Lord of the Flies

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The Lord of the Flies (the Beast) Symbol Analysis

The Lord of the Flies (the Beast) Symbol Icon
The "Lord of the Flies," or the beast, inhabits the severed pig head that Jack's hunters stake into the ground and leave as an offering. Simon recognizes that the Lord of the Flies is the savage monster buried in everyone. When the Lord of Flies tells Simon "we are going to have fun on this island," it means they're going to indulge every want and desire, without regard to the rules of civilization. The name "Lord of the Flies" is a reference to the name of the Biblical devil Beelzebub, so on one level, "the beast" is a kind of savage supernatural figure, but mostly it symbolizes the evil and violence that potentially exists in the heart of every human.

The Lord of the Flies (the Beast) Quotes in Lord of the Flies

The Lord of the Flies quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Lord of the Flies (the Beast). For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Human Nature Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Books edition of Lord of the Flies published in 2003.
Chapter 2 Quotes
"He says he saw the beastie, the snake-thing, and will it come back tonight?"
"But there isn't a beastie!"
"He says in the morning it turned into them things like ropes in the trees and hung in the branches. He says will it come back again tonight?"
"But there isn't a beastie!"
There was no laughter at all now and more grave watching. Ralph pushed both hands through his hair and looked at the little boy in mixed amusement and exasperation.
Related Characters: Ralph (speaker), Piggy (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Lord of the Flies (the Beast)
Page Number: 36
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, one of the small boys who's been trapped on the island asks Ralph--who's just been elected the leader of the island--what he's going to do about the "beastie." The small boy--probably no more than 5 or 6 years old--is terrified of the beastie, and wants Ralph to fight it.

It's important to note a few things. First, the passage sets a clear contrast between order and civilization, symbolized by Ralph and his conch, and anarchy, symbolized by the fear of the vague, formless beastie. For the time being, the boys either don't believe the beastie exists (Ralph, the rationalist, dismisses it altogether), or they think of it as an external thing--a literal monster to be avoided or slain. As we'll see later on, however the beastie is actually a more abstract, psychological opponent.

Finally, it's interesting to note that the little boy isn't speaking directly--he's actually using Piggy as a correspondent when addressing Ralph. Piggy, the intellectual of the group, is something of a spokesman for society's problems: it's his job to listen to the "little guy" and plead his case before the authorities (i.e., Ralph).

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Chapter 5 Quotes
What I mean is... Maybe it's only us...
Related Characters: Simon (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Lord of the Flies (the Beast)
Page Number: 89
Explanation and Analysis:

In this section, we meet Simon, a shy, young boy who nonetheless seems preternaturally wise (and a kind of Christ-figure, as we later see). Simon and the other boys on the island are talking, once again, about the beast--the mysterious monster that supposedly endangers the boys' lives. While most of the boys believe that the beast is an external object, Simon suggests that it's actually a product of the boys' imagination.

It's important to understand what Simon means. Simon isn't saying that the boys are hallucinating or imagining the beast. Rather, he's suggesting that the greatest dangers on the island (the greatest source of violence and destruction) isn't a beast at all--it's the boys themselves. From what we've already seen, Simon has a point: the boys kill animals, hurt each other, set the trees on fire, and generally destroy everything in their path. The boys exemplify man's capacity to destroy, and to enjoy destruction--and this is the real "beast" that Simon alludes to.

Chapter 8 Quotes
There isn't anyone to help you. Only me. And I'm the Beast... 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 the way they are?
Related Characters: Simon
Related Symbols: The Lord of the Flies (the Beast)
Page Number: 143
Explanation and Analysis:

In this dreamlike scene, Simon hallucinates an encounter with "the Beast." At first, Simon notices the sight of a pig's head on a stick, covered in flies. As he falls into a trance state, Simon finds himself talking to the pig's head. The head claims that it is the Beast to which the other boys have been alluding all along. Strangely, the Beast claims that it was foolish for the other boys to believe that it was an external object, one that could be hunted and killed.

The passage confirms what Simon had already suspected--the supposed "beast" isn't a living animal at all; it's the collective spirit of the boys' violence and brutality, the potential for evil and savagery that lives inside all humans. Jack and his followers have discovered something within themselves--a strong desire to hurt and kill. This desire, which is uniquely human, yet suppressed within most of human society, is precisely what the pig's head embodies.

The paradox of this passage is that although the Beast insists that it's not a material thing at all, it is a material thing in the passage--it's a head on a stick. It would be a huge mistake to take the passage too literally. Simon is horrified by the sight of the pig's head, but he understands that the head itself is only a form that the Beast takes in his imagination. In reality, the Beast has no form whatsoever--it's the "heart of darkness" that lies inside all human beings.

