Lord of the Flies by William Golding

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What does the fire in Lord of the Flies represent?

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Hollis Sanders eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Lord of the Flies carries with it a very cynical message about the nature of humanity. In particular, it seems to show that it is intrinsically destructive. Because of this, the symbol of fire within the narrative takes on a dual and seemingly paradoxical meaning. One one hand, fire is shown to represent the hope and ideals of civilization. To Ralph, who is shown on several occasions to be the wisest of the children on the island, the maintenance of the signal fire is of paramount importance. As the group of boys descend further into madness and primal savagery, Ralph struggles to remind them of the fire and how it represents the final connection with the light of civilization beyond the island.

However, the fire is also shown to represent destruction and how this destruction is inherent in the nature of human beings. When the boys first crash on the island, the scorched area is referred to repeatedly as a scar. Indeed, the boys' presence on the island can be seen as a wound. The natural...

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