Lord of the Flies

What are Piggy's and Ralph's reactions to the faith of Simon?

Chapter 10 The Shell and the Glasses

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In Chapter Ten, Simon has already been murdered, and as the chaos surrounding Simon's death calms down, Golding focuses on the horror Piggy and Ralph feel about their involvement in the murder. The two boys attempt to justify their role in Simon's death with the ideas that they did not know that it was Simon until it was too late, they were not among the inner circle of boys beating him to death, and they operated on instinct rather than on malice. Still, the involvement of Piggy and Ralph makes clear that even these two, the paragons of rationality and maturity among the children on the island, are susceptible to the same forces that motivate Jack and his hunters. Golding obscures the once-clear dichotomy between the "good" Ralph and the "evil" Jack, demonstrating that the compulsion towards violence and destruction is present inside all individuals. The reverse, a "good" Jack, is rarely in evidence. The implication of Ralph's and Piggy's brief but tragic participation in the brutal activities of Jack's tribe is that the natural state of humanity is neither good nor evil but mixed. Social order and rules, with conscience and reason helping out only on occasion, are what constrain and limit the "evil" impulses that exist inside us all.

Indeed, Golding does present one major qualification that distinguishes Ralph and Piggy from Jack. Ralph and Piggy still possess a moral sensibility. They realize that their actions are wrong and accordingly struggle to find some justification for their parts in the murder. They are ashamed of the murder, unlike the other boys, who show no qualms about what they have done. Even if Ralph and Piggy present unsuccessful rationalizations, the fact that they need to find some reason for their behavior shows that they have an understanding of moral principles and retain an appreciation for them. Golding thus suggests that while evil may be present inside all of us, the strength of conscience and reason can positively move one's morals, for some more than for others.