Lord of the Flies: Simon and Sigmund by Claire Rosenfield

The taboo, according to Freud, is “a very primitive prohibition imposed from without (by an authority) and directed against the strongest desires of man.” In this new society it replaces the authority of the parents. Now every kill becomes a sexual act, is a metaphor for childhood sexuality. . . . Every subsequent “need for ritual” fulfills not only the desire for communication and a substitute security to replace that of civilization, but also a need to liberate the repressions of the past and also those imposed by Ralph. Indeed, the projection of those impulses that they cannot accept in themselves into a beast is the beginning of a new mythology. When the imaginary demons become defined by the rotting corpse and floating ‘chute on the mountain, which their terror distorts into a beast, Jack wants to track the creature down. After the next kill, the head of the pig is placed upon a stake to placate. Finally one of the children, Simon, after an epileptic fit, creeps out of the forest at twilight while the others are engaged in enthusiastic dancing following a hunt. Seized by the

rapture of reenactment or perhaps terrorized by fear and night into believing that this little creature is a beast, they circle Simon, pounce on him, bite and tear his body to death. He becomes not a substitute for beast, but beast itself; representation becomes absolute identification, “the mystic repetition of the initial event.” Simon’s mythic and psychological role has earlier been suggested. Undersized, subject to epileptic fits,1 bright-eyed, and introverted, he constantly creeps away from the others to meditate among the intricate vines of the forest.2 To him, as to the mystic, superior knowledge is given intuitively which he cannot communicate. When the first report of the beast-pilot
Historically, the epileptic or one who experiences seizures, has

been regarded as either a being possessed by demons, or as one who has association with divinity. Priests and prophets and saints have often been linked with religious trances. been regarded as prophecy or as divine insight.

The visions or

speech produced under the influence of seizures or trances have In some mystical way we sense that Simon envisions not only his

own death but also the destruction that is to follow. When they go out to search for the Beast, “Simon felt a flicker of incredulity . . . however Simon thought of the beast, there rose before his inward sight the picture of a human being at once heroic and sick.”

reaches camp, Simon, we are told, can picture only “a human at once heroic and sick.”3 During the day preceding his death, he walks vaguely away and stumbles on the pig’s head left in the sand in order to appease the demonic forces they imagine. Shaman-like,4 he holds a silent colloquy5 with it, a severed head covered with innumerable flies. It is itself the titled Lord of the Flies, a name applied to the biblical demon Beelzebub. From it he learns that it is the Beast, and the Beast cannot be hunted because it is within. Simon feels the advent of one of his fits and imagines the head expanding, an anticipation or

intuition of the discovery of the pilot’s corpse. Suddenly Golding employs a startling image, “Simon was inside the mouth. He fell down and lost consciousness.” Literally, this image presents the hallucination of a sensitive child about to lose control of his rational facilities. Metaphorically, it suggests the ritual quest in which the hero is swallowed by a serpent or dragon or beast whose belly is the underworld, undergoes a symbolic death in order to gain the elixir to revitalize his stricken society, and returns with his knowledge to the timed world as a redeemer. Psychologically, this narrative pattern is a figure of speech connoting the annihilation of the ego,6 an internal journey necessary for self-understanding, a return to the timelessness of the unconsciousness. When Simon wakes, he realizes that he must confront the beast on the mountain because “what else is there to do?” He is relieved of “that dreadful feeling of the pressure of personality” which had oppressed him earlier. When he discovers the hanging corpse, he first frees it in compassion although it is rotting and surrounded by flies, and then staggers

This is an apt description of the human soul as portrayed

in the entire book, and in the words of Simon, “maybe it’s only us.” But even Piggy misses the point and responds to Simon with derision: “Nuts!” he says. This clearly demonstrates Piggy’s most serious flaw: he can only deal with facts; he has none of the imaginative insight that Simon has.

A shaman is a member of certain tribal societies who acts

as a medium between the visible world and an invisible spirit world and practises magic or sorcery for healing, divination, and control over natural events.


Ego, according to Freud, is that part of the psyche that is

A colloquy is a conversation, especially a formal one. It

conscious, most directly controls thought and behaviour, and is most aware of external reality.

also means “a written dialogue.”

unevenly down to report to the others.7 Redeemer and scapegoat, he becomes the victim of the group he seeks to enlighten. In death--before he is pulled into the sea--his head is surrounded by flies in an ironic parody of the halo of saints and gods.8 ***** Elegy by Leonard Cohen Do not look for him In brittle mountain streams: They are too cold for any god; And do not examine the angry rivers For shreds of his soft body Or turn the shore stones for his blood; But in the warm salt ocean He is descending through cliffs Of slow green water And the hovering coloured fish

Kiss his snow-bruised body And build their secret nests In his fluttering winding-sheet. Lord of the Flies: Golding comments about Simon In an essay he called “Fable,” William Golding has written: For reasons it is not necessary to specify, I included a Christ-figure in my fable. This is the little boy Simon, solitary, stammering, a lover of mankind, a visionary, who reaches commonsense attitudes not by reason but by intuition. Of all the boys, he is the only one who feels the need to be alone and goes every now and then into the bushes. Since this book is one that is highly and diversely explicable, you would not believe the various interpretations that have been given of Simon’s going into the bushes. But go he does and prays, as the child Jean Vianney9 would go, and some other saints—though not

“The beast was harmless and horrible; and the news must In his martyrdom Simon meets the fate of all saints: the

reach the others as soon as possible.”

truth he brings would set us free, but we are, by nature, incapable of perceiving that truth.

SAINT JOHN MARY VIANNEY: Farm hand who in his youth taught other children their prayers and catechism. Priest at age 30, though it took several years study as he was not a very good student, and his Latin was terrible. Assigned to the parish of Ars, a tiny village near Lyons, which suffered from very lax attendance; he began visiting his parishioners, especially the sick and poor. Spent days in prayer, doing penance for his parishioners. Gifted with discernment of spirits, prophecy, hidden knowledge. Tormented by evil spirits, especially when he tried to get his 2-3 hours of sleep each night. Thousands came to hear him preach, and to make their reconciliation because of his reputation with penitents. Spent 40 years as the parish priest. Born 1786 at

many. He is really turning part of the jungle into a church, not a physical one, perhaps, but a spiritual one. Here there is a scene, when civilisation has already begun to break down under the combined pressures of boynature and the thing still ducking and bowing on the mountain top, when the hunters bring before him, without knowing he is there, their false god, the pig’s head on a stick. It was at this point of imaginative concentration that the pig’s head knew Simon was there. In fact, the pig’s head delivered something very like a sermon to the boy; the pig’s head spoke. I know because I heard it.

Dardilly, Lyons, France Died 4 August 1859