Study the character of Simon from the novel Lord of the Flies.
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Simon maintains a positive outlook on the boys' situation. He represents purity and goodness and can be seen as a Christ-like figure. He constantly reinforces his belief that they will be rescued when the other boys are pessimistic and have given up hope. During chapter 5, Simon is perceptive enough to recognise that the "beast" the boys are obsessive about is "only us" - he recognises the evil and savagery that is within them and threatening to take them over with the loss of all rationality. It is in Chapter 5 that Simon encounters the head of the pig killed by the other boys in the forest. This event provides the title for the book as he names the pig's head "Lord of the Flies". He converses with the pig's head, partly through his own imagination and partly via an unaccountable and savage voice. For Simon this is the confirmation of his belief that he is coming face-to-face with "The beast in everyone". He collapses in a faint and this foreshadows his death in chapter 9. In chapter 9, Simon is killed by the other boys, fulfilling the prophecy of the Lord of the Files that all of the boys would fall foul of the savagery that possesses them when they are all together. Rationality is lost when the force of their bestial nature takes over.
When it comes to it, however, Ralph's sense of duty overcomes his fear and he presses on alone. At the end of the chapter, we see how he is faced with opposition to his practical approach. He knows how important it is to get the fire going, but the others want to play. He tries touse sense to talk them round, but they aren't entirely convinced as he has ruined their fun. We see a combination of weakness and strength from Jack in this chapter and the beginnings of the challenge to Jack's leadership. He starts trying to break the rules of the society by rejecting the notion of the conch. We see Jack's anger as Ralph insists that he follow the rules. He is anxious for the hunt and gladly takes the lead. It is only when the reach the 'castle' that he hangs back a bit. We have another battle of wills - it is quite interesing that it is between the hunter (Jack), symbolic of instinct and emotion, and the chief (Ralph), symbolic of reason. Ralph goes ahead, but Jack joins him, showing that he will not be left behind. It is very significant that Jack sees the castle as an opportunity to build a fort and have fun, and that he is the one who leads the boys away at the end of the chapter.
As the book progresses and the rules of society break down we begin to see the capacity for evil emerge. This culminates in the deaths of Piggy and Simon. The island is almost destroyed by fire. Ralph is chased like a wild animal and would almost certainly have been murdered if the naval officer had not arrived. I think that it is Golding's view that it is the boys who bring evil to the island. You will need to decide what you think and then back this up with evidence from the text. In chapter five there is a lot of discussion about what the beast may be. For Jack, the beast is nothing more than a wild animal to be hunted and killed. His view is that if there is a beast then it is something that they will have to put up with. Piggy, who is very logical, says that it is the age of science and there can't possibly be a beast. He says, "I know there isn't no beast." The younger children are convinced that the beast is a large terrifying creature. Maurice and Percival are sure that it is a large sea serpent-like creature. Simon expresses William Golding's view that the beast is actually something inside them. It is the capacity to be evil and cruel that is really the beast. At the assembly he says "Maybe it's only us." It is this view of what the beast is that the book explores in the rest of the narrative.
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