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

Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

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Student Question

How has the theme of power, shown through Simon and Roger, shifted since the beginning of Lord of the Flies in chapters 3 and 4?

Expert Answers

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The theme of power shifts as the novel progresses, and this can be seen in the characters of Simon and Roger.

Simon and Roger react to the changing society in very different ways. At the beginning, Roger wants to act in accordance with the rules of society that prevails at home. As the story progresses, he joins the more violent core of boys who follow Jack and abandons the social norms they knew at home. Conversely, Simon removes himself from society altogether, withdrawing into himself. This is one of the factors that contributes to his death.

When the reader is first introduced to Roger, he appears to be a voice of reason who wants the boys to comport themselves according to the rules of civility and use the democratic process. We see this in chapter 1:

The dark boy, Roger, stirred at last and spoke up. “Let’s have a vote.”

The other boys agree to a vote to determine who will have authority. They also agree that only the one holding the conch will speak. At this point, the boys are acting in a civilized manner, modeling their behavior on how they would expect their parents would behave. As the novel progresses, many move away from civilized behavior and become wild. Roger is a prime example. When Roger begins throwing pebbles at Henry in chapter 4, the author notes,

Round the squatting child [Henry] was the protection of parents and school and policemen and the law. Roger’s arm was conditioned by a civilization that knew nothing of him and was in ruins.

For Roger, society is in ruins and he no longer obeys its norms. This society is still in transition and has not broken down into utter chaos yet. Chapter 4 also notes,

Nevertheless, the northern European tradition of work, play, and food right through the day, made it possible for them to adjust themselves wholly to this new rhythm.

However, as society transitions, the power dynamics among them also shifts. Roger gets closer to Jack. As this occurs, Roger becomes less cooperative with the other boys. We see this when Ralph rebukes him for letting the fire die.

“We want smoke. And you go wasting your time. You roll rocks.”

Roger shouted.

“We’ve got plenty of time!”

Ralph shook his head.

Unlike Roger, Simon does not become aggressive. While Roger gets more confrontational, Simon retreats into himself. He leaves the group to explore the island alone. He isolates himself from the others, which ultimately contributes to his death.

Simon turned away from them and went where the just perceptible path led him. Soon high jungle closed in.

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