In Lord of the Flies, how do Piggy's and Ralph's reactions to Simon's death differ?

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mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Ralph reacts to Simon's death with candor, while Piggy tries to rationalize what has happened.

Having communicated with the Lord of the Flies, Simon felt that he must carry his news that the beast is within to the others as soon as possible. So, he came out of the clearing and down to the fire where the other boys were gathered. 

Just before Simon arrived, Roger mimicked the grunting and charging of the pig; the littluns ran excitedly around the perimeter, and Ralph and Piggy themselves became eager to have a place in this group. Roger left the circle to be the hunter, chanting with the others. As he did so "there was the throb and stamp of a singular organism." The boys did not see clearly and they envisioned 

...a beast [who] struggled forward, broke the ring...screamed something about a body...

These boys became a "struggling heap," and finally they broke up and moved away as blood stained the sand. They ran in terror as the wind caught the parachutist and they watched as his figure was thrown upon the sea. Later, the tide carried Simon's body out to sea.

The following day, Ralph is prepared to admit that he has been in that circle and has contributed to the death of the boy who came to warn them: "Piggy.... That was Simon." But Piggy is in denial:

"You stop it!" said Piggy shrilly. "What good're you doing talking like that? ... It was dark. There was that--that bloody dance. There was lightning and thunder and rain. We was scared."

"I wasn't scared.... Don't you understand Piggy? The things we did--" 

"Look, Ralph. We got to forget this. We can't do no good thinking about is, see? ... It was an accident, and that's that."

Despite his insistence that what happened to Simon was an accident, Piggy acknowledges that they need to be rescued and "get out of this" lawless world in which they now live.

Ralph gives in and tell Piggy to try to forget the whole affair since they cannot do any good by thinking about it. But the air is heavy with the unspoken knowledge of what man is capable of, and they shake at the horror of what they have done.

Both boys realize what has become of them and their reasoning and gentler natures. They are desperate to be successful in their attempts at flight.

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dbrooks22's profile pic

dbrooks22 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

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Ralph immediately states the fact that it was murder. He is solemn while he speaks with Piggie. He knows what he and the other boys did was wrong, but he admits that he wasn’t scared during the attack on Simon. Ralph is somewhat inarticulate as he tries to explain to Piggy what happened in the circle. He doesn’t know how to explain the sadistic emotions that overcame the group of boys. He tells Piggy that "He is afraid. Of us," meaning that he realizes they have crossed the line, and that soon, the evil in each of them will take over. Ralph is also scared that he has lost control of the group and that Jack, who is blood-thirsty, has taken over.

Piggie, on the other hand, doesn’t want to believe what happened was intentional. He keeps telling Ralph that it was an accident, that it was dark and they were scared. Piggy is so afraid to admit that the boys have become savages that he even blames what happened on Simon: “Coming in the dark—he hadn’t no business crawling like that out of the dark. He was batty. He asked for it” (Golding, Ch. 10). Piggy is afraid to believe that the boys are capable of such a horrific act because he knows that Jack hates him and he may be next.

 

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