In chapter five, Ralph holds an assembly to address the fact that the boys have been neglecting their agreed-upon duties and pleads with them to follow his directives. Ralph then mentions that the signal fire is the most important thing on the island and says that it is essential to maintain the fire at all times in order to increase their chances of rescue. Ralph then asks,
Don’t you understand? Can’t you see we ought to—ought to die before we let the fire out? (Golding, 144)
Ralph's comment can be interpreted as a challenge for the boys to maintain their civility at all costs. In this context, the signal fire can symbolically represent civilization, structure, and hope. By applying a deeper meaning to Ralph's quote, one can interpret Ralph's comment as a call for the boys to maintain their civility and a warning that they will eventually die if they neglect the fire. Ralph is metaphorically telling the boys that they will die as a result of chaos and anarchy if they lose their civility and begin acting like savages, which is exactly what happens. It is also important to note that the maintenance of the signal fire is a good indicator of the boys' civility and savagery on the island. Once the signal fire goes out and is relocated, the boys rapidly descend into savagery.