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

Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

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What unusual activity does Simon engage in during the night in Chapter 5 of Lord of the Flies?

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In William Golding's allegory, Lord of the Flies, Simon is the most symbolic of characters, and this symbolism is evident in Chapter Five.  Jack attempts

..."to talk about this fear and decide and decide there's nothing in it.  I'm frightened myself, sometimes; only that's nonsense!  Like bogies.  Then, when we've decided, we can start again and be careful about things like the fire."

He wants to give the problem a definitive answer that will satisfy the boys and quiet their anxities.  However, the intuitive Simon knows that this anxiety cannot be given a name.  In this pivotal chapter, Simon withdraws from this useless conversation in which Jack summarily declares, "there is no beast in the forest," and does what no one else would dare:  He goes "out in the darkness."  When Simon returns, even Ralph questions him with astonishment, "What were you mucking about in the dark for?"

Like the prophet that he is, Simon tries to explain "the place I know,"--his retreat in the forest where he can quietly listen to his intuitive spirit--but Jack ridicules him.  Little Percival, whose ancient name suggests man's atavistic need to give troubling elements a name is placed in front of the group and says that the beast is in the sea, Simon, the prophet, grabs the conch and makes efforts to tell the boys the truth he has discovered.  However,

Simon became inarticulate in his effort to express mankind's essential illness. Inspiration came to him.

But, Jack reduces his effort to ridicule again, and Simon's effort

fell about him in ruins; the laughter beat him cruelly and he shrank away defenseless to his seat.

Also symbolically, Ralph "peered into the gloom."  When he tries to understand, he cannot, just as so many cannot intuitively understand as does Simon that the evil is not in the forest, but is within them and is emerging as the vestiges of civilization are cast off by Jack and the hunters.  This pivotal moment of Chapter Five is expressed in Golding's concluding paragraph:

A thin wail out of the darkness chilled them and set them grabbing for each other. Then the wail rose, remote and unearthly, and turned to an inarticulate gibbering.  Percival Wemys Madison, of the Vicarage, harcourt St. Anthony [civilization] lying in the long grass, was living through circumstances in which the incantation of his address was powerless to help him.

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In chapter 5 of Lord of the Flies, Simon goes off into the deep recess of the jungle to go to his “jungle cave.”  This is strange because most of the boys fear the night.  Even the strong characters like Ralph, Jack, and Roger.  The boys huddle together at night in their shelters but Simon prefers to be alone in the jungle to watch nature in its glory.  Simon is small and sickly so you would not expect him to be the type to go off alone in the jungle.  Simon chooses to be secluded from the group which probably saves his soul in the end.

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Towards the end of chapter three, we see Simon heading into the forest to help provide some of the smaller boys with food, but after doing so, he continues into the woods even though darkness is coming.

The rest of the boys try very hard to stay together at night, to have comfort in the presence of other boys in the night time which brings a deep terror into most of their hearts.

But Simon stays out in the woods alone, he crawls into a thicket and purposely closes himself off from the rest of the boys so that he is "utterly alone,' the complete opposite of what most of the boys are looking for at night.  So he sleeps alone, and perhaps it is part of the reason that he does not get the night terrors like the rest of the boys do.

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