In chapters 5-6 of "Lord of the Flies," what does Simon mean when he says the "beast" may be the boys themselves?
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The most mystical and mysterious figure among the boys, Simon alone has a vague sense of the moral and spiritual conflict that has gripped them during their stay on the island. In chapter five, he suggests that "maybe there is a beast" but, also, that "maybe it's only us." Simon understands that it is not an outside evil but rather the outgrowth of "mankind's essential illness" that is destroying the group from within.
In chapter 5 and 6 Simon realizes that "the beast" represents the manifestation of evil that is accumulating within them. Therefore they arn't scared of the beast, but themselves, and what they will become.
This is further proved by the Lord of the Flies on page 158 when it says: "Fancy thinking the beast was something you could hunt and kill! You knew didn't you? I'm part of you? Close, close, close! Im the reason why its a no go? Why things are what they are?"
Ever since the first reference in Chapter Two of William Golding’s The Lord of the Flies of a “beastie,” a “snake-thing. Ever so big,” the image of a mythical beast captivates and haunts the boys. In Chapter Five of Golding’s novel, Piggy, trying hard to engage the group in a meaningful discussion, states: "I know there isn't no beast—not with claws and all that, I mean—but I know there isn't no fear, either." As the boys continue to debate the possibility and nature of “the beast,” Simon observes that “maybe there is a beast.” As the boys continue shouting each other down, he then adds, “What I mean is. . . maybe it’s only us.” What both Piggy and Simon are suggesting is the beast is a mythical representation of the deterioration of any vestiges of civil society that may remain among the young cast-aways. The “beast,” in other words, represents their fears of the unknown and the devolution of humanity back towards less civil and infinitely more violent times. No beast actually exists, of course, and the closest thing the boys discover to an aberrational presence on the island is the corpse of a parachutist. To the extent that civilization is giving way to anarchy, the beast represents the darker nature of mankind.
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