What causes the hunters to neglect the fire and let it go out in Lord of the Flies?

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Fairly early in The Lord of the Flies, a conflict develops between two potential leaders among the schoolboys stranded on the island. First, there is Ralph, who (broadly) represents pragmatism. He's a natural leader, but it's obvious as he faces challenges that he has his indecisive moments. He wants the boys to build huts and work together to take care of the litt'luns and the fire (for rescue, but also for hope).

Then there is Jack, who is more action oriented. He represents a "leap before you look" philosophy, and he thinks that by killing a pig, he will unify the boys and find food.

In the chapter "Painted Faces and Long Hair," the boys begin their descent into savagery, and this is foreshadowed in the chapter's title. Jack leads them in face-painting in preparation for killing a wild pig they know lives on the island. Ralph, meanwhile, is trying to talk the boys into building huts. Ralph is also making sure there is plenty of kindling for their fire and that the fire stays lit.

But the face-painting distracts the boys who are supposed to watch the fire. Ralph discovers that although kindling is available, the fire has died out. The fire represents a possible signal, and it's also a way to cook the pig! Mainly, though, the lack of fire is a symbolic representation of their tentative loss of civilization.

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This happens in chapter 4. Throughout this chapter, a striking difference is emerging between Jack and Ralph. Ralph wants to accomplish tasks that help make the children a successful society, and Jack grows more bloodthirsty to kill a pig. This need to kill has criven Jack to complete the symbolic ritual of face-paint, which must have aided his ability to kill a pig because this is the very act that kept the choir boys from tending to the fire.

Ralph discovered no boys next to the fire, but plenty of fuel for the fire. He then discovered that a celebration was underway of a pig that the choir boys and Jack had captured. In fact, they are actually chanting a lyric to the pig:

"Kill the pig! Cut her throat. Spill her blood."

This pursuit obviously kept the boys off track and though it may have provided temporary satisfaction, it also may have prolonged their stay on the island.

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