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BOOK SUMMARY WITH NOTES
CHAPTER 9 - A View to a Death
Since there is a storm brewing on the island, the air grows still, sultry, and humid and the heat increases unbearably. Simon wakes up from his fainting and feels dull and tired. He starts walking wearily and reaches another part of the jungle where the trees have thinned out. Here he comes upon the humped figure of the dead airman. The wind raises the parachute like a balloon and then it collapses. Simon watches this action and soon realizes what has happened. He sees the rotting body of the poor airman and starts to vomit. Regaining control, he frees the lines of rope caught in the rocks so that the flapping stops and the parachute is freed. He heads down to the beach to give the boys the news about this harmless beast.
While Simon is making his discovery, Ralph and Piggy decide to join Jack's feast. They find all the boys around a fire laughing, singing and enjoying the roast pig. Jack is painted and garlanded like an idol and orders everyone about. He invites Ralph to join the tribe. When Ralph points out that he is chief , Jack challenges him. Jack points out that all the boys want to follow him and be savages. Fearing trouble, Piggy urges Ralph to leave, but he refuses.
The storm, which has been threatening all day, breaks opens with rain. In its midst, the hunters start their savage dance; even Ralph and Piggy are dancing on the fringes of the group. Roger again pretends to be the pig, and the others circle around him with their spears and clubs. The chanting begins and turns into frenzied screams as the excitement mounts to the point of insanity.
Simon crawls into the shadows to deliver his wonderful news to the savagely dancing boys. But the crazed boys mistake him for the beast. They start beating him with their spears and sticks ignoring Simon's attempted explanations and cries of pain and terror. He struggles to free himself, but falls over the rocks onto the beach. The boys follow and beat, tear, and claw at him until he dies. The storm suddenly intensifies, and it starts raining heavily. The frightened boys run for shelter, and Simon's body is washed out to sea. The dead airman's body, freed from the rocks, is also carried by the wind over the lagoon and into the sea.
Chapter 9 marks the turning point in the novel where the climax occurs with the killing of Simon. Golding marks the change with the weather, which has turned terrible. All day long the air is still and oppressive as a storm brews. The sultry stillness foreshadows that danger lies ahead. By the time the dancing starts at the feast, a gentle rain has begun to fall, but does nothing to dampen the savage excitement of the boys. Their rituals are savage, and the rain fails to purify. As soon as Simon is murdered, the storm breaks forth in all its fury, much like the storm that followed Christ's crucifixion on the cross. The deluge, however, cannot wash away the guilt of the boys; instead, it washes the bodies of Simon and the airman out to sea.
In the previous chapter Simon encounters one beast, the "Lord of the Flies". Simon, as the visionary and Christ-like figure, realizes that this beast is the real one, the devil personified. He also realizes that this beast dwells within all mankind. The knowledge is so overpowering and frightening that it makes him faint. When he awakens tired and confused, he realizes that he must further seek the truth, he must find the meaning of evil. He wanders further up the mountain, where he encounters the second beast. This is the dead airman caught in the entangled lines of his parachute. Simon's search has led him to the truth about the false beast. This creature, greatly feared by the boys, is really only "harmless and horrible". It is the first beast that must be dreaded, but sadly Jack and his savages have chosen to bless it and honor it.
Simon is eager to share the truth with the other boys, but they refuse to hear the truth. When he tries to explain his knowledge of the beast to the others, they take him for the beast and destroy him. With evil in their hearts, they silence the truth and sacrifice Simon to their savagery. Simon's death is Golding's comment on human nature and reveals the important Themes in the novel. Men fear the bearers of truth and will destroy them in order to continue their lives of lies. (Remember that Simon is developed as a symbol of Christ, who tried to deliver a message of truth and was savagely sacrificed for the evil of humanity.) External ugliness is not the real beast; it is the ugliness within, the evil in man's soul, that leads to calamity.
It is also important to note the change in Jack during the chapter. When he was humiliated in the last chapter, he almost begs some of the boys to follow him to the other side of the island. In a brief period of time, he has made himself into a dictatorial and demanding chief, who orders everyone around unmercifully. At his feast he sits painted and garlanded with his boys waiting on him like servants. He has set himself up as an idol. He does not really need a conch for his authority; he gains it through fear.