What is the paradox of the boys' attitude towards the beast?

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mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Another paradox of the concept of the beast is that while the boys recognize a force of evil, they do not realize that it lies within them and is not an exterior being. For, it is only Simon who knows that the beast is the inherent evil in all the boys; and, it is Simon who is killed as the boys have refused to listen to him when he returns from having listened to the Lord of the Flies:

"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?"

As is so often the case, the prophet is castigated or worse yet, persecuted when it is he who brings the truth--another paradox. Simon attempts to communicate his knowledge of the beast within man, but is bludgeoned and killed instead.

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lentzk's profile pic

Kristen Lentz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The paradox of the boys' attitude toward the beast is that while they fear the thought of some terrible monster inhabiting the island, they are also fascinated by it.  This paradox becomes most evident in chapter five of Lord of the Flies when the boys discuss at length all of the possible scenarios concerning the beast and what kind of form it might take.  While they are clearly frightened by the idea, the boys cannot stop talking about the beast. 

In some ways, this paradox concerning the boys' feelings for the beast seems like a love-hate relationship similar to how many people feel about horror movies.  Even though people watching the horror movie are terrified, they cannot look away from the action!  The boys on the island find themselves in a similar predicament.  Although the prospect of a monster on the island is horrifying, the beast is one of the only stimulating, interesting things for them to discuss; the beast nullifies their boredom.

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