Fire Symbolism In Lord Of The Flies

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The Flame of Civilization and Destruction A fire can be reassuring in one context, yet lethal in another. People use it to roast marshmallows or to warm up to on cold nights. The noise of the wood crackling beneath the heat gives comfort to others. Without full control of it, the fire can escape its home and destroy everything in it’s path. Wildfires have destroyed homes and cities within days. A fire can represent two ideas: civilization and savagery. William Golding explains these ideas in The Lord of the Flies. He shows that the fire the boys use for a rescue signal, can also destroy or kill if it is given the chance. Although Golding has several symbols he applies to convey his message, he uses fire to express civilization to counterpart the idea of savagery. In The Lord of the Flies, Ralph makes it necessary from their …show more content…
Ralph makes it clear that the boys need to build a fire for rescue. What they do not understand is that without certain control of the fire, it can be unmanageable. After building the fire, they witness that “beneath the capering boys a quarter of a mile square of forest was savage with smoke and flame” (44). Initially, the boys create the fire for rescue. Instead, they burn down half the island and kill one of the boys. The fire that is being used as a signal for rescue turns into a symbol for destruction and savagery. After splitting from the group, Jack attempts to hunt and kill Ralph so that Jack can be the real chief. To do this, Jack “smoked him out and set the island on fire” (197). Ironically, it is the fire intended to kill Ralph that got the boys rescued by the naval officer. In reality, the boys are not being rescued at all. The island is a mirror image of what is going on in the real world: a war. The boys are just being transported into another version of the island. Thus, rescue and destruction are represented as the same

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