Summary and Analysis
Furthermore, neither boy can communicate his perspective to the other, and neither considers the other's viewpoint. This lack of communication underlies innumerable conflicts, and the lack of understanding frequently has more to do with unwillingness on the listener's part than on the speaker's. Ralph and Simon's reactions to Jack's revelation about feeling hunted while hunting are true to form for both of them.
When Jack tries to convey his experience of the beast, he meets with resistance from Ralph. As the representative of reasonable society, Ralph is "incredulous and faintly indignant" that Jack could be granting any credit to the idea of a beast. Ralph is either unable or unwilling to acknowledge the existence of a beast. In contrast, the mystic visionary Simon is "intent" on understanding how Jack's feeling corresponds with the intuitive knowledge Simon has of human nature. Like the littluns, Jack's sense of the beast is formless and inarticulate; his domain is the emotions, which rule and fuel his animal nature. In truth, Jack is being hunted, in a sense, and both he and Simon, to varying degrees, recognize this. Ralph can't acknowledge this and continue to believe in what he believes in and relies on: the basic civility of man.
This chapter reveals Simon as the mystic. While Golding doesn't specify why Simon has a secret place or what he does there, clearly Simon feels the need to be sheltered from the other boys. "He's queer. He's funny," says Ralph of his only work partner, which is the reaction mystics typically provoke from mainstream society. Simon is different from the other boys not only due the physical frailty of fainting spells but also in his consistently expressed concern for the other more vulnerable boys. In the previous chapter, he sticks up for Piggy when Jack verbally attacks him for not gathering firewood, pointing out that the fire was started with Piggy's glasses. In this chapter, Simon takes the time to pluck from the trees the choice fruits that the littluns can't reach and passing them down "to the endless, outstretched hands," an almost saintly image.
Simon's role as a visionary is alluded to in this chapter not only by his hidden place of meditation but also by Golding's description of his eyes: "so bright they had deceived Ralph into thinking him delightfully gay and wicked." While Piggy has the glasses, another symbol of vision, Simon has the bright eyes that later in the novel see the truth about the beast.
To highlight Ralph's growing disenchantment with Jack and disillusionment with being a leader, Golding brings back together, in this chapter, the three boys who went exploring that first day. Caught up in the glamour of newness and adventure, the three seemed to become instant friends. By now, however, Ralph cannot overlook that Jack's priority on hunting is undermining his own efforts to create a home for the boys, that Simon is not the mischievous prankster Ralph perceived him to be, and that the boys in general quickly forget their promises to work toward a common goal when faced with the more immediate gratification of eating and playing. Ralph has come to the realization that "people were never quite what you thought they were."
batty [Slang] crazy or eccentric.
crackers [Slang, Chiefly Brit.] crazy; insane.
queer differing from what is usual or ordinary; odd; singular; strange.