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

Lord of the Flies

by William Golding
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What did SamnEric mistake as the beast in Lord of the Flies?

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The fact that Samneric mistake a dead pilot for a beast tells the reader a lot about their mindset. The frail youngsters are constantly frightened out of their wits, seeing beasts behind every tree and lurking in every shadow. But that's just how Jack wants it. His power is based...

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The fact that Samneric mistake a dead pilot for a beast tells the reader a lot about their mindset. The frail youngsters are constantly frightened out of their wits, seeing beasts behind every tree and lurking in every shadow. But that's just how Jack wants it. His power is based upon nothing more than fear. If the boys are frightened then they'll look to Jack to be their savior and protector. They may not like him, but they know that his psychopathic blood-lust will be more than a match for anything that a beast can throw at them. The beast, though wholly fictitious, fosters a sense of unity among the boys. It's a completely false unity, to be sure, but in the meantime it holds them together at a time when they need to put on a united front to deal with the privations of life on the island.

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Chapter 6 is called “Beast from Air” because the parachute and body that drops down onto the island is mistaken by the twins for the beast. They describe it as furry, with wings, and “slinking behind trees” while it chases them (p. 100).  The twins are terrified when they return to tell the other boys about the beast.  By this point, the beast is present in all of their minds.  They imagine it in every shadow.  The twins’ incoherent description of the beast in this chapter just serves to increase the hysteria, and eventually leads to the boys’ doom.

Golding, William. Lord of the Flies. New York: Coward-McCann, 1962. Print.

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