What are conflicts that Stella and Blanche deal with in A Streetcar Named Desire?

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sciftw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Stella and Blanche deal with a great many conflicts throughout the story.  I'll break the conflicts up by character, and then I'll further break them down into internal and external conflicts.  

I'll start with Stella Kowalski.  I believe that Stella's main internal conflict is her struggle with knowing that her sister, Blanche, doesn't approve of her life, residence, relationship with Stanley, etc.  She feels beholden to both her sister and her husband, but Stanley and Blanche are on complete opposite ends of a spectrum.  For most of the play, Stella fervently supports and protects her sister.  

"You didn't know Blanche as a girl. Nobody, nobody, was tender and trusting as she was. But people like you abused her, and forced her to change."

That's why Stella's decision to stick with Stanley at the end of the play is so shocking.  She had to have struggled with the possibility that Stanley did indeed rape Blanche.  She has an inner struggle of how to believe something like that and continue to live with him.  

I believe that Stella's main external conflict is with her husband.  He's an abusive husband, and she has physical and emotional wounds because of it.  

As for Blanche, I feel that everything about her is conflicted.  She struggles with knowing that her family's property was foreclosed on because of her financial situation.  She struggles with the loss of her husband.  She feels that she is partly to blame for his suicide because she discovered and chastised him for his homosexuality. Blanche also struggles with her grip on reality, and she is eventually committed to a mental asylum.

Blanche's external conflicts mainly deal with her relationship with Stanley.  The two simply do not get along.  The conflict eventually ends up with Stanley raping Blanche.  

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A Streetcar Named Desire

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