As Ralph thinks about the ocean as a barrier, what does Simon say to him that interrupts his thoughts in William Golding's Lord of the Flies?

2 Answers | Add Yours

auntlori's profile pic

Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

By chapter seven of William Golding's Lord of the Flies, Ralph is getting discouraged and afraid that none of them will ever be rescued. In the passage to which you refer, Ralph is reflecting on what has happened to them. He has been biting his nails to the quick without realizing it, and all of them are 

dirty, not with the spectacular dirt of boys who have fallen into mud or been brought down hard on a rainy day. Not one of them was an obvious subject for a shower, and yet—hair, much too long, tangled here and there, knotted round a dead leaf or a twig; faces cleaned fairly well by the process of eating and sweating but marked in the less accessible angles with a kind of shadow; clothes, worn away, stiff like his own with sweat, put on, not for decorum or comfort but out of custom; the skin of the body, scurfy with brine—

Ralph is dejected and feels quite hopeless about their future. He walks down to the rocks on the beach and looks down at his feet, watching the incoming waves. This seems to soothe him for a time, but then he looks up. He saw the vastness of the ocean and "the almost infinite size of this water forced itself on his attention." In a moment he is confronted with the stifling realization that his life will end on this island. "[H]ere, faced by the brute obtuseness of the ocean, the miles of division, one was clamped down, one was helpless, one was condemned,"

Simon interrupts these thoughts to say, quietly into Ralph's ear, “You’ll get back to where you came from.” We have always felt as if Simon knows things that no one else knows, but this is the most startling thing he has said thus far--and both Ralph and the readers believe him. This gives Ralph hope that he and the others will be rescued, which they are. Simon was right.

ichabod's profile pic

ichabod | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Honors

Posted on

Simon says, “You’ll get back where you came from.” This is a powerful moment between Ralph and Simon in Chapter 7 of Lord of the Flies. Simon, always full of understanding, is able to read the dark thoughts passing across Ralph’s mind as he contemplates the “remoteness of the sea” and how separate and alone he feels. Ralph doesn’t even need to speak these thoughts; Simon is perceptive and knows that his leader needs support. The “brute obtuseness of the ocean” as Golding describes it, is countered by Simon’s perceptiveness, and the “miles of division” that Ralph is suffering are bridged by Simon’s sympathy and companionship.


We’ve answered 317,742 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question