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 does Simon's experience in the jungle glade symbolize in Chapter 3 of Lord of the Flies?

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Simon has set off by himself, leaving the other boys without explanation but possibly to escape their bickering. The others are starting to break into factions. Simon appreciates both the beauty and the limitations of nature. While many of the other boys think him odd, he is insightful about human nature.

Walking along, in the midst of the jungle, Simon finds an idyllic glade where some of the vegetation has formed a bower where he can go to think. Solitude has become rare and necessary. This place assumes an outsize importance for the privacy it offers and the natural shelter, as they are having trouble building adequate huts.

Simon's thinking about the challenges they are facing assumes a certain clarity as he contemplates their situation from his secluded spot. From his meditative state of mind, he can understand the "beast" they must combat.

While the other boys externalize their fears, creating an omnipotent animal ruler and quasi-deity, Simon realizes that the internal forces are their worst enemy. Perhaps because he takes the time to savor the finer elements of their surroundings, he has a more realistic (but not optimistic) view of their situation.

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Simon’s experience in the clearing demonstrates the beauty present in savagery.  The jungle represents the breaking down of society, and the temptation inherent within.  When the boys are stranded on the island without adults, they have to police themselves.  The setting is metaphorically significant.  A jungle is a feral, uncontrollable place.  Earlier in the chapter, Simon discusses the possibility that the beast is real, and there are real dangers in the jungle.  Yet when Simon ventures into the clearing, he sees it as a harmonious and ideal place.  This is the same as when we watch animals in the wild.  We are attracted to the symmetry of natural savagery.

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