An Element


An Element’s Presence Felt Essay, Research Paper

An Element’s Presence Felt

Throughout this novel, “The Lord of the Flies”, fire serves many functions both real and symbolic. Fire was a form of wealth and power; it represented maturity and responsibility and was the one thing which all the boys had in common. When reflecting apon this novel it is imperitive to witness how important a role fire actually plays.

One of the things that fire represented in this novel was that it could be considered a form of wealth and power. Of the boys, those that were considered important and dominant were the ones who controlled the fire. In turn, those who controlled the fire were followed by the others, so fire could also represent leadership. Many times jealousy reared its head over there fire; something quite common in our society in terms of money, so that demonstrates how fire could be viewed as a form of wealth. It’s something of immense value, so much in fact that if necessary one would kill to obtain it. Control over the fire was a key issue however fire could not always be controlled. In fact at times it showed its incredibly wild nature and caused mass destruction on the island.

Maturity and responsibility were some other key symbols of fire. Keeping the fire lit in hopes of being rescued was part of a plan devised by the elder members of the group (Ralph in particular). This point supported by Ralph when he stated,

“There’s another thing. We can help them to find us. 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.” (pg. 47).

Despite their age, the boys knew the importance of fire and how essential it was for their survival. Jack showed both responsibility and leadership qualities when he said,

“Ralph-I’ll split up the choir-my hunters, that is-into groups and we’ll be responsible for keeping the fire going” (pg. 47).

They were like a small nation; one that had to develop laws and a small system of government to keep order and prevent chaos. This, their elections, etc, were some of the adult situations they had to adapt and use in their new lifestyle on the island.

Whatever the situation may be, fire always remained the one thing all the boys had in common. The fire had to be kept going lit if they were to be rescued. This statement supported when Ralph lashed out at Jack,

“There was a ship. Out there. You said you’d keep the fire going and you let it out! They might have seen us. We might have gone home-” (pg. 76-77).

Keeping the fire going was a common goal amongst the boys and they all worked together to see that it would be done. They all needed fire for basic survival and its importance was well known among them all. Despite whomever had control of the fire, the rest of the boys follwed them, so thusly this determined temporary leadership on the island.

To summarize the above, the fire’s importance in this novel is clear; both for what it represented and what it is. It was responsible for keeping the boys unified, as well as tearing them apart. Fire brought adult situations to the table which the boys had to deal with and couldn’t ignore. It helped sustain life yet it also caused mass destruction. Whether viewed in a positive or negative light, its presence was surely felt nonetheless.

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