Simon has the power of "seeing" and understanding what the other boys cannot. When the boys worry about the beastie, it is Simon who suggests that the beast might be within them, and it is he who has the encounter with the "lord of the flies," which is so powerful that it makes him faint. He is killed as the other boys celebrate after a hunt. Because his name is associated with Christianity (Simon Peter, Christ's chief disciple), we can understand his death as a sacrifice resulting from the pagan sacrifice of the pig.
Simon's purpose was to show the others that the boys are innately evil, and that the beast is within themselves. This is because William Golding had no better way to present the idea of the boys themselves being the beast; introducing it indirectly was more effective than narrating it.
Golding uses Simon's conversation with "the beast" or the sow's head on a stake to explain fully the idea of the evil within the boys actually being the beast. Simon has been set up as the only boy that really understands what is happening and his vision is the one that finally brings home to him where the beast comes from. Golding also uses it to foreshadow Simon's beating and death at the hands of the boys which links permanently the idea of the beast with the behavior of the boys and their willingness to even purposely kill one another to try and fight off their fear of the beast or their fear of their own inner nature. Epilepsy was once thought of as a curse or as a condition that gave one prophetic power. Simon's disease separates him from the other boys and helps him represent the spiritual side of goodness and kindness. He stands in stark contrast to Jack, who symbolizes the evil side of mankind. Simon's violent death, which occurs when he tries to bring the truth about "the beast" to the rest the boys, adds to both the Biblical motifs of the story and the idea that mankind often rejects the truth about its own evil nature. "The beast" is, after all, only a human and Simon states asks early in the novel if "maybe the beast is us." This helps symbolize the darkness in the nature of mankind.
From what little we know of Simon's life, he was in touch with a deeper sense of things than most of the boys. He was able to care for the little kids and interact with the big kids but he never became a part of either group or tribe during their conflicts. He also was able to discern through his periods of introspection what the beast really was. His washing out to see frees him from the evil and darkness of the island, which is fitting since he was the only one to really figure it out. He is washed away from the evil just as he managed to stay clear of it while he was amidst the boys. This is an allegorical novel, and each of the characters and objects in it are symbolic. Simon represents the spirit present in each of us (in addition to Ralph who represents the physical, Piggy the intellectual, and Jack our inherent sin nature). Given that, it's not surprising to see Simon as a kind of Christ figure throughout the novel. His death, then, is a picture of Christ's death. He comes to them with good news but is killed before speaking it. His "broken body" is rolled out to sea, never to be seen (at least by them) again. He is not completely Christ-like though because Jesus was killed for spreading the good news. Simon was killed before he could tell the boys the good news. Most striking to me is the visual image of his body floating in the ocean: "The water ...dressed Simon's coarse hair with brightness. The line of his cheek silvered and the turn of his shoulder became sculpted marble." Just think how horrible it would have been had Golding not written this scene the way he did. Imagine if he had left mutilated Simon's body on the beach to rot. The effect would have been almost unbearable to read. After the graphic, gruesome scene of Simon's murder, Golding changes the pace from frenzied activity to...
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