In the short stories, "The Storyteller" by Saki and "The Stolen Party" by Lilian Heker, how do the authors treat the conflict of "man versus man"?

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M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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The conflict of "man versus man" entails that the main character will undergo an obstacle or challenge that is caused by a secondary or minor character. The main character, as a result, is rendered a victim of the choices of this said secondary/minor character, who will then become the rival, or "antagonist" of the main character, which is the protagonist.

In the storyteller, the main character is the bachelor. His conflict is directly against the aunt of three children who are sharing his cart while he is traveling by railway carriage. The aunt of the children has an inability to control them and, as a result, the children are rowdy and loud, which really upsets the bachelor.

The way that Saki treats the conflict is by confronting the main character, the bachelor, against his antagonist, the aunt. This confrontation consists on having each of the two characters tell a story (at different points in the story) to the children with the aims of entertaining them.

While the aunt's sanctimonious story bores the children even more, the story that the main character tells the children is highly entertaining. Ironically, and in typical Saki style, the story told by the bachelor carries a message that goes directly against the good-doer story told by the aunt. The bachelor's message to the children is that being a good kid does not always save you from getting into some big trouble; that perhaps it is fine to just be a normal kid and try not to stand out too much so that you may be rendered vulnerable to danger.

Hence, Saki allows his main character to get away as the winner of the man versus man conflict by teaching a lesson to the aunt while spicing up the psyche of the children.

In the story "The Stolen Party" , Lilian Heker the main conflict is between Rosaura and her mother, as well as between Rosaura and the society that surrounds her. The daughter of a maid, 9 year-old Rosaura has been invited to the high society birthday party of her friend Luciana. The conflict between Rosaura and her mother arises from the fact that Rosaura feels at the same level with Luciana, who also treats Rosaura as her confidant and best friend. The conflict starts with Rosaura's mother's worry about her daughter attending Luciana's party. This bestows upon Rosaura a feeling of inadequacy that she really does not want to experience.

For the second conflict, Rosaura versus society Heker places Rosaura in an awkward situation, where her social role is basically questioned again, but by one of Luciana's cousins:

"So where do you know her from?" said the girl, getting impatient. .. "I'm the daughter of the employee," she said.  Her mother had said very clearly: "If someone asks, you say you're  the daughter of the employee; that's all." She also told her to add:   "And proud of it."

Rosaura cannot identify herself because, apparently, the fact that she is the daughter of a maid has automatically given her an unwanted identity in the eyes of society. Hence, Heker places Rosaura in the impossible situation of having to battle the thoughts and opinions of others, which directly go against her own. Moreover, she also endures humiliation from a dominant group that misunderstands and under-appreciates others. In a dramatic contrast from Saki’s story, Heker’s main character does not fare successful at battling the obstacles of society; this is because society has done its best to suppress and ignore the dignity of the poor.


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