In William Golding's Lord of the Flies, a dead parachutist falls onto a tree at the top of a mountain on the island and becomes entangled in the parachute.
To readers, the dead parachutist symbolizes a connection to the adult world—the real world, which is separate from the contained world on the island on which the novel is set.
To the naive young boys on the island, the parachutist represents something much darker. They believe the dead person to be a beast. When the wind blows, the parachute moves, and, to the boys, it looks like the beast is moving. The boys, especially the younger ones, are terrified of the beast. They describe it as being snakelike, and they frequently have nightmares about it. As the novel progresses and the island's inhabitants devolve, their belief in the beast becomes stronger and more intense. Eventually, the boys come to view the beast as a sort of godlike figure.
Simon is the only character in the novel to understand the true nature of the beast. Early in the novel, Simon states his belief that the beast is not real—at least not in the way the others think it is. He believes the beast is actually the inherent evil that lives inside each person. In other words, the beast is really their primal impulses. Simon worries the boys will cause their own ruin by giving in to their violent, primitive impulses. His fears prove to be true.
Simon is alone near the mountain top when he sees the beast for what it really is: a dead parachutist being moved by the wind. He hurries to share this news with the others but unfortunately is attacked and brutally killed by members of Jack's hunting group before he can tell the others what he saw.