In the short story "The Catbird Seat," what is the deep conflict between the protagonist and antagonist?

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William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The protagonist would have to be Ulgine Barrows, since she comes in from the outside and upsets the status quo. Erwin Martin, the antagonist, doesn't like her from the beginning because they are such different personality types. She is loud, aggressive, and insensitive. He is quiet, retiring, and shy. The biggest conflict revolves around his files, which are of great importance to him and which she is threatening to damage by reorganizing them. The files are the MacGuffin, the bone of contention. A conflict in a story has to be about something specific, a MacGuffin. Martin is fighting to save his precious files and filing system from an intruder. He does so in a comical way, but the conflict is very serious. There is even a possibility that he could lose his job in a reorganization scheme, and he is getting old. He has been with the company for many years. He could lose his pension and have a very hard time finding another job. Mrs. Barrows is friendly but ruthless--a horrible woman!


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