What is the main conflict in the story Miracle's Boys?

The main conflict in the story Miracle's Boys takes places between brothers Charlie and Lafayette. Charlie, who has just returned from juvenile detention, has been transformed from a kind child to a tough guy, and Lafayette is unhappy with the transformation and its impact on their family.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The main conflict in this story is between two brothers, Lafayette and Charlie. Having returned from a juvenile detention center where he was sent for undertaking the armed robbery of a candy store, Charlie is a changed man, and his new identity rubs his brother the wrong way.

Charlie has...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

The main conflict in this story is between two brothers, Lafayette and Charlie. Having returned from a juvenile detention center where he was sent for undertaking the armed robbery of a candy store, Charlie is a changed man, and his new identity rubs his brother the wrong way.

Charlie has transformed from being a kind, soft-hearted child who cares about everybody to being a stereotypical jaded tough guy. Lafayette, who is dealing with demons of his own related to the death of the mother, Miracle, and his inability to save her, hates the changes that have taken place in Charlie. He even gives him a new name—Newcharlie.

The conflict between Charlie and Lafayette is heightened by Charlie's opinion that Lafayette should have saved their mother's life, despite the fact that he himself was powerless to help, as he was in juvie at the time. It is later revealed that Charlie has terrible guilt of his own, relating to the fact that he was in handcuffs the last time his mother got to see him.

While Newcharlie had been away, Ty'ree and Lafayette had established an equilibrium in their lives, and the external conflict in this story relates to the disturbance of that status quo caused by Charlie's return and transformation.

The conflict reaches its crescendo when Charlie is arrested again, this time for riding in stolen car. This incident proves to be the catalyst for another change, and the boys are able to begin to rebuild their relationship.

Over and above this external conflict, all three of the brothers are facing internal conflicts relating to feelings of guilt caused by the death of their parents.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Jacqueline Woodson's novel Miracle's Boys centers around three orphaned African American and Puerto Rican brothers: Ty'ree, Charlie, and Lafayette. The novel focuses on the individual struggles of each brother, as well as the collective struggles they all face growing up in Harlem after the deaths of both of their parents. Internal and external conflicts are seen throughout the story.

The conflicts in the novel can be narrowed down to three main struggles: Ty'ree caring for his younger siblings; Charlie readjusting to life after his release from a juvenile detention center; and Lafayette's guilt over the death of his mother.

Ty'ree is twenty-two years old and the oldest of the three brothers. He gives up his dreams of attending college to take care of his siblings. He becomes their legal guardian and struggles to support them with a limited income. He loves his brothers and does his best to take care of them, but he is also bitter and resents having to sacrifice his own dreams and future after the death of their mother.

Charlie is fifteen years old and was recently released from a juvenile detention facility after serving time for armed robbery. He is angry and struggles to adjust to life with his family and friends after his release. He is changed by the time he served, and his behavior and personality are unrecognizable to his brothers. He is one transgression away from becoming a ward of the state. He knows that his brothers need him to stay out of trouble and be a responsible member of the family, but he finds it difficult to resist the negative influence of his friends.

Lafayette is the narrator, protagonist, and youngest brother. He blames himself for the death of his mother because he found her after she went into a diabetic coma and he was unable to help her. He struggles with his feelings of guilt and is afraid to be close to anyone again. As a result, he becomes distant and withdrawn.

In addition to their respective struggles, the brothers also face the collective struggles of communicating with one another; living in poverty; and navigating life after losing their parents at young ages.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

As you try to identify the main conflict in Jacqueline Woodson’s novel Miracle’s Boys, you should think about the primary struggle or clash that propels the brothers’ narrative.

You might consider making the death of the mother the main conflict. If the mom was still alive, Lafayette probably wouldn’t feel so guilty, Ty’ree could have gone to MIT, and maybe Charlie’s behavior would be less wanton.

Yet it seems like the mom's death is less of a conflict and more of a major event that sets the stage for the main conflict.

Perhaps Charlie's return from the juvenile facility could be the main conflict. Remember, when Charlie was gone, Ty’ree and Lafayette created a rather harmonious, loving environment. Ty’ree even told Lafayette that he could come and sleep with him if he had a bad dream.

The return of Charlie upends their conflict-free home. Altered by the facility, Charlie appears more hard-hearted and withdrawn. His presence brings conflict into the home. Both brothers worry about his behavior. If Charlie gets in trouble again, he could be punished further, and the home that Ty’ree has created might collapse. Thus, it seems reasonable to say that the main conflict is centered on post-juvenile Charlie (also known as Newcharlie) and the threat that he poses to himself and his brothers.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on