Aristotle proclaims, “Every man should be responsible to others, nor should anyone be allowed to do just as he pleases; for where absolute freedom is allowed there is nothing to restrain the evil which is inherent in every man,” the famous philosopher shared a similar understanding of man as Sir William Golding’s novel Lord of the Flies. The novel is about a group of British boys that crash land on an island due to a theoretical nuclear war. The boys on the island are no older than twelve and no younger than five. The novel revolves around Ralph, Jack, Piggy, Roger, and Simon. Through the novel, Golding portrays Simon as a Christ-like figure, whose death reveals man’s inherent evil.
In the novel, Golding depicts Simon as a Christ-like figure numerous times. For example, when Simon is walking in the forest he runs into a group of littluns, (the young boys on the island) he sees that they couldn’t get the fruit on the trees. Simon goes over to the trees, then “found for them the fruit they could not reach, pulled off the choicest from up in the foliage, passed them back down to the endless, outstretched hands… The littluns watched him [Simon] inscrutably over double handfuls of ripe fruit,” (Golding 56) Simon unlike most of the other boys stopped and helped the littluns. As well as helping them get fruit he makes sure they receive the best fruit and plenty of it. Very few people would care enough to do that, however since Simon is a Christ-like figure this is given. Later on, after Simon gives the littluns fruit he walks off into a clearing then “squatted down, parted the leaves, and looked into the clearing. Nothing moved but a pair of gaudy butterflies that danced round each other in the hot air. Holding his breath he cocked a critical ear at the sounds of the island. Evening was advancing toward the island; the sounds of the bright fantastic birds, the bee sounds, even the crying of the gulls that were returning to their roosts among the square rocks, were fainter.” (Golding 57) Like Jesus, Simon goes into the wilderness by himself to think throughout the novel. Simon and Jesus also perceive nature in the same beautifully poetic way, by describing nature as fantastic and gaudy. Lastly, when Simon comes down from the mountain and goes to the boys on the beach he “was crying out something about a dead man on a hill.” (Golding 152) Simon much like Jesus is sacrificed while he tries to explain that the “beast” is really a dead parachutist and what they actually fear is the evil within themselves. Both Simon and Jesus were sacrificed by their peers because their peers were blind to the sin and evil within man. Golding continues to portray Simon as a Christ-like figure even in his murder.
Golding unveils man’s inherent evil in Simon’s murder. For instance, when Simon goes into the circle of boys to explain that the “beast” isn’t real their “sticks fell and the mouth of the new circle crunched and screamed. The beast [Simon] was on its knees in the center its arms folded over its face,” (Golding 152) Filled with the adrenaline of the dance and thunder, the boys point their weapons at Simon even though he is clearly harmless on his knees while he tries to shield himself from their weapons. The boys blinded by the deceitful feeling of unity, they dehumanized Simon to convince themselves that what they were doing was okay because he is the “beast”. Then, as Simon tries to get away from the boys noticing they did not see him, they saw the beast. The boys “surged after it, [Simon] poured down the rock, leapt on the beast, screamed, struck, bit, tore. There were no words, and no movements but the tearing of teeth and claws,” (Golding 153) The boys hunted Simon down as he tries to escape. Golding describes the boys as savage animals that viciously mauled Simon to death. They throw rocks at him like the Jews tried to stone Jesus in John 8:59. Lastly, Golding displays how evil man is when “the heap broke up [The boys] and figures staggered away. Only the beast [Simon] lay still, a few yards from the sea. Even in the rain they could see how small a beast it was and already its blood was staining the sand” (Golding 153) Some may argue that Simon’s death was an accident but it is murder because the boys “staggered” away from Simon in what was most likely shock. They were in shock from the realization that they killed Simon and not the “beast”. Where they continue to show how evil man is when the boys don’t even bother to stay with Simon as he died and they didn't try to comfort him even if his murder was an accident. Golding shows man’s inherent evil in many ways through Simons murder.
In the novel, Golding foreshadows Simon’s death, uses the weather after his death as a symbolic message, and describes Simon as a Christ-like figure as he takes his final breaths. Earlier on in the novel when Simon is talking to Ralph and he says, “You’ll [Ralph] get back to where you came from,” (Golding 111) Simon knew he was going to die on the island much like how Jesus knew he was going to die in Matthew 20:28. They both knew they would because of someone that saw them as a threat. Later on, as Simon is dying “the clouds opened and let down the rain like a waterfall. The water bounded from the mountaintop, tore leaves and branches from the trees poured like a cold shower,” (Golding 153) Simon takes on the role of Jesus and dies for the boys' sins and evil like how Jesus died on the cross for all of man’s sins. The rain symbolizes their sin and evil being washed away. Lastly after all the boys left Simon to take his last breaths by himself and “The water rose farther and dressed Simon’s coarse hair with brightness. The line of his cheek silvered and the turn of his shoulder became sculptured marble… sun and moon… constellations,” (Golding 154) As Simon dies the water surrounds his head with brightness making him appear to have a halo just like Jesus does in many paintings of him and stained glass windows of many churches. Also “silver”, “marble”, “sun and moon”, and “constellations” are all things that associate with light and surrounded Simon as he died meaning he died in light but left behind darkness or evil much the same as Jesus when he was crucified. Therefore Golding eludes to Simon’s death, uses the weather for a symbolic purpose, and describes Simon as a Christ-like figure to show how the boys are evil like the men that killed Jesus.
All in all, Golding illustrates Simon as a Christ-like figure to explain how evil man is. As stated earlier, in the Lord of the Flies Simon goes through a few situations that are similar to Jesus’s experiences in the Bible. For example, Simon knows he is going to die on the island like how Jesus knew he was going to be crucified in Matthew 20:28. Another example of the similarities is when Simon gets stoned when the boys are murdering him as when the Jews tried to stone Jesus in John 8:59. Lastly, Simon like Jesus sacrifices himself for man’s sins and evil. Although Golding seems to believe man is inherently evil, the only solution to stop man’s inherent evil is through laws and civilization, that can keep man in check. It is what the boys in the Lord of the Flies did not have which would have stopped Simon’s murder. In conclusion, although man is inherently evil, civilization is the only thing that can keep man in check and stop tragedies like Simon’s murder from happening.