What is the allegorical importance of the beast in connection to the major theme of The Lord of the Flies?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As an allegorical tale of the conflict between civilization and inherent evil, Lord of the Flies depicts theprevalence of "the evil that men do" which cannot be stemmed by the conditioning of civilization once humans are removed from such civilization. This idea is initially expressed in Chapter Four of Golding's novel as the sadistic Roger is described wanting to throw a stone a little Henry, who plays by the water's edge:

Here, invisible yet strong, was the taboo of the old life.....Roger's arm was conditioned by a civilization that knew nothing of him and was in ruins.

Further, as the boys stranded on the island remain removed from civilization, they descend into savagery as Jack Merridew paints his face, creating a mask which "liberated [him] from shame and self-consciousness" and enlists other boys as hunters of the feral pigs on the island. Unable to perceive in themselves their inherent evil, the boys personify this innate force of cruelty and sadism as a "beastie" who is snakelike or who inhabits the top of the mountain and terrorizes them.

Only the intuitive Simon, a Christ-like figure, understands the nature of evil. After he secludes himself from the others by going to his secret enclosure atop the mountain, Simon is confronted by the pig's head impaled upon a stick. In a trance-like state, not unlike that of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, Beelzebub, the Lord of the Flies, assumes the form of the pig's head and speaks to Simon,

"You knew, didn't you?  I'm part of you?  Close, close, close! I'm the reason why it's no go? Why things are what they are?"

When Simon descends the mountain and tries to explain to the others that evil resides within them, however, the boys ridicule him; and, as they further embrace their innate savagery, the hunters circle around him and ritualistically bludgeon the innocent Simon to death. Thus, Simon's death represents the destruction of beauty and goodness as now at the center of man is the Lord of the Flies, the "evil that men do." 

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Lord of the Flies

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