Lord of the Flies – Simon hears the pig’s head talk

Elsewhere, Emma-Louise said: “Sir, you still haven’t answered my question. I got completly lost at the part of Lord of the Flies when Simon starts talking to a giant fly. Is it a figment or not? =-S”

Sorry Emma, your posting was tucked away at the bottom of this blog, so I must admit I forgot about it. First of all, there’s no indication that Simon’s talking to a giant fly: it’s the pig’s head on a stick, also referred to as ‘Lord of the Flies’, and if I recall correctly Simon doesn’t say anything, it’s just the Lord of the Flies that talks to him.

As to whether it’s ‘a figment’ of Simon’s imagination or whatever, if there were a straightforward and unequivocal answer to that, it would be because Golding had chosen to make it clear. As he didn’t make that choice we have to live with the ambiguity, and consider its significance. I guess the main possibilities I can think of are:

  1. It is just a figment of Simon’s imagination: he is ‘thinking to himself’ imagining what ‘the lord of the flies’ might say.
  2. It is some kind of hallucination, perhaps brought on by something like an epileptic fit (remember that Simon is introduced as someone who ‘faints’ a lot).
  3. It is a supernatural event: some kind of being (the devil?) is speaking to Simon through the medium of the pig’s head.

I’m going to leave it there for now. All three of these are plausible, I think (and there may be other possibilities). Which you choose, and whether you choose, will depend to some degree on a range of factors such as the picture of Simon’s character you have built up from the story; the angle you take on the themes and significance of the novel, and so on.

Now: I’ll leave it to you (and that includes both Year 10 & 11) to pick up the discussion and take it further. Comments please…

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40 Responses to Lord of the Flies – Simon hears the pig’s head talk

  1. Luke says:

    I believe that simon was hallucinating from the pure horror and shcok from what he saw, not through a mental illness or stress e.t.c.

  2. Luke says:

    I believe that simon is seeing the pig’s head talk because of the shock from the horror he witnessed, not through stress or a mental illness

  3. Tom says:

    I agree with luke

  4. Samson says:

    Mr Heald,

    This is the first time I have managed to access this website, due to various reasons. Just to leave a comment on ‘LOF – simon/pig head talkin blog:- I think that due to a build up of anxeity of ‘the monster’ issues and the fact that the whole group of boys (not forgetting they are fairly young) are stranded on an island that Simon thinks the Pig’s head is talking. Also I agree with the above post from ‘Luke’ as it must have been a fairly big shock to him.

  5. Mr Heald says:

    Luke & Tom: What shock / horror are you referring to? Witnessing the pig being killed? Why do you think this would cause hallucinations?

    Samson: You refer to anxiety building from ‘the monster’ (probably better to stick with Golding’s word: ‘beast’), but doesn’t Golding make it clear that Simon doesn’t believe there is a beast?

  6. Samson says:

    Yes he does. However if Simon wasn’t scared of the ‘beast’ wouldn’t he have volunteered himself, at the times when the group was searching for the beast, such as when Sam and Eric saw the beast? Eventhough he does not need to prove himself, wouldnt he have volunteered? The qoute, ‘Simon allowed his pace to slacken until he was walking side by side with Ralph’. This extract is taken after the incident with the twins seeing the best, and shows me that Simon now is less confident and shows a liitle anxiety.

  7. Mr Heald says:

    Good to see you rising to the challenge, Samson!

    When Sam & Eric saw the beast, it was when they were on ‘fire-watch’, not searching for the beast. When the ‘biguns’ do go on their search after this, Simon joins them (even though Golding has made clear that he is in a ‘grey area’ between the obvious biguns and littluns), and heads off ahead of Ralph, indeed.

