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In short, a conflict is resolved when we learn the outcome(s) of those involved. But let's first define conflict before we further explain resolution. Enotes.com defines conflict as, "actual or perceived opposition of needs, values and interests. A conflict can be internal (within oneself) [or with other] individuals." In respect to literature, this definition can be furthered by including man's conflict against nature. In short, there are three main conflicts: man vs man, man vs self, man vs nature.
Conflict with a character in literature is usually resolved either with compromise (negotiating) or conflict (violence). Because a conflict is resolved does not necessarily mean that all is weel and fine. While it could mean that two opponents shake hands and go their own way, it could also mean that someone is forced to submit through violence or, worse yet, through death. A resovled conflict can also be the place where the reader learns the fate of the character based off the conflict. Let's look at some examples.
Man vs Man
In Shakespeare's play, "Macbeth," Macbeth has assassinated the king in order to take his place. The more honorable Banquo is unhappy with the deed. Macbeth sees Banquo as a threat, so he kills Banquo. While that man vs man conflict is "resolved" it leads to other internal conflicts that eventually overwhelm Macbeth. Through this resolution, the reader sees how conflicts can compound, and then perpetuate themselves.
Man vs Nature
In Jack London's short story, "To Build a Fire," the protagonist is faced with a journey through cold and snow the likes of which he had yet to experience. The man is an experienced hiker, but he neglects all the signs that this was not a good time to journey. The man battles against the terrain and conditions (nature) but eventually submits to nature via hypothermia. The conflict is resolved in his acceptance of being defeated by a force much greater than himself. Through this resolution, the reader heeds the warnings short-sightedness.
The conflict is resolved because becomes more understanding to holling and her husband comes back. Meanwhile Holling decides he doesn't want to be a part of the family business.
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