The crisis of the story is the conflict between Flo and Rose that results in Rose's father beating her. Flo is Rose's stepmother, and the author captures the conflicts between them, including Rose's apparent corruption of her younger brother, Brian, that cause Flo to call in her husband to administer a serious lashing to Rose. In a way, Flo seems to relish the drama of the beating and the way in which it relieves the tedium and hard work of her life, in which she cleans house, watches her children, and tends to the family's store. After the beating, Flo is strangely repentant and brings Rose cold cream and later a tray of food. The tension that leads up to the beating is that of most children and parents (it mainly involves Rose speaking in a fresh tone to Flo), but Flo decides to resolve the tension by ordering her husband to administer a beating to Rose. The essential conflict of the story is the complicated relationship between Rose and Flo and the way in which it combines violence and love.