    Your reference to Simon dropping back to Ralph is exactly the kind of focussed reference to detail that scores highly in exam terms. However, do you still think your interpretation holds up fully when you look at the wider picture? Remember that Simon drops back after Golding has said that “however Simon thought of the beast, there rose before his inward sight the picture of a human at once heroic and sick”. Surely Golding clearly intends us to link this with our knowledge that what Sam and Eric saw was the dead parachutist, not a real beast. Simon doesn’t believe in an external beast. It seems to me that his dropping back is to be seen as an act of solidarity with Ralph, rather than as evidence of ‘anxiety.’ Later, after Ralph, Jack and the others also believe they have seen the beast, Simon suggests that they “climb the mountain”: an idea that horrifies the others, yet that is exactly what he sets out to do, on his own since nobody else will go with him. This hardly seems to be the action of someone who is scared of the beast.

    I look forward to your response, and hope that others may have ideas to contribute here too.

  8. Samson says:

    Thankyou for the response on my second post. Now seeing the other qoutes i understand what Golding meant by ‘Simon Dropped Back’. Ater writing my last post when reading the book furthermore i did find a couple of qoutations which showed me that Simon wasn’t scared of the beast (contradictory to my last post) it says in ‘Shadows and Tall Trees’, ‘Simon pushed his way to Ralph’s elbow. “Ill go if you want me, I dont mind honestly”.’ This is said after Ralph stated ‘Someones got to cross the Island and tell Piggy we’ll be back after dark.’
    Also I found a line in ‘Beast from Air’ After the twins see the dead parchutist; ‘Simon walking in front of Ralph, felt a flicker of increduality’. Which when I looked in a dictionary said, could mean an element of disbelief.

    May I also ask, In chapter ‘Beast from Air’ when Simon bashes into a tree, what could be a reason for this? Further on also (Page 130 chapter Beast from air)When Simon tells the rest of the ‘biguns’ that he does not beleive in the beast, why would he say this ‘confusedly’? Does this statment mean he is unsure of his statment because it comes across that way to me. Or is Golding referring to passage prior to this?

    Thankyou again for the response – the blog is helping me look closer into the book!

  9. Jenny says:


    I found this interesting perception and good clarification on Spark Notes. it goes into detail about who (or what) the Lord of the Flies is and what he is saying to Simon.

  10. Jenny says:

    From evidence in the chapter “beast from air” I feel that it shows that Simon is a daydreamer who has bursts of life-like hallucinations. Whether or not the Lord of the Flies is one of his dreams, we don’t know, and we don’t know what Golding wanted us to think about this. However, there are also ideas in which Golding presents Simon as not being scared of the beast, and even to some extent disbelieving.So, his “hallucination” could be Simon’s mind toying with the ideas that the other boys have produced when they talk about the beast, and reasoning with them, creating his own image and perception of the Beast in the form of the Lord of the Flies.

  11. Mr Heald says:

    Thanks for the link in comment 9, Jenny. How did you come across that? I think the poster’s idea of the Lord of the Flies ‘promising to have fun’ with Simon misses the tone of the dialogue at that point.

    You could be on to something in comment 10, Jenny, but what evidence can you adduce to support your idea that the ‘hallucination’ is a kind of projection onto the pig’s head of the boys’ ideas about the beast?

    Don’t forget that searchable versions of the text in Word and PDF format are available on the Lord of the Flies page of this blog which might help in finding quotations.

  12. Tom says:

    I disagree with Jenny and still agree with Luke.

  13. Samson says:

    May I ask Tom why you diasagree with Jenny? I however dissagree as I would not (in my personal opinon) find Simon as a day dreamer. Although I will try and find something in the text to support weather I agree or disagree with this.

  14. Jenny says:

    The Lord of the Flies could also be because Simon was severely affected by the heat and could be delirious: “He shifted restlessly but there was no avoiding the sun. Presently he was thirsty, and then very thirsty.” As we know, dehydrated people can start to imagine things which aren’t really there and sub-conscious topics in Simon’s case – the Beast. I can’t find the quotation I was looking for at the moment, but I’ll post it when I find it.

  15. Samson says:

    To try and back Jenny’s point up; I found some evidence in chapter 1; when Simon is mentioned it says ‘Now that the pallor of his faint was over’. This could mean that he may have been in a day dream and therefore supporting Jenny’s answer. Also there is a section in ‘Gift for darkness’ where simon retreats to an area of fruit trees. And although he was thirsty he continues to sit there. This evidence I feel also proves Jenny’s point to some extent. These are the only extracts I have find so far on Jeneny’s post about Simon being a day dreamer. Howver I will continue to look.

