Ralph and Piggy Relationship in Lord Of The Flies (Essay Example)


The meaning of fire changes over time as the boys begin to succumb to the darkness within themselves. At first the boys build a fire in hope of rescue after Ralph explains that, “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”(51). They use Piggy’s specs as burning glasses to produce a flame, here fire is a result of critical thinking and also signifies, much like the conch, a beginning of civilization that the boys create on the island. However the fire soon becomes out of control, “the heart of flame leapt nimbly across the gap between the trees and then went swinging and flaring along the whole row of them”(61), causing a portion of the island to be destroyed along with the death of a little’lun. In this instance, fire is a symbol of death and destruction, foreshadowing how fire will be used in the future. Before the incident, Jack volunteers himself along with his choir boys, to maintain the fire and make smoke if needed. But when a ship is spotted on the horizon it is found that Jack had abandoned his duties in favor of hunting, “there was a ship. Out there. You said you’d keep the fire going and you let it out!” He took a step toward Jack, who turned and faced him. “They might have seen us. We might have gone home—” This was too bitter for Piggy, who forgot his timidity in the agony of his loss. He began to cry out, shrilly: “You and your blood, Jack Merridew! You and your hunting! We might have gone home—”(99).  No fire means not getting rescued, when Jack neglects the fire, it shows how he is more interested in hunting instead of his responsibilities making him an adversary to a civilized society. This character trait is also shown when he leaves to create his own tribe, leaving a small number of boys including Ralph, Piggy, and Simon to upkeep signal fire by themselves, “without the fire we can’t be rescued. So we must stay by the fire and make smoke”(204). The fire which is maintained by the small number of boys, represents the last of the successful society that was once a possibility for the boys. While Ralph’s small but civilized group continues to sustain the fire, Jack's tribe hunts for fun, they hide behind their painted faces and participate in savage rituals that only increase their bloodthirstiness . Jack’s tribe eventually murders Simon, and soon Piggy also dies leaving Ralph alone. The signal fire is completely abandoned, showing that the boys don’t care to be rescued and have completely accepted a life of savagery on the island, they set the forest on fire to draw him out of the thicket. The wildfire they create is representative of the wild nature of the boys, who hunt Ralph for no reason, and setting the jungle on fire with no consideration of the possible consequences. As Ralph runs for his life “He could hear them crashing in the undergrowth and on the left was the hot, bright thunder of the fire”(287). Ralph meets an officer on the beach after barely escaping the burning forest, “we saw your smoke. What have you been doing? Having a war or something?”(288) . The first fire made on the island was so the boys could get rescued, which tragically got out of control and resulted in death and destruction. The last fire the boys made on the island, was intended for death and destruction, but resulted in rescue. The irony of the first and last fire, as well as the role fire plays in between symbolize how a potentially successful civilization crumbled over time as the boys are consumed in darkness and savagery.

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