Another conflict in Okay for Now is Doug versus himself (character versus self).
In chapter 3, Doug is upset that Jane Eyre is the assigned reading for his English class. He insists that he will not read it. At this point, we can only surmise the reasons for Doug's dismissal of the book. In chapter 4, we discover (along with Mr. Ferris) that Doug cannot read. Privately, the educator consults with Miss Cowper, who sets out to acquaint Doug with the rudiments of phonics. This changes things for Doug, and he begins to gain an appreciation for reading. The description of Doug's struggles demonstrate the difficulties he has to overcome in his journey toward a greater sense of self.
In chapter 4, we also discover that Doug's terrible secret has been discovered. His peers now know that he has an embarrassing tattoo with the words "Mama's Baby" etched onto his chest. As Doug pours out his pain to Mr. Ferris, we come to understand how deeply our young protagonist has been scarred by his father's abusive actions. In order to heal from his past, Doug must learn new ways of relating to himself, his father, and others.
It is a difficult process, however. In chapter 5, Doug wrestles with his sense of shame and anger. He begins to indulge in self-destructive behavior, gets into fights in school, and stops going to the library. In other words, Doug finds himself on the losing side in the battle against his rage. Later, however, after Mr. Swieteck lies about having taken the hundred dollar prize and signed baseball from Mr. Ballard, Doug decides to challenge his father. He barely dodges his father's fists as he races out of the house.
This interaction between father and son demonstrates Doug's changing perspective and his growing appreciation for the power of truth. No matter the circumstance or challenge, the truth is irrevocable and unflinching. Mr. Swieteck may be bigger, but he cannot argue with the facts. The moment inspires Doug with the realization that his father's outlook on life is flawed and that he, Doug, has the power to choose his purpose and destiny. It is only after Doug rejects his father's distorted perspectives that he is able to begin his journey towards emotional healing.