Unlike Jack and his band of hunters who become peoccupied with hunting, Ralph considers considers rescue to be the primary objective of the boys. In order to do this, he is determined that a signal fire must be kept continuously burning in order to attract the attention of any passing ships.
The first major conflict between Jack and Ralph occurs as a result of the signal fire not being maintained when a ship passed. Jack had taken away the fire attendants to assist him on his hunt. Ralph is furious, and although Jack is initially apologetic, he later ceases to care at all as he and his band descend into savagery.
Ralph is later incredulous at the boys lack of interest in maintaining the signal fire, "Don't you understand you painted fools?.....Don't you understand? There may be a ship out there-"(p.219). It is ironic that the huge fire lit to flush Ralph out when he is being hunted at the end of the story ceates enough smoke to attract a rescue ship.