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

Lord of the Flies

by William Golding
Start Free Trial

What are some themes in chapter 9 of Lord of the Flies?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Chapter 9 is one of the darkest chapters in Lord of the Flies. A major theme of this chapter is the irreversible descent into barbarism. Simon has just discovered the real identity of "the beast." He rushes to tell the others, but they fall on him, mistaking him for the beast, and violently kill him. With Simon's brutal death, the last vestiges of civilization are stripped away from the boys. Shortly before this gruesome incident, we can see that the situation is devolving. Jack instructs his followers to dance in an animalistic fashion around the fire. He wins over Ralph's few remaining followers, and they join him. Even Ralph and Piggy are caught up in the moment and join the frenzied display of unbridled energy. The boys have lost sense of what it means to be part of an empathetic society and devolve to their base nature. It is into this that Simon enters and is killed. His death shows that the beast is not an outside force. Rather, it is something that resides within the boys themselves.

We also see how nature imitates the action and attitudes of the boys. In this pathetic fallacy, a violent storm erupts overhead. The wind, rain, and waves appear to completely wash away any remaining vestiges of civilization left in the boys, just as it washes away the bodies of Simon and the pilot.

There is also a Christ-like theme in this chapter. Simon is sacrificed in an attempt to teach the others an important truth about their morality. He wants to show them that there is no actual beast, only a misinterpretation of what they have seen. Unlike Jesus, Simon is killed before he has the chance to share his message. He is not able to bring salvation to the others. Instead, his death just damns them further. It highlights the savagery and destructive nature that resides within the boys.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team