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In episode 4 of season 1 we see Locke taking its first look at "the monster" (~30:00), while hunting boars on his own. He seems to be looking straight at something, not just randomly towards the direction of the noises. But then (~38:53), when asked by Walt's father, he says he didn't see it.

Why does he lie?

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Keeping in mind what we now know (that the monster is The Man In Black), we can only speculate at what John actually saw. Each person who saw the smoke monster presumably saw more than just a large cloud of smoke - they saw some kind of vision in the monster (if memory serves, this is what happened with Mr. Eko for example). What John saw probably affected him in a way that he wanted to keep whatever vision he saw to himself.

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There might not be a reason for why he lied other than he is John Locke and that's what John Locke does best.

Before the camp bonded tightly, John Locke was noted as man that seldom shared information about where and what he was doing on the island.

Case in point, he reluctantly told the camp about his finding of "the hatch" and he sabotaged the communication equipment that Sayid used to search for the Island's radio transmitter.

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