What is an internal conflict in the book Rumble Fish?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Probably the main internal conflict that arises in S. E. Hinton's Rumble Fish concerns the relationship between Rusty-James and his brother, the Motorcycle Boy. Rusty-James idolizes his older brother and yearns for the two of them to always be together. But Motorcycle Boy is restless, and he can never stay in the same place for long. Rusty-James recognizes this, but his greatest fear--of being alone--prompts him to never relinquish this dream. Rusty-James is happiest when he is with his brother, even when they put themselves in dangerous situations; meanwhile, Motorcycle Boy is happiest when he is riding another stolen motorcycle, away from his family. Motorcycle Boy admonishes Rusty-James for his continued gang violence--the older brother sees no value in fighting and rumbling--and Rusty-James, who loves to fight, tries his best to live up to his brother's edict. Rusty-James eventually relinquishes control of his gang and follows Motorcycle Boy to the pet store, where they steal the rumble fish with the intention of setting them free. Motorcycle Boy is himself killed, and the fish die, too, leaving Rusty-James alone and without his brother.