowledge--have one lens broken after they smash to the ground by the paint-faced Jack, who has grown more and more savage.

Chapter 5 "Beast from the Water" & 6 "Beast from the Air"

Intellectual 4: Now Ralph has begun to act like an intellectual after learning from Piggy. Ralph thinks and speaks with a certain logic as he points out the problems afflicting the group, reporting concerns which had already been raised earlier by Piggy, as he appeals to the boys to behave with reason in mind at all times. Already chaos and disorganization have grown more and more frequent--the boys are no longer heeding even common sense rules, suchas no defecating near the fruit trees from which they eat.

Intellectual 5: In discussing the beast, Piggy assures them the beast doesn't exist, using logic. He says, "Life is scientific." According to science and rational thought, a beast such as they had all described could not possibly exist on the island without anyone having really seen it. In contrast, Jack resorts to irrational name-calling, dubbing them all of the littluns "cry-babies" for their fears; unlike Piggy, his words lack substance and facts, they merely express his opinions. Piggy's mode of thinking is rational and leads to an actual understand of situations so that a resolution can be found. This is what Ralph has begun to learn to do.

Chapter 7 "Shadows and Tall Trees" & 8 "Gift for the Darkness"

Intellectual 6: Ralph is again compared to Piggy in his manner of thinking. He increasingly attempts to employ reason and logic to his decisions, which upsets Jack. Jack's approach to leadership is the the opposite of Ralph's, he uses fear of the beast and primal hungers to gain support.

Intellectual 7: Because Ralph acts and thinks more like Piggy now, Jack decides to leave and start his own society elsewhere on the island. Piggy, despite Ralph, Jack and Roger's stories,refuses to believe that a beast lives on the mountain, since it defies all logic.

Intellectual 8: Yet again Piggy's insight comes to the rescue. He suggests moving the fire down to the beach as the mountain has scared away everyone, since they are all fearful of the beast. Pleased, Ralph adopts this plan and considers their signal fire problem solved.

Chapter 9 "A View to a Death" & 10 "The Shell and the Glasses"

Intellectual 9: Here, despite Piggy's constant clinging to logic with his great intellect, even he loses himself to the same savagery which has consumed Jack. Due to his hypocritical behavior, questions are raised about the reliability of adhering to logic and reason alone as Piggy has done up to this point.

Intellectual 10: After taking part in the murder of Simon, Piggy copes with this hypocrisy and his own illogical behaviors by simply erasing them from his mind. He employs his intellect yet again, this time not to help "the general good" but rather to account for his own actions. He urges Ralph to insist, when Samneric approach, that they had left the feast early and as such could not have possibly known about let alone take part in the murder of Simon. Thus Piggy's hypocrisy can remain a secret. As he always does when listening to Piggy's advice, Ralph obeys.

Intellectual 11: Jack had already smashed half of Piggy's glasses and now what remains is taken. Previously a symbol of Piggy's belief in intellect, the glasses are now only known as the source of fire (and perhaps of knowledge) to the tribe. With the loss of this item, Piggy is helpless. When attacked, Piggy who had refused to believe in the beast, mistakes Jack and his hunters for it, exclaiming "It's the beast, it's real!" As they go to sleep that night, they behave illogically and decide not to keep a watch to prevent the signal fire from burning out.

Chapter 11 "Castle Rock" & 12 "Cry of the Hunters"

Intellectual 12: As Ralph talks on and on as Piggy did in the beginning, Piggy cuts him off calling it: "Jus' talk; I want my glasses back." He then suggests the illogical thing: climbing to the mountain, just the four of them, expecting Jack to return the glasses if Piggy asks him, because, "[h]e has to."

Intellectual 13: In one final attempt cling to logic and reason, Piggy asks everyone what is better, to kill and be like Indians or to have order and be rescued. His answer is a silent one, for he is killed in response. To go to Castle Rock in the first place was irrational, yet Piggy had insisted he could restore order and his sight by reasoning with the tribe. He fails.

Intellectual 14: Ralph continues to cling to Piggy as a source of guidance even though he is dead, trying to thinkand act as Piggy would. He laments to himself, however, "There was no Piggy to think for him." Piggy could not save himself, but Ralph still believes he would save him if he were there.

Intellectual 15: The name of Piggy with all his logic and guidance is invoked a final time as being a counterbalance to the "darkness of man's heart." However, Piggy himself had showed hints of this darkness at times as well, particularly when he had participated in the murder of Simon.

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