Lord of the Flies

Simon talks to LOTF

What does this scene foreshadow?



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The scene where Simon confronts the pig's head, which he calls the Lord of the Flies, remains the most debated episode among critics of the novel. Many critics have noted that the scene resembles the New Testament's telling of Jesus' confrontation with Satan during his forty days in the wilderness. Simon, a naturally moral, selfless character, does seem to be a Christ-figure who, in his knowledge of the true nature of the beast, is the sole bearer of truth at this point in the novel. In this scene with the pig's head, represented as evil, he meets and struggles against his antithesis. His eventual sacrifice, again an allusion to the crucifixion of Jesus, will mark the triumph of evil over good on the island.

A close reading of Simon's interaction with the pig's head can yield additional interpretations. In ways that complicate the biblical allegory in this scene, Golding also represents the Lord of the Flies in this chapter as the symbol of the boys' descent from civilized behavior to inhuman savagery. In this framework, the pig's head serves as a corrective for Simon's naive view of nature as a peaceful force. For Simon, the pig's head is a revelation (his final one) that alerts him to the fact that while nature is beautiful and fascinating, it is also brutal and indifferent. In previous chapters, Golding linked Simon to a vision of nature that was abundant, beautiful, and Edenic. The Lord of the Flies represents a different kind of nature, a hellish one, not one of paradise. Seen through Simon's perspective, the Lord of the Flies is a Hobbesian reminder that human life in the most basic state of nature is in fact nasty, brutish, short, and worse. In keeping with Golding's characterization of Simon as spiritual, the pig's head has deep religious connotations: the phrase "lord of the flies" is a translation of the Hebrew word Ba'alzevuv, or its Greek equivalent Beelzebub. The pig's head is thus a symbol of Satan, but, as it reminds Simon, this devil is not an external force. Rather, it is a more nefarious evil, one created by, and remaining within, the boys themselves.