In Chapter 7 of Lord of the Flies, why do the boys run from the dead paratrooper?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chapter 7, the boys search the island for the beast, and Jack challenges Ralph to continue hunting the beast when darkness falls. Ralph reluctantly agrees to climb the mountain in the dark with Jack and Roger in order to find the beast. As the boys reach the summit of the mountain, Jack volunteers to climb to the top while Ralph and Roger stay back. Jack returns quickly to the boys and claims that he saw the beast. Jack tells Ralph, "I saw a thing bulge on the mountain" (Golding 174). Ralph is curious and decides to creep to the top of the mountain with Jack and Roger to see for himself. When they reach the summit, they see something that resembles a great ape with its head hanging in between its knees. When the wind blows, the figure's head lifts up and reveals its face. The boys are not able to distinguish the identity of the figure they are staring at and assume that it is the beast. The mysterious, grotesque creature that is moving as the wind blows terrifies the boys, who quickly run down the mountain. Essentially, Ralph, Jack, and Roger run from the dead paratrooper because they think that the corpse is the beast.

ms-mcgregor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The dead pilot is still attached to his parachute which billows in the wind and looks other worldly. It appears to be "bulging" and then the wind blows and he appears to be looking at them with his "ruin of a face". The boys have been so affected by tales of the "beast" that they become terribly frightened and don't take the time to really look at the body. So, they never recognize its human form. They simply run down the mountain so fast that they even leave their weapons behind. This is an indication of the immaturity of the boys and their lack of rational thought in a moment of so-called crisis. Their decision to run instead of looking closely at the figure will have severe consequences for all the boys.