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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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up vote 6 down vote accepted

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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In the episode where Eko dies, "The Cost of Living" in Season 3, Locke finds out that Eko has seen the Monster. Locke tells him that he's seen it too: "It was a very bright light. It was beautiful." And similarly he tells check in the Season 1 episode "White Rabbit", "I've looked into the eye of this island and what I saw was beautiful."

So that suggests that Locke was blinded by the Monster's flash of light, which it produces when it encounters someone for the first time, in order to "scan" them to determine their character and memories. (Jacob and the Man in Black have a long-running contest to see whether humans are always corruptible because it is in their very nature to sin, or whether it doesn't have to "always end the same way. So when new people come to the island, the monster judges them; if they're beyond redemption he kills them, otherwise he tries to manipulate and corrupt them to prove that he's right. But Jack ultimately proves that Jacob is right about the fundamental goodness of Man, by being willing to sacrifice himself for the sake of the Island.)

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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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I think that Locke lied about seeing the smoke monster because he believes he has a special relationship with the Island. Everyone else is not "worthy" enough to know/understand so he keeps it to himself.

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