In the novel Lord of the Flies by William Golding, one of the main elements of the plot is a fire created by the boys. While the fire’s foremost purpose is for rescue, it also represents other underlying symbolistic themes. Order is one of the first things established once the fire is built. The fire’s initial purpose, to get the kids rescued, represents hope. Also, the very being of the fire represents the idea of life.
From the very beginning of the novel, Ralph is determined to keep a signal fire going, in case a ship passes near to the island. That’s all well and good, until the first signal fire the boys light begins burning out of control, and at least one boy is missing. As Piggy tells Jack, “You got your small fire all right” (2.210). The fire thus becomes a symbol, paradoxically, of both hope of rescue and of destruction.
Ironically, it is because of a fire that Jack lights at the end of the novel—in his attempt to hunt and kill Ralph—that the boys are rescued. And it makes sense. If the boys’ world is just a symbol for the real world, then they’re not being rescued at all; they’re just going on to a larger scale of violence—to grow up into soldiers getting sent off to war. Hence, rescue equals destruction.
The Signal Fire is a representation of commonsense and rescue from immorality. When the signal fire can no longer be lit, because Jack stole Piggy’s specs that light it, its beacon of hope and knowledge is no longer present to guide Ralph who must then be constantly reminded by Piggy about what is right.
The Fire s Relationship Towards Civilization.
In Lord of the Flies, the fire is a main symbol through out the story. It represents amount of civilized strength left within the boys. When the fire burns stronger, it means that they are getting closer to society and when the fire is not burning or is weak, they too are weakening. The signal fire becomes an indicator of the boys connection to civilization. Throughout the book, the fire is a key symbol that means not only rescue, but hope and civilization. Even the forest fire in the end of the story, that was meant to destroy, ended up being the boy s key to rescue. In the beginning of this book, one of the most important parts is when Jack let the fire go out to go hunting.
Although hunting is not necessarily barbaric or a loss of civilization, it is still what leads up to the loss of civilization. When Ralph realizes the power of the fire and admits that if everyone does not do their duty and cooperate in keeping the fire going, all hopes in contacting civilization outside are shattered. The fire is their only chance of survival and if it goes out, their destined to stay on the island forever. As long as the fire is well maintained, the boys show a desire to return to their civilization, but when the fire burns low or goes out, the boys lose sight of their wish to be rescued, because they have accepted their barbaric lives on the island.