Lord of the Flies Questions and Answers
by William Golding

Lord of the Flies book cover
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What is the significance of fire in Lord of the Flies?

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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...

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