Ms. Pahomov & Ms. Rhymer
26 March 2019
The Devil or You?
Why do people do bad things? Do they know those things are wrong when they do it? In Lord of the Flies by William Golding, there is a group of boys that get stuck on an island after a plane crash. The boys quickly change and start to do things they wouldn’t do back home. The boys know some of the things they do is wrong, which causes them to justify it by blaming it on a beast, who they all fear. A lot of times, when people are not willing to admit their wrong doings, they blame it on non existent creatures or spirits. Often times now, people blame the devil for everything evil. There has never been a sighting of the devil and no one knows if it is real, but it is something many people believe in because it’s hard to believe that people will just do horrible things by their own will. Similarly, in the book, the boys fear the idea of the beast and even blame the beast for the killing of one of them. It becomes clear that the beast is not real just as demons and the devil are not real in the real world.
In the summer of 1976, infamous serial killer David Berkowitz, a.k.a Son of Sam, killed six people and injured seven others in New York. Once he was caught, he blamed the dog of his neighbor who he claimed was possessing him to kill those people. Years later in an interview, he says, “As far as I’m concerned, that was not me. That was not me. Even the name, I hate that name, I despise the name.” It was only when he was caught and held responsible that he began to blame it on other beings. He says it was not him because people can’t handle the fact that they do things on their own accord. Even after all the years he spent in jail, he is still focused on forgetting because he can’t take accountability for what he did.
Furthermore, very early in the book, there is mention of the beast that some of the boys fear. Later on in the book, it becomes clear that the beat is one of the reasons the boys start to act savage. While they’re speaking about the best, Simon says “maybe there is a beast… what I mean is, maybe it’s only us.” Golding then provides some insight into what Simon may mean by stating, “Simon became inarticulate in an effort to express mankind's essential illness” (89). Simon is saying that there is a beast, but it doesn’t have claws and sharp teeth like many of them believe. Instead, he’s bringing up the idea that the beast may be one of them. Many of them begin to disregard their morals very quickly as they get on the island which is when the beast started to come up. The boys conjured up a beast to blame very early in their time on the island and Simon realized that. People will always change into their natural selves when they are put into a position like the boys and that is what the author described as mankind’s essential illness. It is their ability to do things that they know is wrong and have no remorse or hold themselves accountable.
In the case of the Son of Sam, he claims to have found God and believed that what he did was wrong and yet continued to say that the shootings “were a break from reality.” He continues, “I thought I was doing something to appease the devil.” He has yet to take responsibility for the shootings. Finding religion may have made it easier for him to blame creatures like the devil because it says that the devil is the root of all evil. That saying gives many people an excuse which is why he still does not want to take accountability for his actions. He even says that he believes he deserves the sentence that he received. To say something like that, you have to believe that it was you who did it and it should be you who suffered the consequences. Still, he refuses to say it aloud.
Later on in the book, Simon starts to believe in a beast. Golding uses an encounter that Simon has with the beast to show the nature of the beast. The beast asks Simo, “ You knew didn’t you? I’m a part of you? Close, close, close! I'm the reason why it's no go? Why things are the way they are?” (143). Although Simon still doesn’t believe in a literal beast, he still blames the inner beast for the boys’ problems. The author reveals to the audience that there is no beast, and that he is imagining the conversation believing that he is speaking to a beast when it is actually just a large parachute. To Simon, he is talking to the beast who is admitting that he is the reason the boys start to divide and act savage. Simon starts to understand that it is the beast and not the boys themselves that are causing the divides and change in the boys. Simon, and many of the other boys may not understand why all of these things are happening so they need to blame something else.
In conclusion, people do usually have a sense of right and wrong and consciously chose to do the wrong thing. Then they must find something out of this world to explain it because otherwise, it would just mean people do bad things just because they can or want to. People blame non-existent creatures like the devil and the beast because they need to believe that people aren’t all bad. Blaming something else may have given the boys hope that they weren’t losing all of their innocence and morals because it was a choice, but because the beast called them to have to learn to protect themselves and kill. Just like the Son of Sam may feel better knowing that he didn’t just kill that many people, but it was the possessed dog who made him do it. That other beings are at fault for human savagery because no one can truly admit what “mankind's essential illness” is.
Editors, History.com. “Son of Sam Arrested.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 9 Feb.
Sitzer , Carly. “‘Son of Sam’ Killer David Berkowitz Speaks: ‘I Was Just Very Lost and
Confused.’” “Son of Sam” Killer David Berkowitz Speaks: “I Was Just Very Lost and Confused,” In Touch Weekly , 13 June 2018, www.intouchweekly.com/posts/son-of-sam-david-berkowitz-interview-138931/.
WIlliam Golding. Lord of The Flies. Penguin Books, 2006.
Worthen, Meredith. “David Berkowitz.” Biography.com, A&E Networks Television, 16 Jan. 2019,