Use specific examples from the book to support why Simon would benefit from having a flashlight and a gun in chapter nine of Lord of the Flies.

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shake99 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, Simon meets his death in chapter nine. His death, while something of an accident, is the culmination of the group’s descent into a primitive, unthinking, superstitious mentality. If Simon had carried with him a gun and a flashlight, he might have avoided that death, although it’s doubtful he could have staved off the group’s transformation.

Simon had been up the mountain, and he had encountered the “beast” that the boys were so afraid of. This encounter revealed to Simon the folly of the boys’ belief in the beast, for the beast was not really a beast at all.

The tangle of lines showed him the mechanics of this parody; he examined the white nasal bones, the teeth, the colors of corruption.

Simon has discovered that what the boys thought was a beast was really the dead and decomposing body of a soldier, still attached to a parachute that often billowed in the wind. Then he descended the mountain to join the boys on the beach. However, his timing was fateful.

On the beach, the boys began to dance and chant, “Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood!” The boys have changed:

There was the throb and stamp of a single organism.

It is into this that Simon arrived. As he stepped out of the forest, one of the smaller children shouted, “Him! Him!” Then:

The circle became a horseshoe. A thing [Simon] was crawling out of the forest. It came darkly, uncertainly. The shrill screaming that rose before the beast was like a pain. The beast [Simon] stumbled into the horseshoe.

The boys, now so caught up in their ritual, either did not recognize Simon or did not care. They fell on him, killing him. Later, he was washed away by the tide.

So, if Simon had carried a flashlight with him, he could have avoided being mistaken for the beast. He wouldn’t have come “darkly,” and he probably wouldn’t have “stumbled into the horseshoe” at all.

If he had carried a gun, he could have defended himself. Although, to be accurate, this would not be in Simon’s nature. He is not a violent person. But perhaps he could have startled the mob of boys back into reality.

Kristen Lentz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Simon would have benefitted greatly from carrying a gun and a flashlight in Chapter Nine, "A View to A Death."  In this particular chapter, Simon crawls out of the forest toward the mob of boys:

"A thing was crawling out of the forest.  It came darkly, uncertainly. The shrill screaming that rose before the beast was like a pain.  The beast stumbled into the horseshoe" (152). 

Then Simon is summarily beaten to death by the rest of the boys in the horseshoe formation.

If Simon had carried a flashlight, the outcome would have been very different indeed.  Instead of being seen as a "thing" or being perceived as "darkly, uncertainly," Simon could have cheerily lit his own way with the flashlight, alerting the boys to his presence in an orderly fashion.  Using the flashlight to define his path and signal the other boys would have helped Simon avoid being seen as a threat or a beast. 

The gun would have also been a useful tool.  Simon, being one of the less violent boys (unlike Jack or Roger) would have hesitated using the gun to fire upon any of the boys in the death mob who attempted to attack him.  Rather, Simon could have used the gun to great affect by firing a single shot into the air.  The sharp noise of the gun fire would have broken the mob-like chanting of the boys, thus securing the boys' attention.  Then Simon could have explained himself-- "Boys, get a grip!  It's just me, Simon!"  If only he had carried a gun, Simon could have avoided the dreadful scene in which the "crowd surged after [Simon]...screamed, struck, bit, tore.  There were no words, and no movements but the tearing of teeth and claws" (153). 

In many ways, both of these tools represent civilization--the need for light, the need for defense and protection.  Without them, Simon was sadly on his own and met a savage end.

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Lord of the Flies

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