How do you explain how the boys could attack Simon for the beast in Lord of the Flies?

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Kristen Lentz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Simon's death scene in the chapter "A View to a Death" in Lord of the Flies comes across to the reader as one of the most agonizing moments in the entire novel.  How could a pack of boys all mistakenly attack one of their own and brutally beat him to death?  Golding uses this scene in the novel to address the danger that mob mentality poses, especially in conjunction with savagery or violence.  Fueled by their fears of the growing storm and the beast, the boys participate in Jack's dance, which whips them into a killing frenzy. 

When Simon does finally emerge from the dark shadows of the jungle, the boys strike out, supposing the intruder to be the beast; however, there is recognition among the boys that their violent lashing out took the life of their comrade.  Ralph acknowledges to Piggy the following morning that he knew the victim to be Simon; moreover, Samneric's awkward excuses about the feast lead the reader to infer that they too participated in the murder.  Ralph's recognition and remorse suggest that even though the boys may have recognized Simon after the beating began, they were too caught up in their own bloodlust and fervor to stop the murder.

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Lord of the Flies

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