A literary masterpiece that has stood the test of time and sits on millions of students’ desks is William Golding’s novel, Lord of the Flies. In this heart-wrenching, beautiful, and terrifying masterpiece, Golding constructs a story that is spectacularly horrifying.
On a remote island, young Ralph emerges from the ruins of an aircraft that carried dozens of young boys from the war in England. Ralph is joined by the stout, glasses-wearing, and asthmatic Piggy. As the story steadily progresses, they discover a conch shell and use it as a calling device to gather the scattered boys and to bring order and sanity to the shocked crew. However, their attempt at peaceful reorganization transforms into the commencement of a battle between the pretentious Jack Merridew and Ralph. Throughout the story, the two boys argue their conflicting causes. The novel ends with the island burning and an officer rescuing the distraught children.
However, one character graces the scene that is less recognized than Ralph, Piggy, and Jack. This little boy is named Simon. Simon is a gentle boy who struggles with epilepsy, collapsing several times throughout the story. In that aspect, he is weak, but his wisdom outweighs his physical deficiencies. His insights are the only pure and accurate ones made throughout their time spent on the island. He is the sole vessel of genuine goodness and hope.
Each of the boys views their current situation on the island uniquely, some more optimistic than the others. The most beneficial and inspirational viewpoint is that of Simon’s, but that is only observable to analyzing a few of the others, most notably, Jack and Ralph’s.
Jack recognizes the island as a place to conquer and ravage, while Ralph views it as a place to escape at all costs. Jack is impractical as he organizes a hunting squad whose main goal is to kill pigs for meat and to convert all the boys into savage island men. Jack wants to have fun and destroy whatever lies in his path. Ralph, on the other hand, focuses on maintaining a signal fire on the mountain, ensuring that the island remains clean and that they are judicious in their intake of food and water. Both of them are dedicated to their island goals to the point where they neglect themselves and others. Their conflicts climax in two deaths and a wildfire.
The ways in which they each viewed the situation would have succeeded if they had collaborated because together, making the best of the island and keeping rescue a priority is reasonable, optimistic, and constructive. Out of all the characters, Simon meets those criteria more than anyone.
Simon, unlike anyone, notices the beauty on the island. He takes refuge in the middle of the greenery near the candle bud flowers. He finds exceptional beauty in something as simple as candle bud flowers. He takes comfort in the beauty the island has to offer. He seeks to embrace it – to make the best out of his situation. Yet, in that, he is also aware of the island’s shortcomings and sides with Ralph in focusing on escape. However, his ability to stand awestruck in the presence of something so small and seemingly insignificant such as the candle buds reveals a quintessential quality of his personality – the optimism to see the beauty in the face of ugly circumstance.
What emphasizes Simon’s character even further is Jack and Ralph’s reaction to the candle buds. Ralph is aware of the buds’ existence but fails to acknowledge them. To him, they were simply a part of the island he desired to escape. Jack, on the other hand, notices them and “slashed at one with his knife.” Jack employs actions that reflect his motives to destroy whatever is in his path, even if the object is beautiful.
How each of the three boys regards the candle buds teaches us how we should react to the islands of our lives. Like Jack, do we seek to lose ourselves to restlessness, slashing the light away, and embracing the darkness? Do we act like Ralph, solely focusing on escaping the unfortunate circumstance and ignoring the abounding hope or avoiding it altogether? Or, do we choose to see things through Simon’s eyes, seeking out the iota of beauty amidst the abounding discomfort of the situation?
Seeing surroundings through Simon’s eyes does not come along naturally for everybody. During crashes on difficult islands of life, faith must be the anchor we latch on to. With that faith, we stare into the forest and perceive the small glints of hope and beauty amidst the darkness. To catch the glittering candle buds and find refuge, as Simon did, in the hope loveliness has to offer. That even though the rest of the island is overwhelmed with havoc, the possibility of rescue stands, but through the work and the wait, rest, peace, and faith are attainable by being still in the quiet of the candle buds.
A candle bud flower
Featured image illustrated by Rachel Rodriguez