Lord of the Flies By William Golding Summary and Analysis Chapter 9 - A View to a Death

Summary

As a storm builds over the island, Simon awakens from his faint and makes his way to the beast sighting on the mountain. He finds the paratrooper's body, inspects it, and realizes its true identity. From his vantage point, he can see that most of the boys are at the fire at Jack's camp, so he heads there to give everyone the news. He is so weakened by the day's experiences that he can barely walk.

Ralph and Piggy realize even the biguns loyal to Ralph have gone to Jack's party. They go as well, out of curiosity and hunger. Jack allows them to eat but, when everyone is finished eating, calls for all the boys to indicate whether they'd like to join his group or remain with Ralph's. Ralph makes a pitch for the boys to stay with him, reminding them of the first day's election. Jack has a strong hold on them, however, playing up the role of tribal chief.

The storm breaks over the party. Jack orders a dance in response to the downpour. Ralph and Piggy join in the outer fringes of the dance as well. Suddenly, Simon crawls out of the forest and into the center of the dance circle. He tries to tell them about the true identity of the beast sighted on the mountain but can barely make himself heard over the storm and the boys' now frenzied chanting. Overcome by its own momentum, the group turns on Simon as if he were the beast and kills him. The rain increases and the boys back off, leaving Simon's body on the beach. That night, the tide carries his body away.

The storm's wind fills the dead soldier's parachute and lifts him up and over the island and out to sea. This sight terrifies the boys, and they scatter, screaming.

Analysis

This chapter focuses on Simon and the fulfillment of his role as a visionary mystic. Awakening from his faint, he asks again out loud the question he put to the assembly in the previous chapter: "What else is there to do?" He must face whatever is on the mountain. That confrontation seems to have aged him: he walks with the difficulty of an old man, as if bowed down by "the infinite cynicism of adult life" that he saw in the pig's eyes.

Simon doesn't seem to fear the beast sighted on the mountain. Given the doubts he had in Chapter 6 about this supposed beast and having had a visitation from the true beast, the Lord of the Flies, Simon has moved past fear into another arena of emotion. Approaching the frightful figure on the mountain, he sees it sit up and look at him; in response "He hid his face" as if in shame over the boys' misconceptions about its menace. Then he frees the lines of the soldier's parachute from the rocks, enabling the dead soldier to fly off during the storm, which it does upon Simon's death.

In a way, the soldier is actually working as an agent of the true beast, bringing out the worst in the boys. They do not band together to overcome this fearful situation but allow their own worst impulses to surface and dominate, fragmenting into opposing groups and killing one of their own in a frenzy of fear and savagery. Considering that his arrival on the island was brought about by a battle of the ongoing war, the soldier truly was an emissary of the beast, the savagery that lurks in humanity.

Of the boys, only Simon took the presence of an unidentified creature on the mountain as a sign to be explored or a symbol to be considered, rather than as an indication of an animal-beast's presence. By courageously seeking out the figure on the mountain, Simon fulfills his destiny of revelation. Having confronted both the Lord of the Flies (the sow's head on a stick) and the so-called beast (the soldier's corpse), Simon understands the nature of the evil on the island. He doesn't get to share his revelation with the other boys because they are not ready to accept or understand it. They are living out the true beast's actions while they think of themselves as playacting the roles of painted savages, which is Jack's idea of fun — and the true beast's as well.

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