Lord of the Flies Questions and Answers
by William Golding

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Please explain the two deaths, Piggy's and Simon's, in Lord of the Flies by William Golding.

Piggy dies after he asks whether it is better to have rules or hunt and kill. After asking this question, Roger rolls a boulder onto him. Simon dies after his conversation with the Lord of the Flies, when he finds out the beast is inside all the boys. Excited by their hunt, the other boys kill Simon as he tries to explain his finding. The other boy who dies on the island is the boy with the mulberry birthmark.

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There are actually three deaths in William Golding's novel Lord of the Flies, but the two you mention can be classified as murders and are therefor more egregious. The first death is the little boy with the mulberry birthmark who is inadvertently killed in an out-of-control fire in chapter two; Simon's death borders on accidental but Piggy's death is flagrant murder.

Simon is killed on a dark, stormy night after he has discovered the truth about the beast from the Lord of the Flies. He is weak and exhausted, but he wants to tell the others that the beast is in all of them, is part of them. He crawls through the dense foliage to get to the spot on the mountain where the boys have all gathered to celebrate a successful hunt and eat meat. 

The boys have all gathered into a circle and begin to chant the same words as they do on a hunt: “Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood! Do him in!” Some of the littluns assume the role of a pig and a kind of a mock hunt ensues. The lightning, thunder, and rain are crashing around them, and it is clear the boys who are chanting in a circle have gotten caught up in the atmosphere and emotion of their setting--and then Simon appears, crawling out of the woods in the dark. He crawls to the center of the circle and tries to talk to them, but his words are unintelligible to them and they do not listen.

The sticks fell and the mouth of the new circle crunched and screamed. The beast was on its knees in the center, its arms folded over its face. It was crying out against the abominable noise something about a body on the hill. The beast struggled forward, broke the ring and fell over the steep edge of the rock to the sand by the water. At once the crowd surged after it, poured down the rock, leapt on to the beast, screamed, struck, bit, tore. There were no words, and no movements but the tearing of teeth and claws.... Presently the heap broke up and figures staggered away. Only the beast lay still, a few yards from the sea. Even in the rain they could see how small a beast it was; and already its blood was staining the sand.

Simon is dead, killed by the other boys, and the next day only Ralph seems to feel any sense of responsibility or remorse for this act.

While Simon's death was an accident, Piggy's was not. When Jack comes and steals Piggy's glasses one night, Piggy has had enough. While he has always been afraid of Jack--and probably still is, to some extent--he is ready to fight back. It is not going to be a fair fight, however, because Piggy can barely see and, though he has Ralph and the conch, Jack has a tribe of savages who no longer recognize the authority of the conch. 

Piggy asks “Which is better—to have rules and agree, or to hunt and kill?” It is not a difficult question for Jack, and he allows Roger to lever a boulder to drop on Piggy, smashing both the boy and the conch. 

When the naval officer arrives to rescue the boys, Ralph 

Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart, and the fall through the air of the true, wise friend called Piggy.

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tsarkryl | Student

The deaths of Piggy and Simon both signify psychological movement of the characters on the island. In order to understand these movements, we must identify the symbolism of each character.

Our introduction to Simon is after the first conch calling, when Merridew and his choir come onto the beach and Simon faints. The other boys mention that he is always fainting as hey heave him up on the platform. He is a, "skinny, vivid little boy with a glance coming up from under a hut of hair that hung down, black and coarse." In picturing this, one could imagine his shy demeanor. He represents innocence, and the naivete that comes with childhood.

Simon's desire to explore with the older boys, like the little kid who wants to "tag along," is an early indication of his desire to grow up a little, but the boys not wanting him along suggests that they know they must do "adult things," thereby they reject his request.

It is this childish nature, and the curiosity that accompanies it, which ultimately leads to the encounter with the pig's head, and the discovery of what is on top of the mountain. When Simon rushes out onto the beach later in the novel, he enters at a time when the boys have abandoned the innocent nature of youth and embraced the primal nature of man. The chant, the dance, the ritual, the fire, the eating of flesh all show a progression down the path toward primal behavior among tribe members. In killing Simon, however inadvertent it might have been, the boys have surrendered their innocence to the island.

Piggy's death is symbolic of another transition, but not all of the boys make it.

Our introduction to Piggy is on the mountain. He is fat. People make fun of him. He talks funny. This is all obvious. His symbolism, however, lies within the details. He wears glasses. He uses an inhaler for his asthma. He incessantly quotes his Auntie and her handed-down wisdom. Piggy has answers. He knew what the conch was, and that if you blow into it it makes a noise. He is Ralph's adviser, and provides guidance and suggestions that move the boys' situation toward a civil, organized, and governed society.

Piggy represents the scientific advancement of man toward what we consider "proper" or "civilized" in today's society. In his death, he symbolizes the tribe's embrace of what is primal and instinctive - the opposite of what Piggy symbolizes. Like Simon, one could imagine Piggy's death was somewhat accidental. Maurice, a bit of a psychotic individual, intended to destroy Piggy, but the others were hesitant. Once done, though, they embraced the movement away from civility completely.

This left Ralph in the middle with a choice to make, thus highlighting the primary question of Golding's novel: Left without the influence of society, does man move forward, or backward?

abielreturan | Student

Can you please explain how the boys felt about the forest and how the forest is essential to the story? -Lord of the Flies William Golding