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There are two main types of conflict in literature. One is an internal conflict, or a decision that one has to make. The other is an external conflict, which is with an outside force. The two most common external conflicts are between characters and between a character and society. Other external conflicts can be with nature, technology, or the supernatural.
In Lullaby, both internal and external conflicts are presented. The story begins with Ayah thinking back over her life and considering her choices. Whenever we rehash memories, there is an internal conflict present. She wonders if she could have done things differently. Difficulty in making choices, and second-guessing choices, are internal conflicts. Unfortunately, there is no real way to resolve a memory, and internal conflicts like these are only resolved once a decision is made.
There are many external conflicts in this story. In the present, there is a character vs. character conflict between Ayah and her husband, because he is drinking away their government checks. There is a character vs. society conflict throughout the story between Ayah and the white world. This never really gets resolved, because at the end Ayah is still struggling as her husband dies due to these influences. Ayah’s conflicts with society include her inability to speak English and her lack of understanding of the white world’s ways and representatives, which continue to the end. Ayah also has a character vs. character conflict with her children, because they do not have a real relationship and do not understand each other. These are resolved, unfortunately, by her permanent estrangement with them.
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