In Lord of the Flies, what does moving the fire from the mountain to the beach symbolize?

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Kristen Lentz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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In chapter eight, "A Gift for the Darkness," Piggy and Ralph agree that they must move the fire from the mountain to the beach.  This decision comes at great cost, because Ralph must acknowledge his diminishing chances for rescue.  In many ways, Ralph and Piggy's decision is symbolic of the boys' surrender to the external forces on the island, reinforcing the notion that civilization and order is crumbling on the island.  First, consider the fact that the mysterious 'beast' now blocks their access to the mountain.  Ralph and Piggy are reluctant to challenge the hulking silhouette of the beast, and this dismal defeat suggests that chaos and darkness are gaining control of the island. 

Ralph's original great plan was to use the signal fire on the mountain to aid in their eventual rescue.  Now he and Piggy are resigned to keeping the fire on the beach, which is not nearly as good of a strategic location.  Civilization has symbolically cowered to the forces of darkness and chaos.  The boys' small fire on the beach will not be bright enough to sustain the flame of civilization or assist in any form of rescue. 


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