http://www.maplib.net/map.php?id=8616#Fire is significant throughout the Lord Of The Flies, by William Golding. Fire is created in many places and has different meanings throughout the book. Characters like Ralph and Jack have different views on the fire and what the boys should use it for. The fire is most significant at the mountain, Jack's camp, the small fire at Ralph's camp, the big fire that gets them rescued, and the burning bush on the beach.
One of the ways fire is used is as a symbol of balance between destruction and survival. Fire is also associated with Ralph, who is the most balanced out of himself, Piggy, and Jack. Jack is associated with the knife, which symbolizes masculinity and power. Piggy is associated with the conch, which symbolizes femininity and delicacy. Therefore, Ralph's association with fire is appropriate because he is neither all male nor all female, and the fire is neither completely destructive nor completely helpful for survival.The fire on the mountain is symbolic of rescue. Since Ralph wants to be rescued by using a fire, he is symbolic of both femininity-being rescued- and masculinity-using a potential danger to be rescued. As it turns out, the signal becomes destructive as it engulfs the boy with the mulberry birthmark. "Piggy glanced nervously into hell...'We got to let that burn out now. And that was our firewood.'"(44-5) Piggy sees the fire in a negative way in this scene. He sees it as dangerous and something that is getting out of control. Jack's obsession with killing a pig becomes a problem as the first time Jack and the hunters hunt and kill a pig, there is no one to watch the fire. The fire burns out and Ralph sees a ship. Ralph rushes to start the fire but is too late."You let the fire go out" (70) yells Ralph.
The motif of light vs dark is a significant part of Lord Of The Flies, and fire plays a large role in that motif. Fire is literally a source of light on the island. Without the fire, the boys are left in darkness. Fire also symbolizes the struggle between good vs evil throughout the book. From the start fire is shown to be productive, which starts the signal fire, but also extremely destructive when the mulberry faced boy is engulfed by it. Ralph's intent is to use the fire to be rescued, as a source of heat, and to cook food with which are all good motives. However, Jack's motives for stealing the fire are based on a need for power. His misuse of fire leads to the death of piggy as well as the island becoming one giant fire. Fire, when used as a symbol for light vs dark, also represents the loss of the boys' humanity. Throughout the book the fire becomes more and more destructive, and the boys become more and more like savages with it. In the end, Ralph is the only one still referred to by name, and is the only one who has not used the fire for destruction. The rest of the boys are referred to as savages, which emphasizes their loss of humanity in comparison to Ralph. Ralph sees the fire as his chance to get back to civilization and this is ruined by Jack. The arguments between Ralph and Jack include arguments about fire which leads to the destruction of the tribe. The fire as it represents hope and rescue also represents destruction.
Eventually, as the tension grows, Jack decides to start his own tribe on the beach near where Castle Rock is. They decide to raid Ralph's camp for fire. The only reason they use fire is to roast pig. This often time leads to there chant. This is symbolic of how they have become savages. The savagery in this part is displayed through their actions and reasons. They take Ralph's fire so he can not even make another one because Jack will take it. Also, they use the fire to roast the sow which is the only female left on the island. They leave her head as a tribute. This fire represents their savagery as they start to worship beasts and reenact the death of the pig leading to Simon's death.
When Jack attracts most of the boys, Ralph has a small camp of four boys on a small section of the beach. The only boys are Ralph, Piggy, and SamnEric. They know that they can not have a fire on the mountain; so Piggy suggests they try to maintain a small fire on the beach. This is symbolic of whats remaining of civilization. The last bit of good, or society that is untouched by Jack's and Roger's savagery."We'll raid them and take fire"(136) Jack says this as he is about steal fire from Ralph's camp. This fire does not last long as later that night a few of the savages lead by Jack invade Ralph's camp and steal the fire and Piggy's glasses. This marks the beginning of the end of knowledge, good, and society. The next day the boys go to Jack at castle rock to tell them off, and to get Piggy's specs. The only problem is when they get there Roger kills Piggy, and Samneric are captured. This is the end for Ralph there is no more fire for him, and he has lost all of his companions.
The next morning Ralph retrieves information that Jack and the savages are going to hunt and kill him from Samneric. Ralph is hiding in a thicket and the savages can not reach him. "He was coughing and smearing the paint about his eyes...as he tried to see through the increasing smoke."(195) Jack finally decides to try to burn him out. As Jack builds this fire to get Ralph out of the thicket he creates alot of smoke. A naval ship in the distance sees it and comes to save them. This fire is significant of there rescue. This is what Ralph and Piggy have been hoping for from the beginning and ironically it is started by Jack. When Ralph is approaching the beach while on the run from the savages, a bush to his side bursts into flame.This bush is a symbol of the burning bush of the old testament. In Exodus, moses stumbles upon the burning bush right before reaching the top of mount sinai and being spoken to by god who is the "deus ex machina." Ralph passes the burning bush right before stumbling onto the beach where he finds the naval officer, who is also the "deus ex machina." The beach is meant to play the same role as Mount Sinai here because both as sandy locations. Also, Ralph is similar to moses here because he is leading the boys on the island to the naval officer much like Moses lead the Israelites through the desert to talk to god. There is also similiarity in that Ralph did not realize he was running towards the officer, nor did Moses know that he was going to speak with god on mount sinai when they were originally exiled. The fire is also relevant in reference to the story of Adam and Eve. When Adam and Eve are commanded to leave the garden of Eden, there are angels wielding flaming swords guarding it. When the boys leave the island they leave behind the fire that was started on it. It is surely no coincidence that Ralph is the one who discovers the naval officer either. As stated before, Ralph is the only boy left on the island who is still humane, and this is similar to Moses, who was the only Jew who was not to be forced into slavery. Moses was the only one who could lead the Israelites out of Egypt, much like Ralph is the only one who could lead the boys to the naval officer.
Lord Of The Flies, by William Golding is written with heavy symbolism. The fire is significant of both destruction, and the hope of getting rescued. It represents the struggle between good vs evil as well as the inevitable failure of civility on the island. The fire is also used in many biblical references. These are all ways fire is used as a symbol in Lord Of The Flies.
The Island >