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The Lord of the Flies (the Beast) Symbol Timeline in Lord of the Flies

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Lord of the Flies (the Beast) appears in Lord of the Flies. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
Human Nature Theme Icon
Civilization Theme Icon
Savagery and the "Beast" Theme Icon
The Weak and the Strong Theme Icon
...boy whispers to Piggy, and Piggy tells everyone what the boy said. He saw a "beastie," a "snake-thing," the previous night in the woods. Ralph and the older boys dismiss this... (full context)
Civilization Theme Icon
Savagery and the "Beast" Theme Icon
The Weak and the Strong Theme Icon
...again, but are disturbed. Piggy asks where the boy with the birthmark who saw the "beastie" is. No one knows. (full context)
Chapter 5
Civilization Theme Icon
Savagery and the "Beast" Theme Icon
...calls the littleun's crybabies. He says he's been all over the island, and there's no beast. Piggy agrees with Jack. (full context)
Spirituality and Religion Theme Icon
A littleun named Phil stands up and says he saw the beast in the forest the previous night. To everyone's shock, Simon says the boy probably just... (full context)
Human Nature Theme Icon
When Percival recovers his voice, he tells the other boys that the beast comes from the sea. This idea terrifies the boys. (full context)
Civilization Theme Icon
Spirituality and Religion Theme Icon
Simon takes the conch. He says maybe the boys themselves are the beast. Piggy thinks this idea is crazy. Many of the boys think Simon's saying the beast... (full context)
Civilization Theme Icon
Savagery and the "Beast" Theme Icon
The Weak and the Strong Theme Icon
...questions Ralph's leadership. He says he doesn't care about the rules, that he'll hunt the beast and kill it. He starts a chant on the beach. Everyone but Ralph, Piggy, and... (full context)
Chapter 6
Civilization Theme Icon
Savagery and the "Beast" Theme Icon
...are wings. They run to the beach in terror to tell the others that the beast chased them down the mountain. (full context)
Human Nature Theme Icon
Civilization Theme Icon
Savagery and the "Beast" Theme Icon
The Weak and the Strong Theme Icon
...piece of stone forty feet above the water below. They think it might be the beast's hideout. Ralph, as the leader, volunteers to search it. Jack follows behind him. (full context)
Civilization Theme Icon
Savagery and the "Beast" Theme Icon
The boys find no beast, but Jack is excited because the rock protects a cave and would make a terrific... (full context)
Chapter 8
Civilization Theme Icon
Back on the beach, Piggy can't believe the beast is real. He asks what they should do. Ralph isn't sure. He says the beast... (full context)
Human Nature Theme Icon
Civilization Theme Icon
Savagery and the "Beast" Theme Icon
Jack says his hunters could kill the beast. Ralph says they're just boys with sticks. Infuriated, Jack blows the conch to call a... (full context)
Savagery and the "Beast" Theme Icon
...also says that when his tribe hunts they'll leave some of the kill for the beast. That way, it won't bother them. Jack leads the boys into the forest. (full context)
Savagery and the "Beast" Theme Icon
...stake the pig head on the stick and leave it as an offering to the beast. (full context)
Spirituality and Religion Theme Icon
...leave and go back to the others. He stares at the pig's head, at the Lord of the Flies , and seems to recognize it. (full context)
Human Nature Theme Icon
Civilization Theme Icon
Savagery and the "Beast" Theme Icon
Spirituality and Religion Theme Icon
...Lord of the Flies says, "We are going to have fun on this island!" The beast warns Simon that if he tries to interfere Jack, Roger, Maurice, Robert, Bill, Piggy, and... (full context)
Chapter 9
Spirituality and Religion Theme Icon
...the island. He climbs the mountain even though he's staggering with exhaustion. He sees the "beast" and realizes that it's just a dead parachutist. He untangles the cords holding the parachutist... (full context)
Human Nature Theme Icon
Civilization Theme Icon
Savagery and the "Beast" Theme Icon
Spirituality and Religion Theme Icon
The Weak and the Strong Theme Icon
...the dead parachutist. In their frenzied dance, though, the other boys think that he's the beast. They surround him, and beat and claw him to death. The rain pours down. Wind... (full context)
Chapter 10
Civilization Theme Icon
...every bigun except them and Samneric has joined Jack's tribe. Ralph tells Piggy that the "beast" that came out of the forest was Simon, and that they murdered him. Piggy screams... (full context)
Savagery and the "Beast" Theme Icon
The Weak and the Strong Theme Icon
...says that the thing that crawled out of the forest the previous night was the beast. But he says that they didn't kill it, because it's impossible for them to ever... (full context)