Simon (Lord of the Flies – William Golding)
A book about how a group of young boys would cope on a deserted island without parental supervision, Golding’s classic delves into the innate evil that lurks in everyone’s soul. Without societal authority, in this case parents, the young boys slowly digress into animalistic creatures with no sense of morality. The only characters who don’t allow themselves to become savages are Ralph, Piggy and Simon. It is the death of Simon which arguably begins all the children’s descent into savages as he is massacred by all the boys on the island who are too caught up in taking part in a tribal ‘hunt-dance’ to realise that the beast they are attacking is Simon. It is a tear-jerking moment as the only reason he got killed was for trying to tell the others that there is no beast. The only beast is savagery. In this sense, the ‘beast’ kills Simon before he can tell the others. As with all of the deaths in The Lord of the Flies, Simon’s death represents the loss of something, in his case it is truth, innocence, and common sense. His violent death is juxtaposed with the description of his body’s final resting place is depicted as beautiful; his body is gently picked up from the beach by the tide and calmly pulled out to sea with luminescent fish and plants lighting the area, adding to the horrific nature of the children actions compared to the nature of the island.
The Banderbear (Beyond the Deepwoods – Paul Stewart & Chris Riddell)
While making his way through the Deepwoods, Twig, the protagonist, encountered the banderbear; (an enormous, hairy, tusked bear-like creature). Although fearsome in appearance, the banderbear was shy, timid and friendly; after Twig helped him with his toothache by pulling the rotten tooth out, the two became good friends and travelled through the Deepwoods together. However, the friendship was not to last when a group of wig-wigs (small, orange, fluffy creatures which act like piranhas) decided to hunt both Twig and the unnamed banderbear. Knowing that the wig-wigs would eventually catch up with them, the banderbear decided to lift Twig into a nearby tree to put him out of the wig-wig’s reach. In doing so, the wig-wigs were able to catch up with him and devour him in front of Twig. His last words were ‘T-wuh-g…Fr-uh-nz’. Perhaps not as emotional as it may sound, the book was advertised for 8 – 12 years and in such has always remained locked in my mind as one of the most traumatic deaths I have read.
Arran Harper (The Enemy – Charlie Higson)
Set in a post-apocalyptic world where anyone over the age of 14 turn into cannibalistic zombies, it goes without saying that a lot of children die within the book. However, Arran’s death is the saddest and also the most surprising. Set out as the protagonist, it comes as a shock that he dies on the way to Buckingham Palace, early on in the book. He was the leader of the Waitrose survivors (children who have set up base inside a Waitrose) but early on gets bitten by a zombie that bared a striking resemblance to his mother at a swimming pool while serving as one of the scavenger party looking for food. However, the bite does not kill him but does begin to get infected, causing him to become ill and delirious. Nonetheless, the reader assumes that since he is the main character and it is still early in the book that he will survive or at least die near the end. His death comes when the children are ambushed by a group of zombies led by a smart zombie named St George at Camden. Having won the actual battle, the zombies retreat and Arran gives chase only to get shot with an arrow in the chest by another survivor; Sophie. In the confusion of the zombies running away in her direction, she mistook Arran as one. With such severe injuries, he dies there surrounded by the Waitrose crew, his last words are “I love you, Mom” reminding us that he was just a child.
The Unnamed Father (The Road – Cormac McCarthy)
Another post-apocalyptic novel, The Road follows an unnamed father and his son on their journey to head south to survive the oncoming winter. With the constant threat of attack from cannibals, exposure, and starvation the father is constantly trying to prepare his son for the time when he will no longer be there to protect him. The father’s death comes after their journey to the sea where he has been shot with an arrow and realises that he will die soon. In an attempt to reassure his son the father tells the boy that he can continue to speak with him through prayer after he is gone. With the boy pleading for his father not to leave him, it is hard not to get a lump in your throat. Additionally, with the son unsure where to go now that his father has passed away, we feel a responsibility for this child to remain safe. That feeling is left shaken when a man who claims he has been tracking the pair convinces the boy that he is one of the “good guys” and takes him under his protection. With a sense of uncertainty as to whether the boy is safe, the reader feels powerless and even more depressed.
Brom Holcombsson (Eragon – Christopher Paolini)
Ever since Eragon had to escape his home town of Carvahall with his dragon because the Evil lord Galbatorix felt threatened that he would overthrow him, Brom has been by his side, fighting and teaching him things such as the use of the magical powers bestowed upon a Dragon Rider and the art of swordsmanship, as well as teaching him how to read. When attempting to destroy the Ra’zac (an ancient race that feeds on humans as well as Galbatorix’s servants), the heroes are ambushed and attempt to escape. However, while escaping one of the Ra’zac threw a dagger at Eragon, but Brom moved into its path in order to save Eragon but leaves him mortally wounded. Before passing away, Brom confesses his past to Eragon claiming that he was once a dragon rider himself before his dragon was killed and he went into hiding as a storyteller in Carvahall. In order to give Brom a proper burial, Eragon created a tomb out of sandstone which Saphira turned to diamond with her magic in order to preserve his honour forever. Although sad, the death of Brom constantly hits home throughout the saga as more secrets that he kept are revealed such as Eragon’s parentage and the truth behind his sword Zar’roc.