Two separate illustrations of an animal head and a fire on a mountain

Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

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In Lord of the Flies, what is the significance of the chapter title "Fire Mountain"? What does it foreshadow?

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The title of chapter 2 foreshadows the boys' attempt to make a signal fire on the top of the mountain. The signal fire is an important symbol of civilization and rescue throughout the novel and its visibility corresponds to the conditions on the island. As the boys become more savage and regress towards their primitive nature, they begin to neglect the signal fire, which eventually goes out. In chapter 2, the boys attempt to create a signal fire on the top of the mountain in hopes that passing ships will spot the smoke and rescue them. Unfortunately, the boys cannot control the first fire they build as the wind drives the flames into the surrounding forest, which starts a forest fire. The littlun with a mulberry-colored birthmark dies in the forest fire and the boys realize how difficult it is to control the flames. The dual nature of fire also symbolically represents both rescue and destruction and the signal fire is a good gauge to evaluate conditions on the island.

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Fire is an important symbol throughout the book. Fire can be a good or a bad thing, depending on whether it is kept controlled. This is representative of the boys as well. In this chapter, Chapter 2, the boys try building their first rescue fire on top of the mountain. The fire gets out of control, and the system of order the boys started also breaks down, getting out of control just like the fire. The breakdown of organization parallels the introduction of the "beast", introducing fear into the minds of the boys. This is the beginning of chaos on the island. The fire becomes a symbol of the power of brute force. Uncontrolled, the result is destruction.  The end of the chapter ends grimly since one of the small boys is presumed to have died in the fire. The boys learn that fire is power; used unwisely, it can only lead to death and destruction.


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