Beast Summary
Peter Benchley

Everything you need to understand or teach Beast by Peter Benchley.

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Beast Summary

Beast echoes Benchley's Jaws (1974; see separate entry). Benchley replaces the white shark in this novel with a near mythical creature, Architeuthis dux, the giant squid. Homer refers to it in The Odyssey, and seafaring Norsemen made it part of their mythology. Shore dwellers have long known of its existence because dead specimens have occasionally washed up on beaches. Few have seen live giant squid and marine biologists still have not learned much about their life processes.

Accordingly they retain their mystery, and their size and power make these usually peaceful creatures a source of possible menace.

It is this potential on which Benchley capitalizes. As Darling says of the terror experienced by his assistant: "The thing has opened a dark door inside this young man. It's weird how things we don't understand can arouse demons we don't even know we have." This capacity for terror is what Benchley exploits...

(read more from the Short Guide)

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