What are examples of internal and external conflicts in "The Lovely Bones"?

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linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Susie's mother, Abigail Salmon, can be used as an example of both internal and external conflicts.

Abigail struggles internally with dissatisfaction with her life. She loves her husband and children, but she does not want to be a wife or a mother. She studied English literature in college and had plans to become a teacher. She sat in cafes and smoked European cigarettes and thought of herself as avant garde. But she fell in love and got married instead, and soon she had two small daughters. But she still held on to her dream of teaching and planned to do so when both girls were in school, but she became pregnant again and put away her dreams. Susie talks about seeing this dissatisfaction only once while she was alive, on the morning of her birthday, when she got up early, discovered that she had gotten a camera, and noticed her mother sitting on the back porch. Susie describes her as the real Abigail, as if the mother she was used to seeing was only a facade.

The external conflict that Abigail and all the characters must deal with is Susie's murder. At first, Abigail is unwilling to admit that Susie is dead. She keeps holding out hope. But when Susie's hat is found, she has to realize that Susie is gone. This conflict sparks Abigail to act on her internal conflict and make a change in her life.