How does the author set up conflicts in the opening of March?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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There are many conflicts that are brought out in Brooks' novel.  Given the time period of the Civil War, this makes sense.  I think that the first chapter, though, sets up an interesting conflict.  John March's letter opens the novel and in this, one sees a potential conflict emerge within March, himself.  While he promises to write every day and keep his wife informed, he also makes clear that he will not tell her everything he experiences or sees in the war.  This helps to bring out a conflict between March and the lengths to which he includes his wife into his experience.  It reflects a conflict between how March wants to treat Marmee and how this actually ends up materializing, reflect somewhat of a conflict.  Naturally, another conflict present is that between March's ideals and the realities of war prompted by idealism.  The bodies that are being piled up and collected in the first letter helps to bring out how the passion and zeal of beliefs are fundamentally undermined by the human cost of war.  The ideals that March holds carry with them a fundamental human cost, which is revealed in the opening letter.

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