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The dreaded beast of which the boys of Lord of the Flies are so afraid is not a living thing. Simon discovers that it is actually the body of an airman, whose parachute dangles from a rock on the mountain. Though the head of the airman is covered in flies, it is a harmless being; Simon frees it and the body eventually finds a last resting place in the sea. Nevertheless, the beast continues to cause fear among the boys, who do not know its true identity. They continue to offer pig's heads as an offering, and when Simon appears during the boys' circle dance, they descend upon him--thinking him the beast--hoping to put an end to their greatest fear. When they find that they have killed Simon and not the beast, their fears return. It is the beast which has caused the boys to cast away their civilized ways, descending into a savage, nearly pagan way of life.
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