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To me, there are two major conflicts within John during this story.
First, there is conflict in his heart or his soul about going across the river to the forbidden Dead Place. He solves this conflict simply by mastering his fear. He just decides that he will not let the fear stop him.
Second, there is a conflict within him as to what lesson he is going to take from what he sees in the Dead Place. Will it make him lose faith when he learns that the gods were really just people? He resolves this, instead, by having faith in people and saying that they will learn to build again.
The conflict of the story is that John must over come his fears and go to the city. This is needed for him to become a priest. He must go explore the city.
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