The Beast (Pig's Head) in Lord of the Flies: Analysis & Quotes

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  • 0:03 Making the Beast
  • 0:40 First Encounter
  • 1:28 The Lord of the Flies
  • 2:20 Simon and the Beast
  • 4:12 Boys and Their Games
  • 5:15 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Monica Sedore

Monica holds a master's degree and teaches 11th grade English. Previously, she has taught first-year writing at the collegiate level and worked extensively in writing centers.

In 'Lord of the Flies', the beast is really just a fear of the dark in the younger boys. In this lesson, learn how the beast changes into a deity figure, then simply a symbol of the boys' darkness and brutality.

Making the Beast

Sometimes when we are afraid, we make up something concrete to represent our fear. We can earnestly believe it exists, even though really it is just a manifestation of our terror. This is not unlike 'the Beast' in William Golding's Lord of the Flies, which takes places on a desert island where a plane carrying a group of young boys has crashed.

In the novel, the beast is described at various moments as having 'teeth. . . and big black eyes', 'comes out of the sea--', or 'out of the dark--'. But, as you will learn, the real 'beast' exists within the characters.

First Encounter

At first the beast simply symbolizes fear. The first mention of a beast in the novel occurs when one of the younger boys expresses concern about it during a group meeting to establish a leader. Shy, another boy speaks for him, saying, 'He wants to know what you're going to do about the snake-thing. . . Now he says it was a beastie.'

The boys discuss the possibility of the actual existence of such a beast, and the topic is largely discarded. But the younger boys still fear it. It is Jack who first calls the creature 'the beast' while denying it, 'Be frightened because you're like that--but there is no beast in the forest.'

Gradually, the story of the beast moves from being a tale about boys being afraid of the dark to some mystical creature that the boys worship.

The Lord of the Flies

The longer the boys are on the island, the more uncivilized they become. They kill a boar, leaving the head. 'Jack spoke loudly, 'This head is for the beast. It's a gift.' The silence accepted the gift and awed them. The head remained there, dim-eyed, grinning faintly, blood blackening between the teeth.' It is this head that they name the Lord of the Flies, and it is for this beast that the novel is named. By this point, the beast no longer signifies fear; instead, the beast is something that should be both hunted and revered, or respected.

It is Ralph who voices his fear, though, 'not of the beast. I mean I'm scared of that too. But. . . without the smoke signal we'll die here.' They have reached a moment where survival means getting off the island. Even if they defeat the beast, they may not live much longer if they're not rescued.

Simon and the Beast

In the novel, Simon is a quiet, thoughtful boy. He is overcome by the island, its mysteries, and the chaos of the other boys and escapes into the woods. There he finds a secluded spot to rest. Simon watches Jack and the hunters kill the boar and leave its head as an offering. Hidden in his resting place, Simon begins to hallucinate. He sees and hears the Lord of the Flies speaking to him. Gradually, it begins to mock him, and finally it says, 'There isn't anyone to help you. Only me. And I'm the Beast.' The conversation that occurs is actually between Simon and himself; he's hallucinating. 'The Beast' is voicing the fears that Simon holds.

When Simon makes his way back to camp, the other boys have begun to perform a dance that mimicked the hunt for the pig. At first, Roger pretends to be the pig running for his life as the others chant, 'Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood!' It's during this chant that Simon appears from the thick island forest and unwittingly enters the bloodthirsty circle.

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