Two separate illustrations of an animal head and a fire on a mountain

Lord of the Flies

by William Golding
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In chapter 8 of Lord of the Flies, why does Simon want to climb the mountain?

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The mountain top is established as a significant destination early in the book, and Simon is one of first boys to reach it. Together with Ralph and Jack, when they were still getting along, Simon had made progress along the mountain’s edge. When they reached the top, they could finally determine that they were in fact on an island.

One of the littluns speculates about the presence of an unidentifiable “snake-thing” or “beastie” that wants to eat him. Although Ralph staunchly denies that it exists, the concept expands; soon all the boys are referring to this “beast.” The fear of the unknown and their precarious situation are solidified into the idea of such a creature, but even Jack and his hunters, boys who claim to be the bravest boys, do not want to seek it out.

Simon is a sensitive, introspective boy who finds the demands of group living more taxing than the others. Although he willingly does his share, he also sometimes vanishes without warning. Showing no fear of the solitary forest, he makes his way through dense foliage and discovers the cabin-like hiding place beneath it.

By the time he decides to go to the mountain by himself, the situation has deteriorated. Ralph has tried to keep the boys together, insisting in vain that they confront their fear, so it will not overtake them. After a long discussion about its existence and possible source, Simon is the only one of the older boys to suggest they consider its reality and that it might be them.

Simon became inarticulate in his effort to express mankind's essential illness.

After Samneric sees the beast—which is actually the downed parachutist—the idea of hunting the beast gains urgency. Simon, who feels sick thinking about the heroism required to pursue it, also realizes that they will continue to squabble. After they reject his suggestion that they all go seek it atop the mountain, Simon decides that he must make the ascent on his own. In losing his fear of the beast, Simon may have lost the will to fight for survival.

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Simon wants to climb the mountain to find the beast. Although the others shudder at the idea, Simon, the most spiritually inclined of the group, is not afraid. He realizes the group of boys is splintering after Jack runs off, so Simon want to do something.

Simon realizes that they will be paralyzed and unable to make the best decisions until they understand what the beast really is. Therefore he sneaks off, lies among the butterflies, and watches as Jack and his followers kill the pig. He has a hallucinatory conversation with the pig's head, in which it tells him it is Satan's minion, "the lord of the flies." It also informs Simon that the beast he seeks is not out there on the mountain but is the evil that resides inside each of them. Simon realizes that the boys have to conquer their own desire for violence and pleasure—they need to control their own beasts within. Jack, however, has by now unleashed the atavistic beast within the boys.

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Unlike the other boys on the island, Simon understands the true nature of the beast and does not believe that there is some enigmatic, malevolent creature roaming the island. Since Simon is not worried about a beast attacking him, he has no problem climbing to the top of the mountain. It is also important to remember that Simon has already traveled through the forest alone at night without being attacked. In chapter 8, Jack attempts to usurp power and leaves Ralph's group. Shortly after, Ralph and Piggy seem discouraged and don't know what to do next. Simon then interrupts and says,

"I think we ought to climb the mountain." (99)

Piggy and Ralph dismiss Simon's suggestion and proceed to collect firewood while Simon heads to his secret spot in the forest. Later on in the chapter, Simon hallucinates, and the Lord of the Flies speaks to him. The severed pig's head confirms Simon's suspicions that the beast is the inherent evil inside each boy on the island. The Lord of the Flies tells Simon,

"Fancy thinking the Beast was something you could hunt and kill!" said the head. . . "You knew, didn't you? I'm part of you? Close, close, close! I'm the reason why it's no go? Why things are what they are?" (111)

In the next chapter, Simon wakes up with a clear head and decides to climb the mountain by himself to confirm his beliefs. In chapter 9, Simon discovers that the beast is actually a dead paratrooper. Unfortunately, Simon is mistaken as the beast during a severe storm and murdered before he can deliver the news. 

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In Chapter Eight, "Gift for the Darkness" after Jack splits from Ralph's tribe, Simon suggests that the remaining boys "ought to climb the mountain. [...] What else is there to do?" (128)

The rest of the circle, Piggy included, view Simon with "derisive incomprehension," and Simon's idea is quickly forgotten by the rest of the tribe (128).  Simon, as suggested by his "what else is there to do" comment chooses to climb the mountain by himself.  His actions are motivated by two desires: 1) a desire for action, over inaction, and 2) his curiousity to figure out what the beast truly is.  The narrator reveals that Simon goes and sits far away from the others after his idea is vocally rebuffed by Piggy; this must hurt Simon, especially when he was one of the only boys to be consistently nice to Piggy. 

Simon goes and climbs the mountain to do something; his decision to climb it by himself after the other boys declined reveals that he does not want to just sit around and wait for something to happen, and his decision might have also been a way to blow off steam after the other boys would not listen to his idea.  Instead, Simon chooses to be proactive and go to the mountain to see for himself.  Simon frequently liked to go into the jungle by himself to think and be alone. His solitary trip to the mountain will give him plenty of opportunity to do both.

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