What does Piggy mean by " now we've really got a beast" in Chapter 8 from Lord of the Flies by William Golding?Who is he specifically talking about?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In chapter 8, Ralph, Roger, and Jack return from the top of the mountain and tell the others that they saw the beast. Piggy, who is the most intelligent, pragmatic boy in the group, is indignant and astonished that a beast truly exists. After Jack fails to usurp power and runs off to the other side of the island, Piggy tells Ralph,

But now we really got a beast, though I can’t hardly believe it, we’ll need to stay close to the platform; there’ll be less need of him and his hunting. So now we can really decide on what’s what. (Golding, 184)

Earlier in the novel, Piggy attempted to solve the problem of the beast pragmatically and believed that there was no way a large, carnivorous creature could inhabit the island. After Ralph recalls his experience fleeing the beast, Piggy is perplexed and cannot understand how the beast actually exists. Piggy's comment expresses his disbelief as he attempts to grasp the reality of the situation. Interestingly, Piggy does not spend an extensive amount of time attempting to comprehend the nature of the beast and immediately begins planning what the boys will do next. He mentions that it is a positive thing that Jack left the group and comes up with the idea to built a signal fire by the bathing pool, which temporarily lifts the boys' morale.

Kristen Lentz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

InThe Lord of the Fliesby William Golding, when a mysterious beast haunts the island, frightening the boys, the character Piggy remains suspicious and pragmatic.  He tends to be more scientific in his beliefs, even explaining to the boys in chapter five why there could not be ghosts or beasts on the island:

"'Cos things wouldn't make sense. Houses an' streets, an' --TV--they wouldn't work" (92)

In chapter eight, "Gift for the Darkness," Piggy's beliefs about the beast shift as he "looked up miserably from the dawn-pale beach to the dark mountain" (124).  The boys have spotted a beast, a real one this time (or so they believe), and Piggy's scientific world falls apart in light of this new evidence. 

When he says "but now we really got a beast though I can't hardly believe it," Piggy tries to grasp the possibility of something he cannot explain away.  Of course, the reader realizes that the "beast" is really a dead parachutist that floated onto the island, but for the boys it is a harrowing possibility.  The tribe has fractured, with Jack leading his hunters away, but logical Piggy turns his mind from the conundrum of the beast to the best way of carrying on without Jack. 

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Lord of the Flies

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