This is a multi-faceted, complex, and incredibly fascinating topic. It is also one that I will not do justice to in this post. This post is about Lord of the Flies. This post is about my assigned character (Simon) in particular. Sorry if you saw the post title and are now disappointed.
Today (in English) we were discussing different characters within the book and how they view the Beast.
In chapter 5 ("Beast From Water"), the boys are battling the island (islands are often described as "popping up out of the water," and this particular island is described as a leviathan). Ralph calls a meeting to discuss how the boys aren't following through with their decisions. Jack is still as hunting-centric as ever.
Chapter 6 ("Beast From Air") begins with a dead parachutist descending from the sky. Simon's internal view of the beast is a human, even though he doesn't really believe in an actual beast.
One of our discussion questions was "Why doesn't Simon believe in the beast?"
The beast is a metaphor for our own inner darkness, and that of humanity. It's the savagery lurking below the surface (closer to it in some than others) in all of the boys, and indeed in all of us.
Simon is the boy who wanders around the forest late at night, surrounded by darkness.
I take this to mean that Simon has come to terms with the darkness and ergo the world. When we're little, we use a nightlight. When we're a bit older, we can sleep in our own rooms with no light, but we run to and from the bathroom as fast as possible- from one safe zone to the other. Only when we're very familiar with the darker side of our house can we comfortably and leisurely walk around without fear. Only when we understand the house can we do this. Only when we understand the world and ourselves may be be like Simon walking about the island in the dark without fear of the beast. He is the beast, in terms of what the littluns see wandering around as well as in a more metaphorical sense. But who says the monsters under the bed are mean?
We later moved on to discussing where various characters are on the maturity spectrum.
I (as well as most of the class) place Simon at the very top- emotional maturity- the most important, I think.
Ralph comes next, being the highest in social maturity. He has good leadership skills (knowing not to blow the conch when Piggy told him to), but not always the brains and, well, emotional maturity to make the best decisions.
Jack comes next. He's got the physical maturity and autonomy, but not the greatest social skills and he's not even emotionally mature enough to be consciously insecure in terms of the beast.
The rest of the boys (excluding Piggy) come below him- mostly because they're younger, and that they're scantly mentioned and therefore probably don't exceed any of the main characters in their maturity specializations.
Piggy comes at the bottom. He literally barely functions without the layers of rules and bureaucracy that modern society provides, always whining "but I've got the conch!" If he can't function as an independent person as opposed to an obediently working part of a greater whole (not bad-mouthing greater wholes- just saying that everyone should be able to function outside one, even if they prefer to be in one), then he gets to be on the bottom.
I like this topic of inner darkness very much. Expect more on it at some point.