What situations is fire associated with in Lord of the Flies?

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

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Fire is a powerful symbol in Lord of the Flies, representing both the destructive force of nature as well as the boys' connection to civilization.  The first instance of fire in the novel occurs when the boys build their first signal fire on the mountain.  The overly jubilant efforts of the boys lead them to build an enormous fire that gets out of control and burns up the dry side of the mountain.  At the end of chapter two as the fire rages out of control, Piggy realizes that one of the littluns is unnaccounted for, and the reader can only assume that the young boy perishes in the blaze.  Later, the signal fire becomes a lifeline for Ralph in his attempts to be rescued.  He views keeping the signal fire lit as the utmost important priority on the island; Ralph wants a smoke signal so the boys can be rescued. 

By the end of the novel, Jack uses fire to flush out Ralph from the dense thicket in the jungle.  Jack's fire rages out of control, and ironically, the smoke from Jack's fire signals the cruiser that ends up rescuing the boys. 


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