  16. Jenny says:

    Thanks Samson!

  17. Samson says:

    Thats OK! It’s strange how we both put that only like a minute after each other – strange!!!!!!! Thanks Jenny also – youve got me thinking there – it took me ages to find it; I also remembered this section!

  18. Lisa says:

    I agree with a number of these possibilites , however, the one I feel most strongly towards is that he is imagining what ‘the lord of the flies’ is saying. I think this because Simon is very quiet throughout the chapters and therefore I think he is thinking/daydreaming most of the time.In addition to what Jenny said about there being evidence in chapter ‘beast from air.’I feel that the passage from this chapter which supports the fact that Simon daydreams is the one on page 112 which begins,’Simon, walking infront of Ralph, felt a flicker of incredulity’…
    Although I think this, it may also be that he is hallucinating, as you said, he was introduced as someone who ‘faints’ alot.

  19. Mr Heald says:

    I think Jenny’s position was not quite that Simon’s a ‘daydreamer’, but that he is suffering delusions / hallucinations caused by heatstroke / dehydration (see here for example).

    Correct me if I’m wrong, Jenny!

    By the way, I started this post after reading comment 15, but Katie (my daughter) woke up, and she’s not very well so I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to comfort her for the past half-hour or so. Mrs Heald’s taken over now. During that time I see that Lisa’s contribution has been posted. Lisa, you’ve proposed a reasonable argument for the idea that Simon is deliberately imagining the Lord of the Flies(rather undergoing an involuntary hallucination) based on aspects of his earlier behaviour. However, nobody has yet taken up my challenge of exploring closely the evidence of the actual description of Simon’s ‘interaction’ with the Lord of the Flies.

    What do you make of this exchange, for example?
    “There isn’t anyone to help you. Only me. And I’m the Beast.”
    Simon’s mouth labored, brought forth audible words.
    “Pig’s head on a stick.”
    “Fancy thinking the Beast was something you could hunt and kill!” said the head. For a moment or two the forest and all the other dimly appreciated places echoed with the parody of laughter. “You knew, didn’t you? I’m part of you? Close, close, close! I’m the reason why it’s no go? Why things are what they are?”

  20. Lauren says:

    i have put my opinion on the blog on sparknotes, http://mb.sparknotes.com/mb.epl?b=451&m=1237335&t=349320
    like i said on there, i think it could be because Simon has an illness. It could be sunstroke which is causing him to hallucinate.

  21. Emma-Louise says:

    I loved that sentence. “Fancy thinking the beast was something you could hunt and kill!” It sent shivers down my spine.
    The main reason I liked this was because of it’s meaning. The pig’s head is saying that the beast wasn’t a physical being, but that it had been brought about some other way. I think that the beast was created through fear that had been planted in the boys’ heads. That because they believed that it was there they over interpreted every little thing that may or may not have been the beast. This line reveals shock and horror within the reader as they learn that not all is as it seems on the island.
    One of the times that they think they see the beast is when Simon is killed. They see something moving and then just because someone screams out that it’s the beast everyone immediately goes in for the kill. It turns out that it was Simon. 😦

  22. Lauren says:

    By the way I didn’t read the comment before mine so I didn’t copy sirs answer. I thought of it myself! 🙂

  23. Catherine Fletcher says:


    I can see where you are coming from and so feel that Simon is more hallucinating the beast rather than deliberately imagining it. The fact that it is “part of” him could maybe suggest that the beast is the fear that is implanted in every child’s mind when away from adults and alone. It also could also be the fact that at the beginning of the novel, upon the boys’ arrival, there was little impact made; ie they seemed unaffected. However now, they are seeing their time on the island as less of an adventure or holiday and more like a problem.


