Lord of the Flies by William Golding

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Lord Of The Flies Fire Quotes

What are some quotes about the fire in the novel Lord of the Flies?

The fire is an important symbol in The Lord of the Flies. It represents civility and the boys' hopes for rescue, but, in the case of the forest fire, it also demonstrates how the boys can quickly lose control over a powerful and deadly force.

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Olen Bruce eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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At first, the boys, under the direction of Ralph, attempt to light a fire as a signal to passing ships. Here is the description of their attempt from Chapter 2:

"On one side the air was cool, but on the other the fire thrust out a savage arm of heat that crinkled hair on the instant. Boys who felt the evening wind on their damp faces paused to enjoy the freshness of it and then found they were exhausted. They flung themselves down in the shadows that lay among the shattered rocks. The beard of flame diminished quickly; then the pile fell inwards with a soft, cindery sound, and sent a great tree of sparks upwards that leaned away and drifted downwind. The boys lay, panting like dogs."

Their attempt to keep the fire going and to generate smoke is fruitless, as they find it's impossible to keep the fire burning at that level of intensity. They are quickly exhausted from the effort, but they try to keep the fire going in the increasingly vain hope of rescue. 

Piggy notices that the fire has burnt out of control. The author describes the raging fire in the following way:

"Smoke was rising here and there among the creepers that festooned the dead or dying trees. As they watched, a flash of fire appeared at the root of one wisp, and then the smoke thickened. Small flames stirred at the trunk of a tree and crawled away through leaves and brushwood, dividing and increasing. One patch touched a tree trunk and scrambled up like a bright squirrel. The smoke increased, sifted, rolled outwards. The squirrel leapt on the wings of the wind and clung to another standing tree, eating downwards. Beneath the dark canopy of leaves and smoke the fire laid hold on the forest and began to gnaw. Acres of black and yellow smoke rolled steadily toward the sea. At the sight of the flames and the irresistible course of the fire, the boys broke into shrill, excited cheering."

The fire at first seems to rally the boys to action, but, as Piggy notes, the fire is out of control and is consuming all their firewood. They have spent themselves with the first effort to try to be rescued, and their misspent energies do not bode well for their chances at rescue.

Ralph continues to try to keep the fire burning, even as Jack and his followers branch off into a rival band of hunters. Ralph tells the little boys who still follow him:

"'The fire's the most important thing. Without the fire we can't be rescued. I'd like...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 878 words.)

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