The so-called beast in Lord of the Flies begins as a figment of the litlluns’ imagination, stoked by the natural sounds they hear in the jungle at night. As the novel progresses, most of the boys become more convinced that the beast is real. Ralph and Piggy notably dissent, and Simon understands that their own fantasies and anxieties have created the beast. When he later succumbs to its power, his action foreshadows the group’s collective move away from sanity.
The actual existence of the beast becomes increasingly immaterial to its influence on the group and on the boys who wish to control it. Ralph’s logical approach is not conducive to managing this kind of internalized terror, and Simon’s scornful dismissal makes him even more unpopular. Jack, in contrast, fully appreciates how to take advantage of the boys’ fear: he proposes a course of action, with himself as leader. Both the strong collective belief and the idea of a common enemy work to his advantage. He not only stirs the boys into a frenzy, but convinces them that aggression is the best approach. Belief in a threatening enemy that they can defeat by banding together to pursue it gives the boys a sense of purpose. While their strong belief system helps advance Jack’s goals, his ability to control them also stems from his insights into, and manipulation of, human nature.