What is the importance of the character Simon in The Lord of the Flies? What quotes illustrate this?

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rmhope eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Simon is an important character in the book. His character is the one that best communicates the theme of the novel that violent behavior comes from the depravity within humanity and that a "perfect" environment will soon be corrupted by humans because of their moral darkness. Simon, however, is the exception who disproves the rule, for he is the character who seems least prone to jealousy, anger, fear, bullying, and the other negative qualities the other boys display. Simon is loyal to Ralph, kind to the Littluns, and friendly to Piggy. As the most intuitive and spiritually sensitive boy on the island, he is the one who doesn't believe in the beast. When the boys are discussing the beast at the assembly, Simon says, "What I mean is . . . maybe it's only us." The others scorn his answer. Although Simon hasn't been able to express his thoughts well aloud, he understands the nature of the threat the boys face: "However Simon thought of the beast, there rose before his inward sight the picture of a human at once heroic and sick." He realizes the beast is only the evil within the boys themselves. Later he is able to tell Ralph, "I don't believe in the beast."

Simon is the one who has the vision of the Lord of the Flies, the personification of evil, and through him Golding delivers the clearest statement of the book's theme. The beast says to Simon, "Fancy thinking the Beast was something you could hunt and kill! ... 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?" This shows that the evil is "part of" the boys, and it is what causes their society to deteriorate. 

Simon, armed with the revelation that the beast the boys feared was simply a fallen paratrooper with his parachute, arrives at the camp during Jack's frenzied feast. Simon is murdered by the boys he hopes to enlighten. Being the only one who understands the nature of the threat to the boys, both literally regarding the "Beast from Air," and figuratively, regarding the darkness within them, Simon plays the role of a Christ-figure. With an ironic twist, however, he does not get a chance to deliver his "good news" before he is slain, and his death does nothing to bring salvation to the boys. 

The death of Simon is a turning point in the book. Even Ralph and Piggy, supposedly the representatives of civilization, participated in his murder. Though they try to rewrite history to say they weren't at the dance, later they admit to each other that Simon was murdered. The destruction of the civilization escalates after the lone voice of morality and truth is silenced.

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Lord of the Flies

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