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The main conflict is a character vs. character external conflict: Holmes vs. Clay.
Conflicts are internal or external. An internal conflict is one a character has with him or her self.
In this story, the main conflict is an external one between Holmes and John Clay. Clay does not know what Holmes is chasing him, and in fact Holmes does not know that Clay is robbing a bank until Mr. Wilson comes to hire him.
I made inquiries as to this mysterious assistant and found that I had to deal with one of the coolest and most daring criminals in London. (p. 18)
The conflict between Holmes and Clay is an external conflict. In the end, each agrees that the other was a worthy opponent.
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