One example of external conflict is the way that Sam describes the winter and in particular the month of January, which comes towards the end of the book. Although he has worked incredibly hard to get himself ready for winter, laying up provisions and ensuring he has enough shelter, he finds January to be very "fierce." Sam's food runs low and he is running out of different kinds of provisions. Note the physical difficulties Sam has:
Toward the end of January I began to feel tired, and my elbows and knees were a little stiff. This worried me. I figured it was due to some vitamin I wasn't getting, but I couldn't remember which vitamin it was or even where I would find it if I could remember it.
This quote highlights therefore the external conflict that Sam faces as he tries to battle the winter and the strong elements of cold and snow that make it so difficult to survive and live off the land. This helps lead the story to its climax, as it it getting closer to the return of spring and Sam's completed year, which is when he will be joined by his family. This is one rather disturbing moment in the story, however, when it looks as if Sam might have to leave his shelter and go back to civilisation in order to eat some food that will satisfy his needs. It is only when he discovered that he has a craving for liver that he is able to get better.