  24. Rhys says:

    I agree with alot of the comments on this site and several people have begin to touch on what I am about to say. Not much information regarding Simon has been given away; therefore, I feel that Golding has intentionally done this to make it unclear of what is the cause of the hallucinations. I therefore feel that the “Lord Of The Flies” is not intended on having a reason as to why it was apparently talking… I feel that Golding has left it open as to bring about a discussion, ironic because that is exactly what’s occurring.

  25. Jenny says:

    I think that Emma’s point is a very vaild one and it is certainly making me reconsider my points. I also feel that the Beast could be the boys’ minds possibly on the verge of insanity. The fact that the Beast is in their minds means that it is not possible for it to be hunted and killed. When they kill Simon, they do mistake him for the Beast because someone says it it. The “Beast” that is in their minds is a beast because it is turning them into savages who are killing people – just like a real beast.

    “You knew, didn’t you? I’m part of you? Close, close, close! I’m the reason why it’s no go? Why things are what they are?” Simon could be the first to realise that the beast isn’t a physical being but something that is possessing the boys’ minds, and making them try to injure and kill others like a beast in their minds…

  26. Lauren says:

    Yes Rhys I agree, I think this book is a great book to have a disscusion about. There are so many aspects of this book that you can talk about. Such as this one we are disscusing.

  27. Jenny says:

    Sorry for my last comment – some of it didn’t make sense and I repeated myself! 🙂

  28. Joe Martin says:

    My favourite character is Jack because he controls everyone, makes orders and wants to get of the island. Although he later becomes a savage i find it funny when he mocks Piggy.

  29. Tom says:

    Jenny i think that you are correct with your comment and that the beast is in their !MINDS! and controlling them in a way. Building on Jenny’s comment, I believe that the beast, instead of a supernatural figure possesing the boys, is instead a mind set and the way some of the boys boys think and act. I think it is another name for the savages the boys are becoming.

  30. Lauren and Jenny says:

    Cummon guys seriously! What do you think about Simon talking to pigs heads? and what does everyone think about Piggy? 🙂

  31. king manu 3rd says:

    i also think that the beast is imagenary charicter created by the boys metal unhealthyness. the beast does not exsist but because the boys believe it exists then in thier mind the beast is real.

  32. Lauren and Jenny says:

    Yes Manu! I totally agree because the boys think the beast is real they get scared. 🙂

  33. Lauren says:

    Fanks Manu luv u 2

  34. king manu 3rd says:

    i like piggy lauren i think hes just missunderstood. i reckon tht pigy si the smartest out of all of the boys. e.g he sugested moving the fire! aaaaaaaaaah clever pigg boy

  35. Catherine Mc says:


    Mr Heald, here is my long-a-waited contribution…

  36. Lauren says:

    I like piggy to, because he is the one that helps starts the fires and without him there would be no fire to give them help to get off the island. And Simon is talking to pigs heads in his imagination, he is ill!!!!!:)

  37. freddie gallucci says:

    having just found this im going to submitt the same comment i submitted on the other one of these……..

  38. Jenny says:

    Adding to Tom’s, we know that what the boys think is a beast isn’t really one because Golding tells us so. This makes us wonder about Simon’s experience and if it really happened. The fact that there isn’t a “Beast” as such adds more to the affect that it is in the boys’ minds, which is turning them to savagery. They feel unsettled and on the guard to kill the beast so when they mistake Simon, they kill him instead.

  39. Rhys says:

    Lauren do not “hush”! I like your opinions… ignor Manu the king 🙂 Thanks for the comment. Toms comment (34) i believe is extremely relivent as it is different from alot of the previous points made. I think that we should continue in Toms footsteps by considering the meaning behind the ‘Lord of the flies’ speaking rather than trying to explain why Simon can hear it.

  40. Samson says:

    May I just say to you all, Thanks!!!! All points contributed and have been a genuine help. May I just highlight a two comments which appealed to me: (**COMMENT 35 – Cat Mc**) (**COMMENT 19 – Tom G**) I beleive both these comments highlight some aspects of the discussion that some people havent managed to yet, eventhough every post has been helpful!!!! – WELL DONE! Thankyou all!!

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