Two separate illustrations of an animal head and a fire on a mountain

Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

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In Lord of the Flies, why does Ralph lose his focus on the signal fire in the course of the novel?

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While Ralph first appears a natural leader, perfect to guide the boys on the island, he slowly reveals himself to be lacking several characteristics of a good leader. One of these is his inability to rally those around him to the cause of rescue. While they are willing to light the fire at first, it is more out of the novelty of the act than the result of possible rescue. As the novel continues, most boys refuse their watches over the fire, and partake instead of lazy indulgences.

Ralph falls victim to this as well. He is given to daydreams, and has difficulty balancing his illusions with reality. It is Piggy who constantly reminds him of the importance of fire, and the importance of being rescued. As Piggy's influence over Ralph wanes, so does his focus on the signal fire. One crucial example of this is the ritualistic nature of Simon's death. At this point, Ralph has been won over by Jack and his hunters, and given in to the animalistic urges. Thus, when removed from society, Ralph finds it difficult to stay in touch with the rational order of thinking.

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