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A Symbol In Lord Of The Flies

Essay, Research Paper

The symbol of fire is used throughout the entire book, Lord of the Flies. Although it is

mentioned only briefly throughout, the significance of these occurrences has a strong

effect on the characters, book, and the reader. The author, William Golding, uses the

fire to show the status of the people on the island. The fire is first mentioned in chapter

three when Ralph decides that it is needed if they wish to ever be rescued. It is again

reintroduced in chapter eight when Piggy suggests that it should be moved to the beach

on which they are inhabiting. Fire is later mentioned in chapters ten and eleven as the

central conflict in the book at that time. This symbol is finally mentioned in chapter

twelve as it engulfs the entire island. Golding uses fire as a symbol to represent hope and

commonsense. He also uses the fire as a symbol from their absence from inevitable


Fire is first introduced by Ralph as a means to communicate with the outside

world saying they need help and need to be rescued. He says ?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.? He and Jack soon come to the realization that they have nothing to light the

fire with; instantly they notice that they can use Piggy?s glasses. Piggy soon becomes

angry and is critical of how they use and maintain it. After Jack has agreed to keeping

the fire lit along with his choir boys, he ascends to the mountain. One day while a ship

is seen floating by the fire is not lit. Ralph becomes very mad at Jack even though he has

caught a pig for food. The fire is a gift form Piggy to the inhabitants of the island. It

represents the hope of being rescued.

Later in chapter 8, after Jack has seceded from Ralph?s tribe, Piggy suggests that

the fire should be moved to the beach. While the fire is being built many of Ralph?s

followers leave to Jack?s tribe. They build the fire by the bathing pool and light it when

they are done. This shows Piggy?s commonsense because their was no point in having to

go so far to keep the fire lit. It also helps to keep Ralph?s mind on something other than

the bad things that have come of Jack and secession. The Ralph represents the bathing

pool because he is always trying to stay clean and the bathing pool is where people go to

stay clean. The Piggy represents the fire because it was his gift to the island. Putting the

fire next to the bathing pool represents the close bond between Ralph and Piggy.

Again in chapter 10 fire is mentioned as the major conflict between Ralph and

Jack. With their tribe depleted, Ralph?s followers start to lack interest in the fire and the

hope of being rescued. One night while Ralph?s tribe is asleep Jack?s tribe comes over

and steals Piggy?s glasses and the power to make fire. Ralph and Piggy go to Jack and

say that they would have gladly shared the fire with him, all he had to do was ask. By

stealing the power to make fire Ralph has lost the power to make logical decisions and

the power to lead. When Piggy says that he will share the fire he truly believes that this

fact will bring the two tribes together and stop the warfare. This is proven false when

Jack refuses to cooperate.

The symbol of fire in this book shows the relationship of Ralph and Jack by the

placement of the fire. It also represented the hope of being rescued and as soon as Jack

gained possession of it, all hope was lost for Ralph and his tribe. The fire represented

commonsense to Ralph all throughout the book and when he lost it he lost the ability to

make logical decisions which would have saved his life. This proves the point that the

fire represents the status of the people on the island


Lord of the Flies