What is the central conflict in the play The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail?

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The main problem is the definition of freedom. Although actual physical slavery is an issue, so too are those who are "enslaved" to institutions, i.e., jobs and money. As the character Henry tells a runaway slave, ""Every man shackled to a ten-hour-a-day is a work-slave. Every man who has to worry about next month's rent is a money-slave."

This play was originally produced during the Vietnam era, and questions of authority, who grants freedom, and who has freedom were intensely debated.

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