Study Guide

Lord of the Flies Wisdom and Knowledge

By William Golding

Wisdom and Knowledge

Chapter 1
Piggy

[Piggy] wiped his glasses and adjusted them on his button nose. The frame had made a deep, pink V on the bridge. (1.58)

Piggy’s glasses are an essential part of him and his identity.

Within the diamond haze of the beach something dark was fumbling along. Ralph saw it first, and watched till the intentness of his gaze drew all eyes that way. (1.184)

The boys start to learn about each other based on first impressions. This is actually a good way for us (as the readers) to get a sense of the characters as well. Check out these early passages where we meet the boys for the first time.

[Ralph] […] looked at the water with bright, excited eyes. (1.54)

At first, the island has the exciting prospect of a land undiscovered.

Chapter 2
Jack

Jack pointed suddenly.

“His specs – use them as burning glasses!”

Piggy was surrounded before he could back away. (2.159-161)

Piggy’s glasses become the boys’ one technological advancement. We wonder why Jack is the boy that thinks of using them.

Chapter 7
Simon

“You'll get back to where you came from.” (7.15)

Simon is like a prophet here. He knows what he’s talking about, in the horrible-foreshadowing-of-his-own-death kind of way.

Chapter 8

[…] in front of Simon, the Lord of the Flies hung on his stick and grinned. At last Simon gave up and looked back; saw the white teeth and dim eyes, the blood – and his gaze was held by that ancient, inescapable recognition. (8.230)

Simon is able to see things and have insights that the other boys are not capable of. In this case, he sees fear, violence, death – in other words, himself, and all other human beings – captured in the grinning face of the pig.

Chapter 10
Piggy

Piggy drew up his legs.

“You all right, Piggy?”

“I thought they wanted the conch.”

[…]

“They didn’t take the conch.”

“I know. They didn’t come for the conch. They came for something else. Ralph – what am I going to do?”

Far off along the bowstave of the beach, three figures trotted toward the castle rock […]. The chief led them, trotting steadily, exulting in his achievement. He was a chief now in truth; and he made stabbing motions with his spear. From his left hand dangled Piggy’s broken glasses. (10.296-302)

Piggy’s glasses have become the most powerful item on the island. It is interesting that Piggy initially thinks of the conch; to him, order and law are more valuable than anything else.

Chapter 11
Piggy

“Ralph – remember what we came for. The fire. My specs.” (11.159)

While Ralph gets caught up in the heat of the moment, Piggy is able to ground him in reason.

He tried to remember.

“Smoke,” he said, “we want smoke.”

He turned on the twins fiercely.

“I said ‘smoke’! We’ve got to have smoke.”

There was silence, except for the multitudinous murmur of the bees. At last Piggy spoke, kindly.

“’Course we have. ’Cos the smoke’s a signal and we can’t be rescued if we don’t have smoke.”

“I knew that!” Shouted Ralph. He pulled his arm away from Piggy. “Are you suggesting–?” (11.73-78)

Ralph’s ability to think falls victim to the chaos of the island. Only Piggy remains a pillar of reason. So you can imagine what it means when Piggy later gets smashed on the rocks.

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