How do the characters in Golding's Lord of the Flies use the idea of the beast differently?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Upon hearing about the existence of a "beastie," Ralph immediately tries to dismiss the thought in order to maintain control of the group. Ralph understands that fear can make the boys act irrationally and distract them from accomplishing the necessary tasks on the island to survive and possibly be rescued. Ralph attempts to convince the littluns that there is no "beast" so that they will be able to sleep peacefully and not live in fear. However, the littluns continue to fear the "beast" despite the other older boys' insistence that it does not exist. Piggy attempts to solve the issue about the beast pragmatically and states that the only thing to fear is people. Jack initially dismisses the existence of the "beast," but after he usurps Ralph's position as leader, he manipulates the boys' fear of the "beast" to his advantage. He begins to propagate the idea that the "beast" does exist by telling his hunters to leave a severed pig's head as a sacrifice. Jack also tells his boys that he will protect them from the "beast," which only increases his power over the boys. After the boys kill Simon, who they mistake as the "beast," Jack tells them that the "beast" can shape shift so that he can continue to manipulate their fears. Only Simon understands the true nature of the "beast." Simon fails at his attempt to explain that the "beast" is the inherent evil present in each individual. After Simon sees the corpse of the paratrooper, he immediately runs to tell the boys. Simon simply wishes to share the truth with the boys and does not try to manipulate their fears like Jack.

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Lord of the Flies

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