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

Lord of the Flies

by William Golding
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Please explain the meaning or significance of this quote from Lord of the Flies. “Fancy thinking the Beast was something you could hunt and kill!” said the head. For a moment or two the forest and all the other dimly appreciated places echoed with the parody of laughter. “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?”

The significance of the quote from Lord of the Flies is a reference to an individual’s potential for evil. Simon realizes early on that perhaps the “beast” the boys fear resides within each of them and isn’t a tangible creature on the island. The boys think that he is “nuts.” Yet in this conversation with the Lord of the Flies, Simon’s earlier insights into human behavior prove correct.

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In a hallucinatory conversation with the pig's head mounted on a stick and surrounded by flies, Simon hears the head say to him "fancy thinking the Beast was something you could hunt and kill." In the rest of the quote, the head explains what Simon has already intuited: there is no monster out there on the island threatening the boys. What threatens them is the evil within them. This is what the head means when it says "I'm close, close."

Simon thinks of the head as the Lord of the Flies. In Milton's Paradise Lost, the Lord of the Flies is Beelzebub, the second most powerful of the demons in hell. The head tells Simon that it—demonic evil—exists repressed in the boys. This, the head says, is why Simon's goodness is "no go," why Simon's desire to make things better will never happen. Evil within is "why things are the way they are."

The head will go on to try to tempt Simon, the Christ figure in the novel, to give up the fight and join the other boys. He tells Simon he is "misguided" and he should not prevent the others from having "fun" or unleashing their most primitive desires.

Simon resists this temptation, climbs up the mountain, and discovers that the "Beast" the boys fear is nothing but a dead parachuter. But he is killed when he tries to bring this good new to the others.

This quote is significant because it shows that at its core, the struggle the stranded boys face is primarily spiritual, a battle between the good and evil that resides within their souls.

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For much of the novel, the boys on the island search for the "beast" which many believe lurks in the darkness, wanting to cause them harm. As early as chapter 5, Simon begins to understand that perhaps this "beast" isn't an entity that they can hunt down and kill. As they fight among themselves about whether the beast exists or not, Simon hesitantly utters that "maybe there is a beast." Because of his personality, this shocks Ralph, who questions, "You, Simon? You believe in this?" Simon then clarifies that "maybe [the beast] is only us." Even Piggy, who is typically a sound voice of reason in the group, thinks that Simon's comment is "nuts." Simon tries to explain but finds that he is incapable of explaining "mankind's essential illness."

The quote you have listed is found in chapter 8, when Simon is alone with the Lord of the Flies, which is actually a pig's head that Jack has mounted on a stick in the ground. It is worth noting that Beelzebub is another name for Satan and translates into English as "Lord of the Flyers" or "Lord of the Flies." The group of boys savagely killed this mother pig, covering themselves in her blood while giggling. The bloodthirsty quest which drives them to engage in increasingly destructive measures indicates that Simon was correct in chapter 5; the "beast," or evil, resides within each of the boys. The Lord of the Flies confirms Simon's belief that the boys shouldn't have feared some imaginary creature on the island; instead, they should have feared the evil that resides within each of them. This is why "things are what they are"—which is chaotic, savage, and primal. Simon attempts to convey this new understanding to the group of boys, but he is murdered before he has the chance. This proves how powerful this inner potential for evil has become; not one boy attempts to help Simon as the mob attacks him.

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This quotation, when Simon is in his hiding spot having a conversation with the Lord of the Flies is a very important moment in the book.  The boys are looking for an external beast. The pig head is saying that the beast is within. Human's often look for the external beast, the monsters and enemies that are to be feared, rather than accept our own individaul flaws and beastish natures. Humans are flawed, we have violent tendencies and dark emotions/desiers (greed, envy, etcetera).  All of the boys on the island have a negative part to them. Even Ralph and Piggy get involved in pig dance ritual when Simon is killed. Simon, however, is above this. For the Christ-imagery (or religious allegory) of the book Simon is different. He is the helper (think of when he helped build the huts, when he fed the littleuns), he is the one who is different, an outsider, but also the one with understanding, he his mystical (as also represented by his name).  When Simon has the understanding that there is not really a physical beast he goes to tell the others (bringing the dead parachutist with him) and ends up getting killed. This could be representative of carnality killing knowledge, or of the killing of Christ (depending upon th e allegory, imagery you are using). With a poliitcal allegory it could relate to something like Communism (Jack) courts democracy (Ralph) and destroys Knowledge (Simon).

Ultimately it is important in all the symbolisms of the book that Simon, the only individual who understands the truth, is destoryed.This relates directly to the theme that understanding is often destroyed by other desires/traits.

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