Topic for discussion: Lord of the Flies
I love this book. It can be read on so many levels, from a captivating and compelling adventure, to a psychological study of human nature, to an allegory of all the elements of civilization.
I like to think of the fire as a symbol for education, creative pursuits, even--if you want to go that route--spirituality. In the case of education, it's an activity that you engage in for the long-term benefits of it. You don't always see the payoff immediately, but it has value.
I can also see it as representing the arts in civilization, in that arts funding is typically the first thing to be sacrificed to budgetary cutbacks. Art or creativity may not put food on the table or money in people's pockets--which would be Jack's argument (i.e. that hunting is more necessary for survival than keeping the fire lit)--but what would life be without it? Creative pursuits set us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom, and how can civilization be salvaged without them? In the same way, humans are unique in building fires, and without the smoke, there is no hope for the rescue of the boys in the book.
Finally, if you want to look at it from a religious (specifically Christian) perspective, keeping the fire lit at the expense of hunting could be a metaphor for rejecting worldly or carnal activities to lead a holy life, which will pay off in being "saved" at the end of your earthly experience. Think about it: sending up smoke to signal ships that may or may not be there could be compared with prayer. The irony is that Jack is the one who was a choirboy, but he is the one who views keeping the fire lit as a waste of time.
What do you think? How did you view some of the symbols in the book?