Simon as Silent Prophet of Lord Of The Flies
The role of the prophet changes with the society in which he lives. In Modern America, a prophet is a visionary, telling his people what they can become; in Biblical times, a prophet was the voice of God, telling his people what they had to become to fulfill their covenant with God. In William Golding's Lord of the Flies, though, the prophet told his people nothing; he realized what they had already become, and he dared not tell them because he knew they would turn against him. Simon lived in knowledge and fear because his society denied the role of the prophet, and he did not fight it because he wanted so much to be part of that society.
The basic premise of Lord of the Flies is that humans naturally live in savagery and ignorance, without any idea of how to live together. It is the story of boys stranded on an island who must develop a government to survive. Every detail of the story holds symbolism. For example, each character represents an aspect of society : those who represent human nature survive, and those who are self-actualized--the scientists, the religious, the leaders--all die. The most terrifying death is that of Simon, who symbolizes the eyes of a blindfolded and stumbling people. He alone saw that the jungle, which represented freedom and the lack of civilization, was not to be feared but to be understood; he alone knew that the mythical Beast of the island, feared by all the boys, was in fact their own inherent savagery. (The title, Lord of the Flies, is in fact a translation of "Beelzebub," a name of the devil in the Judeo-Christian tradition).
In a vision, the Beast told Simon: "Fancy thinking the Beast was something you could hunt and kill! . . . You knew, didn't you? I'm part of all of you . . . Get back to the others and we'll forget the whole thing" (143). Simon, though he did not tell the other boys of his vision, was incapable of forgetting. He was the observant character, the quiet philosopher. He was often alone, sometimes by his own choice, and he liked to wander into the peaceful jungle. He sincerely cared about the other boys, sometimes helping the young ones to fetch fruit, yet "Simon turned away from them and went where the just perceptible path led him. Soon high jungle closed in" (56). He loved solitude and yet felt loneliness; he was alien to the other boys. The boys did not think anyone would be stupid enough to go into the jungle by night: "The assembly grinned at the thought of going out into the darkness. Then Simon stood up and Ralph looked at him in astonishment" (85). Many of the boys even thought he was "batty" because he left the group to spend time alone. He did not fear the jungle, and he did not fear the Beast. "'Maybe,' he said hesitantly, 'maybe there is a beast. . . . maybe it's only us'" (89).
The Beast takes many forms in the boys' imaginations; once, they saw a strange shape moving at the top of a...