Two separate illustrations of an animal head and a fire on a mountain

Lord of the Flies

by William Golding
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In Chapter 6 of Lord Of The Flies, does Simon believe Samneric's story? How does he imagine the beast? How do you explain Simon's vision?

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Samneric , being so young and so terribly naive, have got it into their head that the dead parachutist is some dangerous beast lurking on the island. In their irrational fear, Samneric even imagines that the said beast clawed at Eric's face as it chased them. It didn't of course,...

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Samneric, being so young and so terribly naive, have got it into their head that the dead parachutist is some dangerous beast lurking on the island. In their irrational fear, Samneric even imagines that the said beast clawed at Eric's face as it chased them. It didn't of course, but then the mind plays tricks in the dark, especially when you're frightened. Jack's more than happy to believe Samneric's story; it's in own his interests to believe it, for if the boys are in a state of constant fear over a supposed beast on the island, they will be more likely to turn to him for protection.

But Simon, for one, is not convinced. If there really were a beast roaming around there'd be visible signs like tracks. Besides, if this beast is so fearsome then how come it couldn't catch up and hunt down two scared little boys? The idea that it was able to claw at Eric's face but not actually manage to catch him is utterly ridiculous.

Simon knows that the beast exists only in the boys' fevered imaginations; it just isn't real. The problem is that he lacks the ability to put his acute insight into words, and even if he could, it's unlikely that anyone would pay much attention to what he had to say. As countless examples from history teach us, once collective fear takes hold, it proves impossible to break its deadly grip with appeals to reason and logic. Besides, Simon's understanding of the beast as the evil that lurks within each and every one of us, is unlikely to go down to well with the other boys. No one likes to be told that they harbor evil deep within their souls, even if it does happen to be true. Perhaps it's just as well that Simon cannot articulate precisely what it is that his acute intuition and psychological insight tell him.

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In Chapter 6, Simon does not believe in Sam and Eric's (Samneric's) story. In fact, Simon does not believe that the beast exists at all.

In Simon's vision, the beast is a human being who is both "heroic" and "sick." Simon thinks that the beast actually resides in each human being. His conviction is predicated on the idea that everyone possesses a dual nature. To Simon, we are all capable of both good and evil.

In Chapter 8, the sow's head haunts Simon with its diabolical words. Simon even imagines that the bloodied head is speaking to him. During the surreal interaction, the sow's head claims to be part of each boy on the island. It ridicules Simon's belief that he can hunt and kill the "beast." The sow's head proclaims that it is invincible because it resides in every human being. It also maintains that Simon is powerless to change the status quo on the island.

The eerie exchange between Simon and the sow's head in Chapter 8 echoes Simon's thoughts about the beast in Chapter 6. It seems that Simon is the only one on the island who understands the human propensity for evil. Alone, he cannot stop the rest of the group from descending into a state of savage degradation. This is why Simon's vision affects him so deeply.

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In Chapter 6, Samneric run down from the top of the mountain and begin to tell the boys how they witnessed the beast. They describe the beast as having wings behind its head and looking horrendous. The boys mention that the beast has teeth and claws. They claim the beast also followed them down the mountain. Samneric tripped, fell, and rolled down the mountain as the beast was chasing them. They even claim that it "almost" touched them. Jack is quick to rally the hunters and says that the boys need to go into the forest and hunt the beast. Ralph is cautious but agrees to go to the only location on the island that Jack and his hunters have not yet explored to look for the beast. As the boys are walking through the forest, Simon begins to feel incredulous about Samneric's story. He does not believe that a bloodthirsty beast with claws exists. It does not make sense to Simon that the beast was not fast enough to catch Samneric and left no tracks. Simon imagines the beast as the "picture of a human at once heroic and sick." (Golding 103) Simon imagines the beast as the inherent evil within each individual. He interprets the beast as being the negative, wicked quality that every human possesses. He sees a human that was "once heroic and sick" which describes the duality of human nature. He understands that humans have positive traits like heroism, but knows that eventually the evil (sick) side of human nature will prevail.

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