What does the fire in Lord of the Flies represent?
Fire is a complicated symbol in Lord of the Flies. It has several different interpretations, which represent various elements found within the story. Fire can symbolically represent rescue, hope, and the boys' link to civilization, which is illustrated by the signal fire on the top of the mountain. At the beginning of the story, Ralph uses Piggy's glasses to start the signal fire and places Jack's hunters in charge of maintaining the signal fire. The smoke from the signal fire is meant to catch the attention of passing ships and result in the boys being rescued. Unfortunately, Jack allows the signal fire to go out, and the boys believe the beast inhabits the top of the mountain, which prevents them from relighting the signal fire.
In addition to representing a link to the civilized world and the boys' hope of rescue, fire also symbolically represents warmth, comfort, and survival. During the dark nights, the boys find comfort by the fire and also use it to cook the pig meat. Without the fire, Jack and his hunters cannot hold feasts and eat pig meat. Therefore, Jack and his hunters resort to stealing fire from Ralph's tribe and eventually take Piggy's glasses, which are used to spark a flame. Given the importance of fire, one could argue that it also symbolically represents power and authority. By the end of the story, Jack and his savages possess the ability to start fires, which represents his position of power.
Fire also symbolically represents destruction and the dangers of the natural world. In chapter 2, the boys discover the danger associated with fire when they accidentally start a forest fire, which claims the life of a littlun. At the end of the story, Jack and his savages attempt to smoke Ralph out of his hiding spot and also start a massive forest fire that almost destroys the island. Fortunately, the British Navy sees the massive flames and rescues the boys.