Analyse William Golding’s choice of language during and after the killing of Simon. Why does the language use change?
“Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood!” This is the chant that begins the section, increased in its violence as it now says “kill the beast” representing the feelings of the boys. They want to destroy the beast but can’t find it as it is inside each of them. This causes them to get ever more angry and frenzied, starting a ritualistic “dance” with “the chant” beating “like a steady pulse”. This is reminiscent of Simon’s experience earlier when a “pulse started to throb in his temple”, just before he went into a fit. This suggests that the boys are also going into a trance or fit, but a much more dangerous one, unaware of their actions. They lose their individuality and start “the throb and stamp of a single organism”, again with the throbbing and stamping inducing images of a trance-like ritual.
Also the symbolisms of circles and the weather are repeated.
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The circle now “yawns emptily” waiting to catch someone inside. The weather is threatening, “Thunder boomed…the dark sky was shattered…scar…blow of a gigantic whip”. This is a great contrast to the clear skies earlier in the book that symbolised peace. Now they begin to become terrified by the weather and the trance and out of this terror “rose another desire, thick, urgent, blind”. This is the frantic, unthinking desire of bloodlust.
The boys don’t want to think about what they are doing, Simon is called “Him!” and “the beast” and “the thing”. This is because the boys are trying to dehumanize him in their great desire to kill something that could be the beast. However, Golding calls Simon by name just once, the effect being that we see this as the mindset of the boys.
The imagery when Simon is finally murdered is very vivid, with the mouth comparison drawn again, “The mouth of the circle crunched and screamed”. This gives the impression of someone being eaten alive.
Simon is shown to be helpless. He doesn’t even try to defend himself; he just “struggles free”. He is completely innocent and Christ-like comparisons are drawn by these things and also because he is still trying to save them from themselves as he “was crying out against the abominable noise something about a beast on a hill.”
When he falls down onto the sand he is leapt upon. “There were no words and no movements but the tearing of teeth and claws”. The use of “claws” draws comparisons with beasts and shows the boys’ savagery and animalistic actions. There are no words, symbolizing the complete breakdown of civilization and communication. Nobody is exempt from this original sin and even Piggy joins in. They completely destroy Simon, taking pleasure in the mutilation of his body.
After Simon’s death “the clouds opened” as if they are taking him up to heaven. The rain acts as a “cold shower” and breaks up the savages. Golding reminds us of the age and vulnerability of these boys and Simon especially, “they could see how small a beast it was and already its blood was staining the sand.”
A great wind blows the parachutist off the mountain in a tribute to Simon. He has removed the beast from the island, though he had to die to do it. We could look deeper and say that this shows he has only removed the symbol or personification of the beast. The parachutist was never the beast, nor was Simon, but they were used as the personification of the evil which still remains inside all of the boys.
After the rain ends, the mood completely changes, from frantic and urgent to calm and serene. The “incredible lamps of stars” “cool…clear air” make Simon’s death seem peaceful, natural and spiritual. The images are of “silver” “phosphoresce” “pearls” “clear water…clear sky” “strange moonbeam bodied creatures”. These all give a heavenly, spiritual and peaceful feel as does the alliteration of ‘s’ sounds; “Softly surrounded by a fringe of inquisitive creatures, itself a silver shape beneath the steadfast constellations.” This makes Simon’s death seem beautiful and the violence of the reality unimaginable.
Golding uses the violent, urgent, frenzied language during Simon’s death to show the feeling surrounding it. He uses the calm, peaceful and spiritual language afterwards, when his body is carried away as a reminder as to the kind of person Simon was and how different he was to the others.