Why Does The Beast Let Casey Go at the End of Split?

M. Night Shyamalan’s 2016 film ‘Split,’ revolves around an ambiguous central character, Kevin, who has dissociative identity disorder, creating 23 different personalities inside his mind. After the more nefarious individuals residing within the body, Dennis and Patricia, take control, they abduct a trio of teenage girls and hold them hostage in an eerie locked room. However, things become even more disturbing once the girls, Casey, Marcia, and Claire, realize they’re here in preparation for the arrival of Kevin’s 24th personality, known only as the deadly Beast.

Initially, Casey and the other girls attempt to fight for their survival by grasping windows of opportunity and trying to appeal to Kevin’s safer personality, like the nine-year-old boy, Hedwig. Nevertheless, as the film nears its end, so does the girls’ doom with the emergence of the Beast, a real testament to Kevin’s ability to alter his body chemistry. Yet, despite the Beast’s barbaric disposition, which compels it to feast on the other girls— it spares Casey’s life. Thus, the question remains: why? SPOILERS AHEAD!

The Beast’s Ulterior Plan

In order to understand the Beast’s actions, we must first delve into his overarching role within Kevin’s psyche. The film establishes Kevin’s DID as a reaction to his extremely traumatic upbringing. Kevin’s father left the family when he was a child, leaving the young boy to grow up alone under his abusive mother’s guidance. The isolation, paired with the abuse, resulted in the boy developing an alter ego, Dennis, to protect himself from his mother. Consequently, Kevin’s list of alter egos grew with the years, and the man developed 23 personalities.

The personalities within Kevin’s mind are all aware of each other’s presence— gathered in his mind in a circle of chairs and taking turns to “step into the light,” i.e., front as the personality in charge. In one way or another, each personality is there to protect Kevin— be it through Dennis’ ability to ensure no one messes with him or Hedwig’s childlike innocence.

Consequently, the idea of “The Beast” emerged as the ultimate protector within Kevin’s diverse personas. The Beast is supposed to be the mysterious 24th personality who resides in a train station in Kevin’s mind. Described as taller, stronger, and more physically developed than all of Kevin’s other personalities, The Beast is supposed to live up to his title. Furthermore, there are stories of a ritual involving the sacrifice of the impure associated with the Beast’s arrival.

The Beast’s isolation from the other personalities is a result of his brutal nature, furthering the idea that his barbarism will keep Kevin and the others safe from the outside world, which constantly ridicules them. Therefore, after a workplace incident triggers the othered feeling within Kevin and his personality, Dennis and Patricia decide to bring The Beast out to show the world their true capabilities.

Casey and Her Traumatic Childhood

Before The Beast enters the narrative in the flesh, Casey and the girls have some time to fight for their survival despite the limited tools presented to them. Dennis kidnapped the girls after they were leaving Claire’s birthday party, an event Claire was only invited to after Claire pitied her. Thus, a parallel of ostracization and otherness between Casey and Kevin emerges.

Throughout the film, flashbacks chart a backstory for Casey detailing her childhood under her father’s care, who took her out hunting since she was a young child. As a result, she learned to observe situations through a critical lens, allowing her to make smarter decisions than Claire and Marcia, who often condemn themselves to more brutality in an effort to escape. Comparatively, Casey assesses each instance and tries to manipulate situations in her own favor.

Even so, Casey’s efforts get her as far as a futile radio SOS transmission but fail to afford her freedom before The Beast emerges. As a result, Casey is left to fend for herself against Kevin’s most brutal personality. As it would turn out, Dennis and Patricia planned the girls’ abduction to offer them to the Beast as sacrifices, fulfilling the “eating of the young impure” part of The Beast’s mythology.

Therefore, The Beast cannibalizes Marcia and Claire, leaving Casey as his next prey. Yet, Casey fights for it with all she has, and with a little help from Kevin’s other personalities and Karen— before the doctor meets her own end— Casey manages to get her hands on a shotgun. Thus, the final showdown between the Beast and Casey ensues, wherein even the gunshot bullets prove useless against the powerful Beast. However, one thing proves to work against the Beast, compelling him to spare Casey’s life: the red, angry scars on her lower stomach.

The Beast’s purpose within Kevin’s psyche is extreme protection, which has turned into aggressive attacks against the rest of the world. Therefore, he considers anyone who hasn’t undergone kindred trauma impure and, thereby, the enemy. Consequently, he halts to a stop when he notices the scars on Casey’s body— either self-inflicted or given to her by someone else. In her childhood, Casey was actually sexually abused by her uncle, John. The uncle eventually ended up getting custody of Casey after her father’s death, forcing the young girl to grow up under her abuser.

For the same reason, Casey has an inherently othered quality than her peers because her trauma compels her to isolate herself from others. Even though The Beast doesn’t know the specifics of Casey’s past, he recognizes her scars as a symbol of connection. Therefore, he spares Casey’s life— recognizing her as a fellow othered individual abused by society.

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