In The Liar does James suffer internal conflict?  

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In The Liar, James does indeed suffer internal conflict in the the expression of a man versus himself conflict. Some of the sources of James' internal conflict are a perceived similarity to his father, who is a weak, silly, frightened man. James understands his father, while others are only angered by him, because James relates to the paralyzing fear that his father is capable of feeling, for instance at the campsite when the bear appeared, and to his father's use of word play to relieve his feelings of fear and anxiety. James feels these traits are roots in his own propensity to tell morbid (unwholesomely gloomy) lies.

James suffers another internal conflict after he begins seeing Dr. Murphy and, at one time, hears Dr. Murphy describe the nature of another patient who as basically unlikable because of his self-absorption and dishonesty. James is driven to compare himself to this description and realizes that he doesn't want to be the sort of man that this description fits. In accord with this same sentiment and in the hope of bringing James out of self-absorption, James' mother sends James to visit his brother in Los Angeles where he works with people suffering from misfortune.

It is on the trip, when the bus breaks down in frightening inclement weather, that James finds the truth of his propensity for telling tales. In order to comfort the alarmed and worried passengers, James puts his lying skills to work and tells an uplifting and edifying tale about helping Tibetan refugees, even singing in what seems to be an inspired and holy Tibetan language. James is liberated from his internal conflicts as he learns the positive and valuable side of gift for word play.

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The Liar

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