In literature, a beguiling character often uses deception in order to mislead other characters. If an individual is skilled in this art, he may even go so far as to deceive the reader. In John Collier's short story, "Thus I Refute Beelzy," Mr. Beelzy is one such character. Throughout the work, he is able to keep a veil over the eyes of those who 'see' him, and so hide his true intentions.
Mr. Beelzy's deceptive appearance stems from the manner of his entrance into Small Simon's life. The reasons for his presence are clarified early in the story as the author demonstrates the distance between Small Simon and his father. Small Simon and his father do not share a positive relationship, because of the condescending and heavy- handed manner of Mr. Carter. This fact becomes evident with Small Simon's displeasure over his father's early arrival and his anger over Mr. Carter's lecture about wasting time. In addition, Small Simon does not have any playmates or friends with whom he spends his time. Consequently, Small Simon is without any guidance or positive influences in his life. With Small Simon 'alone' in the world, Mr. Beelzy is able to intrude, remaining guised as an imaginary friend. In this manner he is able to initially influence Small Simon without drawing the attention of Mr. Carter.
The reader accepts the idea that Mr. Beelzy is imaginary from the beginning, because the reader sees Small Simon as being deserted and in need of such a friend. This belief is quite understandable, because Mr. Beelzy fits the persona of an imaginary friend. He is difficult to describe and "... sometimes one thing, sometimes another." He also "loves" Small Simon and promises him his protection. All of these facts seem to contribute to the idea that Mr. Beelzy is good, but imaginary. Because of Small Simon's
vague description and the reader's lack of knowledge about Mr. Beelzy, he is automatically dismissed as being both fictional and harmless.
With these ideas in mind,...
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