One of the conflicts that the main character, Holling Hoodhood, faces is that he thinks Mrs. Baker, one of his teachers, hates him. When all the other students at Camillo Junior High attend Catechism at a Catholic church or Hebrew school on Wednesday afternoons, Holling, the lone Presbyterian, has to stay with Mrs. Baker. He says that she hated him "with heat whiter than the sun" (page 1). She gives him impossibly hard sentences to diagram, and then she makes him carry out boring chores. Finally, she decides that he will read Shakespeare on Wednesday afternoons, which Holling regards as torture.
As time goes on, Holling resolves his conflict by realizing that Mrs. Baker is his friend and is trying to help him. He grows interested in the Shakespeare plays he is reading, such as The Tempest. Eventually, using the expressive and romantic language he learns by reading Romeo and Juliet, and asks out Meryl Lee, with whom he has had a long flirtation and who is also reading the play. Mrs. Baker also winds up filling the role that his parents should play, as his father, an architect, is always busy with work (and is a very controlling person) and his mother is largely absent. When his father doesn't show up to take Holling to a Yankees game because he is busy with work, Mrs. Baker takes him instead. Finally, Holling comes to have some empathy for Mrs. Baker, whose husband is serving in Vietnam. When her husband goes missing and is later found, Holling shares Mrs. Baker's suffering, and, by realizing that she is a caring person with troubles of her own, he resolves his conflict by learning to get along with her.