The Moose and the Sparrow

by Hugh Garner
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In "The Moose and the Sparrow" by Hugh Garner, identify and explain, using textual evidence, one internal and one external conflict developed by the author in the story.

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The short story "The Moose and the Sparrow" by Hugh Garner tells of a 19-year-old university student named Cecil who spends a summer working at a logging camp. At first all of the employees make fun of him and play tricks on him. He takes their teasing well and all the loggers relent except for one man: Moose Maddon.

A brute named Moose Maddon is more malicious than the rest of the men. Cecil is assigned to his crew, unfortunately. Instead of backing off like the rest when he sees that Cecil is taking it all good-naturedly, Moose's vindictiveness causes him to find increasingly cruel ways to torment Cecil. The narrator finds Cecil broken down and weeping on a sandy beach one evening, and he learns that Cecil is frightened that Moose will kill him before the end of the summer. Eventually, Moose seriously injures Cecil by burning his hand on a heated saw.

That night, Moose falls to his death from a log over a deep ravine. The narrator suspects that Cecil made a trap on the log with wire he had previously used to make trinkets out of. The wire watch band that Cecil gives the narrator may have originally been a murder weapon.

The main external conflict in the story is obvious. It is the ongoing conflict between Moose and Cecil that at first is evidenced by Moose's cruel torment of Cecil and eventually by the implied murder of Moose by Cecil. This conflict is made clear in the first two sentences in the story:

From the very beginning Moose Maddon picked on him. The kid was bait for all of Maddon's cruel practical jokes around the camp.

If you read carefully through the story, you can find numerous other examples of textual evidence that shows the conflict between Moose and Cecil.

The main internal conflict is the attempt by Cecil to hold up under Moose's torments. You can find textual evidence of this in the conversation between Cecil and the narrator. Cecil explains that this was the first time he broke down, that at first he took Moose's taunts, and that he expected it to eventually stop. He feels that it will be tough to stand it for the last couple of weeks. The conflict is between his resolve to not give in to Moose and the fear that Moose will seriously hurt him.

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