Fire is a complex symbol in Golding's classic novel Lord of the Flies . In the story, fire is both destructive and necessary for survival at various moments in the story. When the boys initially attempt to light a signal fire, they pile too much dry wood onto the fire...
Fire is a complex symbol in Golding's classic novel Lord of the Flies. In the story, fire is both destructive and necessary for survival at various moments in the story. When the boys initially attempt to light a signal fire, they pile too much dry wood onto the fire and accidentally catch an entire side of the mountain on fire. Tragically, the littlun with a mulberry-colored birthmark dies in the forest fire. Towards the end of the story, Jack instructs his hunters to burn the forest in hopes of smoking Ralph out of his hiding place. By doing so, Jack and his savages set the entire island on fire and narrowly avoid death at the end of the story. These examples indicate that fire has the potential to be destructive like the disastrous decisions the boys make on the island.
The signal fire symbolically represents the hope of rescue, is the boys' connection to the outside world, and can be used as a gauge to measure the boys's civility. Initially, Jack and his hunters are in charge of maintaining the signal fire at the top of the mountain. The boys hope that a passing ship will see the smoke and eventually rescue them. Ralph, who is an outspoken proponent of civilization, continually reminds the boys about the importance of maintaining the signal fire. Tragically, the hunters allow the signal fire to go out and they miss a rare opportunity for rescue when a ship passes.
After relighting the signal fire, Samneric mistake a dead paratrooper on the top of the mountain for the beast and once again let the signal fire go out. Ralph, Simon, and Piggy then attempt to build a small signal fire on the beach but cannot maintain it because the other boys join Jack's tribe of savages and there is not enough dry wood around to feed the flames. The absence of the signal fire corresponds with the absence of civility and loss of hope on the island. Without the signal fire, the boys rapidly descend into savagery, and there is virtually no hope of rescue.