What are the conflicts in Autobiography of My Dead Brother?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The primary conflicts in Autobiography of My Dead Brother concern how adolescents navigate the challenges in growing up.

There are many examples of the individual versus society type of conflict in the book.  Myers is focused on showing how there is a real struggle involved in growing up for urban youth of color. For example, the book opens and closes with funerals for young African- American men.  Rise and Jesse talk about what it means to "go out" or die.  The challenges of inner city America also represent the conflict of individual versus society.  Gangs, drugs, and violence all are realities of this conflict.  To survive means to consciously do battle against such forces.

Another conflict related to this struggle to grow up takes place between Jesse and Rise.  The conflict between two individuals is seen in the different paths that both take.  Rise moves towards the life of drugs in being a dealer in Harlem, while Jesse embraces a life of visual artistic expression.  While both "brothers" are loyal to one another, their divergent choices represent a conflict in terms of which path to take.  


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