In John Updike's "Separating," the external conflicts are seen between the members of the family as Richard and Joan prepare to tell their children of—and then discuss—what they say will be a trial separation.
There are two kinds of conflict: internal and external.
Conflict is the engine that drives a plot.
Conflict exists here between characters. In this story, the external conflict seen is man vs. man.
The first conflict is between Richard and Joan. The narrator infers that Richard has had an affair. It is not something that gives him joy—her presence is "vaguely" presented to the reader, and seems equally vague to Richard. They tell the kids they have grown apart, but the truth must cause Joan a great deal of pain. The narrator does not give the reader any deep insight to what she is feeling, other than through her conversation with Richard—the chasm between them is obvious.
It is Joan that comes up with a plan to tell the children separately. However, like ripping off a...
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