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'Maybe,' he said hesitantly, 'maybe there is a beast.'
The assembly cried out savagely and Ralph stood up in amazement.
'You, Simon? You believe in this?'
'I don't know,' said Simon. His heartbeats were choking
him. 'But ... .'
The assembly in this chapter is not an easy one to attend it seems - there are lots of theories and stories about the beast, and the littluns' fear is catchign to the biggies (Percival Wemys Madison makes a notably hysterical witness to the beast's presence). Simon - shy, withdrawn - has hit upon the true beast: that the dark side of human nature is all there is to be feared on the island. But he can't express it.
'What I mean is ... maybe it's only us.' 'Nuts!' Simon became inarticulate in his effort to express mankind's essential illness. Inspiration came to him.
'What's the dirtiest thing there is?'
What's interesting too is the way he tries to describe it - the very worst thing in the world: the darkness, the nastiness of humans. The essential illness of mankind. But Jack, of course, drops a swear word in - in answer to this question of Simon's - and ruins his chances.
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