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

Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

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Effective and fire-related quotations from the early chapters of Lord of the Flies


Effective fire-related quotations from the early chapters of Lord of the Flies include: "The flames, as though they were a kind of wild life, crept as a jaguar creeps on its belly," and "We’ve got to have rules and obey them. After all, we’re not savages. We’re English, and the English are best at everything." These lines illustrate the fire's unpredictable nature and the boys' initial attempts at order.

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What are four effective quotations from chapters 1-3 of Lord of the Flies?

Chapters 1-3 of Lord of the Flies serve to introduce the characters, themes, and conflicts of Golding's novel.

  • Chapter One

Quote #1

Then the creature stepped from mirage on to clear sand, and they saw that the darkness was not all shadow but mostly clothing. The creature was a party of boys, marching approximately in step in two parallel lines and dressed in strangely eccentric clothing. 

This passage exemplifies the theme of "Appearance vs. Reality" and presages the boys' further problems with perception in the novel as their unconscious fears conjure beasts and cause them to commit irrational and savage acts. 

Quote #2

They knew very well why he hadn't: because of the enormity of the knife descending and cutting into living flesh; because of the unbearable blood. "I was going to," said Jack. He was ahead of them, and they could not see his face. "I was choosing a place. Next time--!"

This passage is significant in developing the characterization of Jack as initially a civilized boy who will later descend into savagery. As a screaming pig comes near Jack and he has his knife posed for attack, he fails to strike at the pig. The boys know that Jack has not done so because he has contemplated the brutality of such an act; at this point he is too civilized. But, he vows that the next time he will not hesitate.

  • Chapter Two

Quote #3

"We want to be rescued; and of course we shall be rescued....the Queen's got a picture of this island.

And sooner or later a ship will put in here. It might even be Daddy's ship. So you see, sooner or later, we shall be rescued."
....The assembly was lifted toward safety by his words....Ralph flushed, looking sideways at Piggy's open admiration, and then the other way at Jack who was smirking....

This passage, which develops the characterization of Ralph, exemplifies Ralph's natural leadership qualities. Although his statement that they will be rescued is not supported with any evidence, he still inspires confidence in the boys, although Jack's smirk suggests problems may follow.

  • Chapter Three

Quote #4

They faced each other on the bright beach, astonished at the rub of feeling. Ralph looked away first, pretending interest in a group of littluns on the sand. From beyond the platform came the shouting of the hunters in the swimming pool. On the end of the platform, Piggy was lying flat, looking down into the brilliant water.
"People don't help much."
He wanted to explain how people were never quite what you thought they were.

This passage is significant in the further development of the characters of Piggy, Ralph and Jack as well as being an introduction of the personal conflicts between Ralph and Jack, whereas in the previous chapters they have gotten along fairly well. Now, however, Jack begins to want to spend his time actively hunting rather than helping other construct shelters.

In addition, this passage also exemplifies the theme of "Appearances vs. Reality" with Piggy's wish to tell Ralph that Jack is not who Ralph thinks he is. 

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What are some fire-related quotes in Lord of the Flies?

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 to put on war-paint and be a savage. But we must keep the fire burning. The fire's the most important thing on the island, because, because--'He paused again and the silence became full of doubt and wonder. Piggy whispered urgently. 'Rescue.'"

Notably, Ralph can't even remember the reason he is keeping the fire burning, and the boys eventually let the fire burn out when a ship is passing. Ralph says, "If I blow the conch and they don't come back; then we've had it. We shan't keep the fire going. We'll be like animals. We'll never be rescued." The fire and the conch are the boys' connection to rescue and to civilization. When the fire burns out, it's a symbol that they no longer care about being rescued and have descended into brutality and chaos.

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What are some fire-related quotes in Lord of the Flies?

Early in the novel, Ralph comments that they must make a signal fire in order for them to be rescued. He hopes that a passing ship will notice the smoke and stop to pick them up. As soon as they successfully light their first fire, Ralph yells for the boys to grab more wood to feed the flames. Golding writes,

"Life became a race with the fire and the boys scattered through the upper forest. To keep a clean flag of flame flying on the mountain was the immediate end and no one looked further" (56).

The signal fire is a symbol of hope, rescue, and civilization throughout the novel. The boys' focus on and enthusiasm for maintaining the signal fire illustrates their initial affinity for civility.

In Chapter 5, Ralph holds a meeting to discuss how the boys are not completing the tasks agreed upon during the assemblies. After commenting on the shabby huts, lack of water in the coconuts, and the location of where the boys are relieving themselves, he says,

"The fire is the most important thing on the island. How can we ever be rescued except by luck, if we don’t keep a fire going? Is a fire too much for us to make?...Look at us! How many are we? And yet we can’t keep a fire going to make smoke. Don’t you understand? Can’t you see we ought to—ought to die before we let the fire out?" (Golding 31).

