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Humorless Laughter in Lord of the Flies

            Usually laughter is the expression of lightheartedness and contentment; however, in Lord of the Flies, William Golding describes laughter as "cruel.shivering.derisive. and bloodthirsty." Laughter, in its purest form, is a way to convey agreement, friendship, empathy, and harmony. Laughter in Lord of the Flies is first used as a tactic to bully, but, as the power of the beast and evil on the island escalates, laughter becomes an opportunity for the boys to excuse, hide, and disregard their disintegrating morals.
             Laughter can easily be used to mock and ridicule, and a group's degradation and humiliation of a single person can create a sense of camaraderie and unity. In Lord of the Flies, the mockery centers around Piggy, whose physical appearance and feminine characteristics isolate him from the rest of the children. During one scene early in the book, Jack sneers, " 'shut up Fatty'.and a storm of laughter arose and even the tiniest child joined in" (21). The children, desperate to feel included in the safety, comfort, and unity of their elders, recognize the laughter and join in. Laughter can also be a tactic of validating one's power; through mockery, one can prove they have the authority to choose who and what is laughable. Jack seems to learn this early on, and consequently uses Piggy's weakness to his advantage. After Jack neglects the fire and ruins the boys' chance of rescue, he becomes embarrassed, and by teasing Piggy, "the hunters began to laugh. and Jack felt encouraged" (73). By ridiculing Piggy, Jack gains authority, popularity, and forgiveness, and seems to display his control over the moods of the group. But, as circumstances on the island begin to grow worse, the mockery of Piggy evolves into a way for the boys to feel like a group and to be alleviated from their increasing fears. During one aggressive confrontation between Jack and Ralph over power, tensions rise, Piggy is accidentally burned, and "the crowd of boys were united and relieved by a storm of laughter.

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