What do Ralph's and Piggy's responses toward the murder of Simon indicate about both of them?

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Kristen Lentz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Ralph and Piggy are extremely reluctant to discuss the measure of their own participation or culpability in Simon's death.  Their clipped responses and dialogue the following day reveal two aspects of their personalities and morality--that they are ashamed of what has happened, but are unwilling or perhaps fearful of taking responsibility for their actions. 

Of the two boys, Ralph brings up the subject of Simon first, saying "That was Simon...That was murder" (156).  Piggy refuses to discuss, and his avoidance reveals how he does not want to accept any responsibility for what has happened.  He insists that Ralph not talk about it, and blames Simon's murder on the surrounding details of the event:

"There was that--that bloody dance.  There was lightning and thunder and rain.  We was scared!" (156)

Even when Ralph brings up the fact that he did not feel frightened, Piggy tries to make excuses that maybe Simon was not hurt as badly, or that it was all an accident. 

At the end of the conversation, Piggy's wheedling has convinced Ralph and himself to avoid connecting themselves with Simon's murder.  Although this childish avoidance of accepting responsibility can be seen as extremely negative, the reader may also reflect that their responses have some positive connotation.  The boys' collective shock and dismay at Simon's fate reveals that there are still vestiges of civilization and morality left in the both of them.  If they had truly no regrets or second thoughts about what had happened, then Ralph and Piggy would truly be as savage and barbaric as Jack and his hunters. 

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