In Lord of the Flies, what does Simon think about 'the beast'?

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Douglas Horley eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Simon appears to be the wisest amongst the boys, but his deeply sensitive/spiritual nature sees him treated like an outcast. His failure to realise his potential in giving sound advice to the group is sadly demonstrated at the gathering which debated the existence of a beast on the island.

Simon felt compelled to speak, but failed to convey his point.

"Maybe," he said hesitantly, "maybe there is a beast."

"What I mean is.....maybe it's only us." 

"We could be sort of...."

Simon became inarticulate in his effort to express mankind's essential illness. (p. 111)

He reaches for the truth, that the beast is not in a physical form roaming the island but is actually inside all of them - a kind of primitive savagery and evil which threatens to emerge given the fertile conditions of isolation and absence of adult leadership. His indecision is repeated later in front of Ralph as the boys set off in a determined effort to act on Samn' Eric's testimony.

Simon mumbled confusedly: "I don't believe in the beast." (p.130)

He fails to elaborate on this and Ralph clearly doesn't take him seriously anyway. Simon's failure to articulate his fears and perhaps help change the course of terrible destruction the boys embark on is one of many tragic twists that occurs in the course of the novel. His final uncovering of the truth leads to the awful fireside climax, where his death finishes all hope of sanity and civility being restored to the boys. 

gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Simon is the only character throughout the novel to understand the true nature of the beast. In chapter 5, the boys begin to discuss the existence of the beast during an assembly. After Ralph, Jack, and Piggy agree that there could not possibly be a beast on the island, Simon attempts to articulate his unique, unpopular thoughts concerning the existence of a beast. When Simon grabs the conch he says, "Maybe . . . maybe there is a beast" (Golding, 68). Golding then writes, "Simon became inarticulate in his effort to express mankind's essential illness" (68). Simon can only describe humanity's inherent wickedness by asking, "What's the dirtiest thing there is?" (Golding, 68). Simon, who is depicted as a Christ figure throughout the novel, is the only boy to realize that the beast is the inherent wickedness in each child. Rather than viewing the beast as an external threat like the others, Simon understands that each child possesses an extraordinary capacity for evil, which is inherent in their nature. Simon is proven correct in his assessment after speaking face to face with the Lord of the Flies, who tells him,

"Fancy thinking the Beast was something you could hunt and kill!. . . . 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?" (Golding, 111).

After Simon discovers that the beast on top of the mountain is actually a dead paratrooper, the boys mistake Simon for the beast and savagely beat him to death.

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Lord of the Flies

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