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Lord Of The Flies: Two Sides Of Goodness - With A Free Essay Review



Lord of the Flies by William Golding depicts the descent of English schoolboys to savagery when they were marooned on an island. Despite most of the boys turned to savages, there are some who remained civilized and good in comparison. Simon and Ralph are two of the “good” boys. The two, however, had marked differences when it comes to their goodness: Simon was compassionate, almost Christ-like figure while Ralph was more of an everyday man who tries to stay civilized did his best to lead everyone back on track to being rescued.

Simon showed his kinship with the people around him through actions: he often “stoke Ralph's arm” in order to comfort him in situations such as where Ralph discovered the fire went out. He also cared for others' physical need as well, by giving Piggy a piece of meat when Jack denied him and by picking fruits for the littluns from the trees. Supporting others was also another trait of Simon's: when Ralph had doubts on whether he should continue to lead, Simon says “Go on being Chief”. He also made Ralph feel better when he started to feel homesick by saying “I think you'll get back all right.”

Aside from his compassionate side, Simon was Christ-like as he represented truth and holiness. Simon was the one to say “Maybe it's only us” to express that what the boys were fearing are within themselves and not a Beast. While others viewed hunting as a religion to protect them from the Beast as Jack manipulated their fear to control them, Simon spoke the truth that one may feel Golding revealed to us especially through Simon's hallucination when the Lord of the Flies spoke “Fancy thinking the Beast was something that you can hunt and kill!”. He was the one to find out about the parachutist and died as he tried to carry the message, just as Christ died while trying to spread the good news. Simon had his special spot on the island where it's surrounded by “candle-buds”, “honey-colored sunlight” and gives a sense of holiness as he meditates in nature just as Christ did.

Through out the story, Simon was more of a visionary of his group who was kind and remained isolated from the savagery occurring on the island and remained almost not tempted mentally by the Beast within until his hallucination, yet he stayed firm against it.

Ralph, on the other hand, had his struggle with savagery. Unlike Simon, he found hunting exciting. In Chapter Six, he fought to get closer to Robert in one of the pretend hunting games to get some of the “brown vulnerable flesh”. He joined in the mob during Simon's murder. But it was clear that he himself despised savageness. As he meditated about home, civilization, he noticed his current situation and “discovered with a little fall of the heart that these were the conditions he took as normal now and that he did not mind” and then realized that he should stick to his civilized part of himself. Ralph stayed as firm as he could while being confronted by Jack by refusing to join the hunters' tribe, but had to resort to being almost like an animal while he was hunted, “snarling” at Jack's choir boys. Ralph was more humane in the sense that he, like Golding wants to point out, exhibits the inner human flaws that everyone has.

Ralph takes on a leadership role while Simon was the wise adviser in the group of boys. Ralph was chief and he tried to stop the boys' descent into savagery. He was the one who scolded people when they got off their fire watch duty, in which he believes fire is the most important thing on the island and hunting should be placed in a lower priority. Ralph tried to preserve the civilized part of everyone by establishing rules and setting up tasks, giving speeches. He was good in the sense that he tried to keep the society they had established together from the attempts of destruction by Jack and constantly tried to safeguard everybody such as building shelters, making a signal fire, etc.

All in all, though Simon and Ralph were two of the “good” boys on the island, Simon stayed above the conflict of civilization vs savagery with profound insight into humanity. While Ralph struggled to conceal his savage inside and attempted to steer everyone in the right direction.

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ESSAY REVIEW

For the most part the essay gives us only a description, albeit a good one, of two characters in the novel. There are times, however, when you make more substantial, interpretive claims, claims that don't go without saying. To say, for instance, that Simon _represented_ truth and holiness (which does not necessarily make him Christ-like, though I understand that that is the traditional interpretation of Simon) is to make an interpretive claim. It would be a more interesting interpretive claim if you could explain what the value of having a representative of truth and holiness in the novel is. To demonstrate that he is specifically Christ-like you point to the fact that he dies while trying to deliver a message, and that he meditates in nature, but lots of people, I suppose, die while trying to deliver messages, and there is no biblical story that I am aware of that describes Jesus meditating in nature (but perhaps it is too long since I've read the biblical stories). Do we need to invoke the figure of Christ or Jesus to understand the character of Simon? To a certain degree, I think we do. I think, in other words that the traditional interpretation of Simon is correct; there are other parallels, many of which you don't identify. But there are also differences. Does Simon sacrifice himself for the sake of others? Is he killed for malicious reasons? Perhaps those are not important questions to ask. What might be important, however, would be to ask what role a Christ-like character such as Simon plays in establishing the meaning of the novel.

I suspect (and I suspect that you suspect this too!) that the way to go about answering that question would be to compare the different modes of "goodness." I think your essay hints at the value of such a comparison, but it doesn't quite ever get around to establishing that value; it doesn't quite get around, that is, to explaining what conclusion about the nature of society, or of civilization, or of humanity, or of goodness, the comparison might lead us to.

As far as I can tell (but it's a long age since I read Lord of the Flies) you do a pretty good job here of doing what you apparently set out to, which is to describe the different features of two ostensibly good characters in a novel. I don't know what assignment you are responding to, so perhaps you have done enough in doing that, but I would encourage you nonetheless to do more. It is interesting that a novel that in some way pits a form of good against a form of evil should have two characters representing different aspects of goodness. I think your essay would be more interesting if it reflected on why the novel does that. The closest you come to doing that is in the final paragraph, where you note that Simon stays above the conflict, while Ralph is in the midst of it, struggling, as you say, "to conceal his savage inside and attempt[ing] to steer everyone in the right direction." (I emend the tense of the verb because it is customary to use the present tense to speak of what happens in novels; it would take a long time to indicate every correction of this type needed, so I leave you to figure that out yourself!). In a sense, I would like your conclusion to be instead the beginning of an essay that explored what Golding seeks to achieve, or what he seeks to communicate about the nature of that conflict between civilization and savagery. Is there a sense in which Simon is a necessary part of the possible resolution of the conflict despite his staying, as you say, above it? Do the Ralphs of the world need Simons, or is the noble but all-too-human struggle of Ralph-like characters enough?

Best, EJ.
Submitted by: dreamyclouds
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