Compare and contrast Ralph and Simon. Both seem to be “good” characters. Is there a difference in their goodness?
Both Ralph and Simon are motivated toward goodness throughout the novel. Both boys work to establish and maintain order and harmony with the rest of the group and are kind and protective in their interactions with the littluns. However, as the novel progresses, we get the sense that Ralph’s and Simon’s motivations for doing good stem from different sources. Ralph behaves and acts according to moral guidelines, but this behavior and these guidelines seem learned rather than innate. Ralph seems to have darker instinctual urges beneath: like the other boys, he gets swept up by bloodlust during the hunt and the dance afterward. Simon, on the other hand, displays a goodness and kindness that do not seem to have been forced or imposed upon him by civilization. Instead, Simon’s goodness seems to be innate or to flow from his connection to nature. He lives in accordance with the moral regulations of civilization simply because he is temperamentally suited to them: he is kind, thoughtful, and helpful by nature. In the end, though Ralph is capable of leadership, we see that he shares the hidden instinct toward savagery and violence that Jack and his tribe embrace. Although Ralph does prove an effective leader, it is Simon who recognizes the truth that stands at the core of the novel—that the beast does not exist in tangible form on the island but rather exists as an impulse toward evil within each individual.
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