Towards the end of chapter one, Ralph, Jack, and Simon are returning to the platform after their expedition when they come across unique flowers that resemble candles. Simon is the first to identify the dark evergreen, aromatic flowers by saying, "Like candles. Candle bushes. Candle buds" (Golding, 40). Jack then takes his knife and immediately slashes one of the flowers and Ralph comments, "You couldn’t light them . . . They just look like candles" (Golding, 40). Jack then comments that they cannot eat the flowers, dismisses them as unimportant, and continues to walk towards the platform.
Golding utilizes the boys's different reactions to the candle bud flowers as a way to characterize each of them. Simon is characterized as an insightful, curious boy, who immediately attempts to identify the unique flowers. Simon's affinity for correctly identifying the flowers coincides with his ability to accurately identify the beast. Simon also appreciates the pleasant flowers, which illustrates his affinity for the natural world. Simon's character is associated with inherent knowledge, wisdom, and an appreciation for nature, which are three attributes he displays by correctly describing the flowers.
Jack's reaction to the flowers characterizes him as a violent individual, who is only concerned with satisfying his physical desires. By slashing the flower and dismissing the plant because it is inedible, Golding depicts Jack’s hostile personality and affinity for hunting later in the novel.
Ralph's comment about lighting the candle buds characterizes him as a pragmatic individual, who is continually searching for ways to improve their situation. Ralph's comment also foreshadows his affinity for maintaining the signal fire, which will improve their chances of rescue. As the elected chief, Ralph desperately attempts to establish a structured society on the uninhabited tropical island, and maintaining the signal fire is his primary concern.