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

Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

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Why do the boys run from the dead parachutist in Lord of the Flies?

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In chapter 7“Beast from the Air,” the war gets closer. The parachutist is described as from “the world of grown-ups” (ch 7).  The boys, however, exist in a fantasy world.  In their minds, the parachutist becomes the beastie, the monster to be feared.

Earlier, the boys invented the story of the beast, or beastie.  It was a natural response to fear of the island, being alone, and what they might become.

The beastie represents the boys’ savagery, and it certainly comes out when the parachutist drops down.  The boys deal with their fear by attacking the unknown.  This is how Piggy and Simon are murdered.

The twins, Sam and Eric, are watching the fire.  The fall asleep, and when they wake up and build a new fire they see the parachutist.  Terrified, they run back to wake the others, saying, “We saw the beast—” (ch 7).

An assembly is called, and Sam ’n Eric’s vivid imagination recalls a terrible beast, with fur, eyes, teeth, and claws.  The boys decide to hunt it.

“This is more than a hunter’s job,” said Ralph at last, “because you can’t track the beast. And don’t you want to be rescued?” (ch 7)

The parachutist would make anyone frightened, dropping in unannounced.  The boys’ response fits into their growing savagery at this point.  By chapter 7, they are becoming less and less civilized.  They forget the outside world so completely that in their minds, there is no parachutist—only a beast.

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Why do the boys run from the dead parachutist?

The boys have convinced themselves that there is a beast in the forest.  They have gone out in search of the beast, and are hyped up on adrenalin.  In the dusky light of evening, when the wind blows open the chute and raises the dead body, the boys' minds immediately assume it is the beast coming for them.  It is similar to seeing a shadow in the dark and thinking it is something real - the brain tries to process the information any way it can.

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