Lord of the Flies Essential Passage by Theme: Inherent Evil

William Golding

Essential Passage by Theme: Inherent Evil

"Fancy thinking the Beast was something you could hunt and kill!" said the head. For a moment or two the forest and all the other dimly appreciated places echoed with the parody of laughter. "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 the way they are?"

The laughter shivered again.

"Come now," said the Lord of the Flies. "Get back to the others and we'll forget the whole thing."

Simon's head wobbled. His eyes were half closed as if he were imitating the obscene thing on the stick. He knew that one of his times was coming on. Te Lord of the Flies was expanding like a balloon.

"This is ridiculous. You know perfectly well you’ll only meet me down there—so don’t try to escape!”

Lord of the Flies, Chapter 8, p. 128 (Penguin: New York)

Jack and his hunters have killed a nursing sow. Although the pig in such a condition was essentially helpless, the boys feel victorious and brave in their prowess. As their descent from civilization to savagery advances, they succumb to tribal celebration by dancing over their kill. Rather than just taking the meat for food, they glory in this act as a prehistoric ritual of “appeasing the gods.” Severing the sow’s head, they impale it on a sharpened spear and set it up as an offering to the “Lord of the Flies.”

Hidden among the bushes is Simon, the resident “mystic.” He does not participate in this ritual but observes it with great interest. Even after the boys have left with their prize, Simon remains in his shelter. He sees the head as well as the entrails covered with flies.

Simon is subject to epileptic fits, something which keeps him on the fringes of the other boys. As he observes the head of the Lord of the Flies, he falls into a trance and imagines the head speaking to him, reminiscent of Jesus’s temptation by Satan in the wilderness. The Lord of the Flies calls him an “ignorant, silly little boy.” He belittles Simon in an effort to destroy his position as a self-choosing human being. He reminds Simon of his alienation from the others and threatens that even his standing with Ralph and Piggy is in jeopardy.

Simon is unable to respond to the voice. The Lord of the Flies confronts him, “Aren’t you afraid of me?” Simon denies this, stating at last that he is nothing more than a “pig’s head on a stick.”

The Lord of the Flies switches tactics, saying, “Fancy thinking the Beast was something you could hunt and kill!” He reveals his true self to Simon, who has known all along that the Beast was part of each one of them. As the Lord of the Flies says, he...

(The entire section is 1151 words.)