The second character to be introduced in the book; Piggy immediately grabs the pity of the reader. Piggy is short, fat, has glasses, and is an orphan. He has a far different social standing than the “fair haired boy”. This is shown by the fact that since first seeing him, Piggy develops a following of Ralph. As Piggy is doubtlessly used to however, Ralph shows very little interest in him. Piggy asks Ralph his name, which is an obvious introductory act, designed to let Piggy get to know Ralph. The reader sees Piggy’s hopes that Ralph will ask him the same question, and the reader feels Piggy’s disappointment when he does not. The reader understands that Piggy is not a popular boy at school, and so is used to having his expectations let down, but Piggy might have thought Ralph was different, he would have been hoping for a new start. When he finds out that Ralph is no different, and he will be treated no differently on this island than he would be at home, Piggy must feel upset. Instantly Piggy falls into his following role; lagging behind Ralph as he strides toward to beach and asking irritating yet easily-ignored questions.
As a final, last-ditch attempt at friendship with Ralph, Piggy tells him his darkest secret: his school nickname which he so detests:
“They used to call me ‘Piggy’.”
Piggy thinks of this as sign of his truth in Ralph, an act of friendship that he hopes will be interpreted by Ralph. This does backfire horribly in one sense, as Ralph now starts to actively mock Piggy, which he had not done before. In another sense, it partially worked, as now Ralph at least acknowledges Piggy, which he had not done before either. Piggy chooses to see the latter sign, and is glad of Ralph’s teasing, simply because he is paying him attention. This is a sign not of Piggy’s pessimistic spirit, but a sign of his humble desperation, and even of the joy he has at settling back into his old role of the victim.
Already in the very early stages of the book, Piggy’s role as the ‘nerd’ of the group is established. This is very explicitly put by Golding, and so the reader’s first feelings towards Piggy are those of pity. We do get examples of some of Piggy’s qualities however, as the book progresses. For, while the healthy Ralph swims in the sea, rejoicing in his newfound paradise, and enjoying it to the full, Piggy is different. For here, Piggy still has asthma, is still fat, and is still picked on by other children. Piggy thinks of the more logical, practical points of their situation: “I expect we’ll want to know all their names, and make a list. We ‘ought to have a meeting.”
He also puts ideas, and later words into Ralph’s head; he gives the idea of blowing the conch to Ralph, an idea that can so easily be claimed by Ralph to be his own:
“Ralph! We can use this to call the others and have a meeting!”
Piggy develops a small ‘obsession’ with this conch, which ultimately ends with his own death. Ralph betrays piggy when he tells the others his shameful name, which will be the only name he is known as through the book: “He’s not Fatty,” cried Ralph, “his real name’s Piggy!” Again, the reader feels Piggy’s pain. Piggy temporally feels anger with Ralph at his betrayal, and so his hesitant to vote for him in the election for the chief, the only person outside the choir who is. Again, Piggy’s sense is shown when he recognises Ralph as the lesser of two evils: the other being Jack, who actively mocks him from his arrival:
“You’re talking too much,” said Jack Merridew. “Shut up, Fatty!”
Piggy quickly becomes the outcast of the whole group. Although he is actually one of the ‘bigger’ boys, both in age and in weight, even the littleuns laugh at him. He becomes very vulnerable as well, especially towards the end of the book. His glasses are an important possession of his, and in fact, they are second only to the conch in what Piggy’s values. When he loses these glasses, he of course loses his sight, and is even more vulnerable. It is perhaps fitting that because he looses his glasses, he also loses the conch and his life. His glasses are also a type of comfort blanket to him. There are many times in the book when he cleans his glasses, and they are usually when he is upset or angry. This is most probably because his glasses steam up when he is distressed, but he seems to clean them whenever he is angry or upset, regardless of whether they are steamed up or not. It also develops that he is actually lazy, and shies from physical work. This laziness is the only reason the reader has for not feeling completely sorry for this poor, bullied boy whose intelligence is masked by physical and social disadvantage.
Simon in many ways is a lot like Piggy. Both boys are outsiders, although Simon is not as much of one as Piggy is. This is for two reasons, the obvious one being that Simon does not have the physical and social disadvantages of Piggy, although he is described as being ‘small’ and does seem to have epilepsy. The other is because Simon is much quieter than Piggy, and keeps his opinions to himself. This is probably because Simon does not know how to express his ideas as well as Piggy does, but it could also be that Simon has had years of Jack Merridew’s oppression, and Piggy has not. Piggy and Simon are both great thinkers also, albeit in slightly different ways, and they both realise the importance of having a signal fire.
Simon is introduced into the book as “the choir boy who had fainted” this suggests that he is different immediately. Simon’s character develops into a quiet, shy boy, but with a talent for realism. He prophesises Ralph’s survival and return from the island:
“You’ll get back alright.”
Also, he is the only boy on the island, including Piggy, who knows the truth about the beast. Some of the older boys, particularly Ralph and Jack claimed outwardly at first that the beast does not exist, and that they are not frightened of it. Simon however knows that the beast does indeed exist, and that it lives within each and every one of them. Simon therefore has more reason to be afraid of the beast than all the others do, given his knowledge. Simon has no fear of the island though, unlike the other boys, for he knows that it holds nothing that could harm him, apart from the other boys, and so he moves freely about the island.
It is Simon’s lack of fear of the island that leads him to discover the truth about the dead parachutist, which was thought to be the beast: “The beast was harmless and horrible; and the news must reach the others as soon as possible.” In this discovery, one of his beliefs is proved right. That is the belief that there is nothing else on the island that can harm them. His second belief, that the beast is man himself, is soon to be proved as well. For when Simon comes along to tell the boys of his discovery, he is brutally beaten to death. Ironically, it was simply his knowledge and lack of fear than lead to his death.
Simon is a very, very symbolic character indeed. More so even than Piggy. For while Piggy resembles a stereotypical outcast of the day, a fat, short-sighted, asthmatic that came from a poor background, Simon resembles something greater. Simon is in many ways the mouthpiece of Golding. By that, I mean Golding uses his character to explain what the book is about and what he is trying to say in the book. You could argue that Simon is a Christ-like figure, for he comes with a message to save man, but the majorities do not listen and so reject the message by putting him to death. Simon’s ‘funeral’ so to speak, when he drifts out to sea is also very symbolic:
“Softly, surrounded by inquisitive bright creatures; itself a silver shape beneath the constellations, Simon’s body drifted out to sea.”
This gentle removal of his body from the island of his death is a stark comparison to the death of Piggy, who is splattered against the rocks, before being swept away in a single wave.
Before their deaths, the reader’s feeling towards Simon and Piggy are of sympathy and sorrow. Golding has portrayed their background and personalities as such to encourage this, although more so with Piggy. The two boys, one a fat boy with glasses and asthma, the other quiet and often ignored. Because of their characters, the reader does feel for these boys. Incidentally, because of the characters that I have listed above, the boys will both die. The reader understands that if only these boys had not died, if only they had been listened to, then the final conclusion of the book would not be so. Piggy and Simon are two of the most important characters in the book, but their most significant moment in the book was their deaths.