Ralph is pleading with the boys to focus on the importance of having a signal fire, but they do not share the same feelings. The inability to maintain a signal fire correlates with the boys' inability to create a civil society on the island. Their indifferent feelings about maintaining a signal fire reflect their gradual descent into savagery.

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What are some quotes from Lord of the Flies that show leadership?

There are a number of quotes which indicate leadership in some way:

Chapter 1:

Ralph continued to blow short, penetrating blasts. Piggy moved among the crowd, asking names and frowning to remember them. The children gave him the same simple obedience that they had given to the men with megaphones.

In the above instance, Ralph's leadership is recognised because he is the one blowing the conch. The boys identify him as leader since this is what they had become accustomed to - those with megaphones are to be obeyed. The conch has the same power as the megaphones had. Piggy displays a natural kind of leadership, borne of his pragmatic and logical approach to things as well as his genuine concern for others, as illustrated in the extract. If things had been different, he would have been followed by the boys.

The boy who controlled them was dressed in the same way though his cap badge was golden. When his party was about ten yards from the platform he shouted an order and they halted, gasping, sweating, swaying in the fierce light.

In this extract, Jack's authority stems from the fact that his cap is golden which indicates his authority. He is also ahead of the choir, leading them, an obvious indication of his status as their leader.

Jack started to protest but the clamor changed from the general wish for a chief to an election by acclaim of Ralph himself. None of the boys could have found good reason for this; what intelligence had been shown was traceable to Piggy while the most obvious leader was Jack. But there was a stillness about Ralph as he sat that marked him out: there was his size, and attractive appearance; and most obscurely, yet most powerfully, there was the conch. The being that had blown that, had sat waiting for them on the platform with the delicate thing balanced on his knees, was set apart.

It is clear from the extract that Ralph, in the boys' eyes, seemed a better prospect as leader than Jack, mostly because he had the conch.

In Chapter two Ralph addresses the boys in their first official meeting after the initial gathering. He leads the discussion and states the importance of the conch. He makes the first rule on the island - that the conch is a symbol of authority and should be respected. Also, he is the only one who can intervene - he emphasises his authority as leader.

“That’s what this shell’s called. I’ll give the conch to the next person to speak. He can hold it when he’s speaking.”
“Look–”“And he won’t be interrupted: Except by me.”

Ralph's leadership finds further expression when he states what should be done on the island to be rescued.

“There’s another thing. We can help them to find us. If a ship comes near the island they may not notice us. So we must make smoke on top of the mountain. We must make a fire.”

Once Ralph's authority has been defined and accepted, he continues to lead the boys until Jack eventually challenges him. This results  in Jack forming a breakaway group, consisting of the choirboys and others. The only reason Jack's leadership was accepted was because he had offered the boys a more exciting alternative - hunting and because the boys feared him. And so Ralph's dominance was broken.

“Hunting,” he said. He sized them up. Each of them wore the remains of a black cap and ages ago they had stood in two demure rows and their voices had been the song of angels.
“We’ll hunt. I’m going to be chief.”

This was the moment at which Jack became leader of a small breakaway group boys who would challenge Ralph. their actions, under Jack's leadership, would eventually create chaos and result in the shattering of the shell and Piggy's death.

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What are three important quotes quotes that can relate to Simon in Lord of the Flies?

"You knew, didn't you? I'm part of you? Close, close, close! I'm the reason why it's no go? Why things are what they are?" (143)

The Lord of the Flies mocks Simon's perception; he understands earlier than all the other boys on the island the true nature  of the beast.  As a character, Simon represents insight and understanding.  Throughout the novel, he seems to appreciate and understand events in a way that the other boys cannot.  For example, he tells Ralph in chapter seven:

"You'll get back to where you came from" (111).

Even when Ralph insists that Simon is "batty," Simon just shakes his head and reaffirms his belief that Ralph will "get back all right" (111).  This scene between Ralph and Simon reveals Simon's good-hearted belief and acceptance of Ralph as well as emphasizing Simon's intuition and foresight.  Later, as Simon discovers the true nature of the beast on the mountain, his good will becomes more evident as his first thoughts are of letting the other boys know:

"As Simon thought this, he turned to the poor broken thing that sat stinking by his side.  The beast was harmless and horrible; and the news must reach the others as soon as possible" (147).

Simon remains one of the most tragic characters of the novel, because of his good-will, open-minded acceptance of the other boys, and his gentle connection with the nature of the island; when the boys struggles to warn the others of his discovery and impart to them the great truth of the beast on the island, he is mistakenly killed for his efforts by Jack's savage dance.  Golding uses Simon as a bearer of truth and insight; in many ways, his death becomes symbolic of the savage's ignorance, their willful killing without knowledge or insight. 

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