Lord of the Flies Questions and Answers
by William Golding

Lord of the Flies book cover
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In Lord of the Flies, why is Ralph so upset that the boys let the fire go out? Conversely, why is Jack so seemingly unconcerned about it?

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Nona Stiltner eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In Lord of the Flies, Ralph is upset that the boys let the fire go out because the fire represented hope for rescue. As the pragmatic and thoughtful leader of the group, Ralph gravely understands what the fire meant for the boys's salvation, and he also understands that the fire being allowed to die symbolized the lack of responsibility that the boys were taking in their own survival.

Jack, even though he postures himself as a leader, is instead just a power-hungry individual who is only interested in asserting power over other humans and living beings. Jack is not thinking pragmatically or strategically about collective survival. Jack does not seem to care about the survival of the group and is only interested in benefitting himself and successfully hunting the pig.

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Inuk Lee eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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This is a good question. Ralph is upset when the boys let the fire go down, because he is the most responsible boy, and he assumes and is given leadership. More to the point, he wants to be rescued from the island. Hence, when the fire goes out, there is no signal fire, which means that no one will find them. Moreover, in chapter two the boys were reprimanded for not taking the fire seriously. So, everyone knows to maintain the fire.  What makes the situation even worse is that Piggy sees a ship on the horizon. So, hope of rescue dwindled even more. 

As for Jack, he could care less about the fire, because he had a different obsession. His obsession was to hunt the pig. So, even though it was the responsibility of the hunters to maintain the fire, they were busy hunting. When the fire went out, they were out hunting. However, they came back bloodied carrying a pig. They were successful in the hunt, but failed in maintaining the fire. 

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