The character of Simon is featured heavily in the novel, but his personality is quite a mystery to the reader. This essay aims to explore and explain the importance and significance of Simon in the novel, and various viewpoints and connections with him and other characters.
Firstly Simon’s importance will be considered in relation to the plot of Lord of the Flies. Generally Simon is on the outskirts of the goings on in the novel, such as meetings or when the three boys climb the mountain to find the beast, but occasionally he speaks out, to the sound of much ridicule from the rest of the children. One such occurrence is on page 159 where, after much prompting he manages to say: ‘ “I think we ought to climb the mountain” ‘ then a few lines later he whispers: ‘ “What else is there to do?” ‘. These apparently irrational ideas are in fact those of a much more intelligent mind and in truth are not as unusual as the boys imply, but on the island he is generally regarded as weird.
Up until his death, Simon is often ignored and left to himself in the novel, with only Ralph and Piggy really taking any notice, such as on page 64 only the Ralph and Simon are working on the shelters when Jack appears, and Simon suddenly enters the conversation:
‘ “They’re hopeless. The older ones aren’t much better. D’you see? All day I’ve been working with Simon. No one else. They’re off bathing, or eating, or playing.”
Simon poked his head out carefully.
“You’re chief. You tell ’em off.” ‘
Simon is different from the other boys on the island in many ways. As a contrast to most of the boys, he is helpful and useful around the camp, such as helping to construct the shelters. “Simon. He helps”… “Simon’s always about”. This quotation describes how Simon lives in peace with the island and all the children on it. Simon still mangers to live in peace with everyone, even ‘Jack’ he mangers to get on with, even when there not friends as such, but they do not really bother each other.
Simon is a mature and sensible person, as mentioned earlier. In Chapter Seven, we find out that Simon cares for all, as a person even people who he thinks are ‘bad’ just like a prophet. Here, he helps out Jack with his wound, which even deepens our understanding of this care. He seems to have the quality of being a follower and in that way reassures Ralph about the problems on the island and thoughts about being rescued. Simon understands Ralph’s state of mind and also understands the future (page 137). One of the most important points to note in this Chapter is to realise that Simon does not take part in ‘The Game’ where they pretend Robert is a pig and in doing so hurt him quite severely, showing his maturity and foresight.
Simon is also often described as ‘queer’ ‘batty’ ‘crackers’ and ‘funny’, but the youth of the boys deprives them of the ability to express more clearly what they are implying. He is thought of as odd most simply because he is different.
Simon is used to represent many images in the novel. The following few paragraphs should highlight most of these. Firstly it appears that Golding is showing Simon to be a spiritual guide. When he is walking through the jungle towards his cavern, he comes across some small children: “little-uns”. They are trying to reach some fruit located just beyond their grasp in a tree so Simon obligingly picks the ‘choicest’ fruit from the foliage and passes it back down to the ‘endless outstretched hands’. This scene can be likened to an event in the bible, which is where Jesus Christ feeds five thousand people with a few loaves of bread and some fish, showing Simon to be Christ-like. Simon is the saviour for these children; they had been trying for hours to reach the juiciest fruit from the tree and Simon has effectively saved them from starvation. He also attempts to deliver the ‘good news’ to the other children, about the beast being only human, and it being inside themselves, but is killed in the process, very much like Jesus. He may be considered as a sacrifice to save the other children.
The author uses the character of Simon to convey his ideas throughout the novel until Simon dies. One example is when Simon converses with the Beast.
Simon states on page 177: ‘ “Fancy thinking the Beast was something you could hunt and kill!” ‘. At the climax of the argument with the pig head, the ‘Lord of the Flies’, starts to get “waxy” with Simon. The ‘Lord of the Flies’ continually tells Simon that if he tries to escape, it (the Lord of the Flies) will be there. ‘Simon’s body freezes stiff with fright. “I’m warning you. I’m going to get waxy” ‘. Then to finish the argument, the ‘Lord of the Flies’ says:
‘ “Or else, we shall do you. See?”
“Jack and Roger and Maurice and Robert and Bill and Piggy and Ralph. Do you see?” ‘
After this Simon has what appears to be an epileptic fit and passes out of consciousness.
This passage of dialogue between Simon and the ‘Lord of the Flies’, can be compared to Christ’s agony in the garden of Gethsemane before the Crucifixion, and his words to Peter; “Simon, are you asleep… you should be awake, and praying not to be put to the test. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (The Jerusalem Bible, Mark 14:37-39).
The author uses Simon to portray the fact that the Beast is imaginary and “Man’s eternal illness”. In this way Simon proves a very useful and confusing character.