The problem in Andrew Clements' Frindle, also called the conflict, concerns the fact that Nick Allen, the protagonist, is an unusually creative person. As a creative person, Nick has a tendency to do things that are contrary to what the rest of society does, which also means Nick constantly challenges authority in order to express himself. In Frindle, Nick challenges authority by deciding to call a pen a frindle. Since Nick is challenging the rest of society by renaming a pen a frindle, we can call this a character vs. society conflict. However, Nick's decision to call a pen a frindle is opposed most by his third-grade teacher, Mrs. Granger; therefore, we can also call this a character vs. character conflict.
Nick first begins being influenced to invent a new word, such as frindle, when he asks Mrs. Granger who decides what words mean, and she responds with the following answer:
Who says dog means dog? You do, Nicholas. You and I and everyone in this class and this school and this town and this state and this country. We all agree. (p. 28)
Soon after this speech, Nick gets the brainstorm to exercise his authority to decide what words mean by calling a pen a frindle. Yet, Mrs. Granger objects to this decision and fights against it because, for one reason, in her view, the meaning of words are not arbitrary. The meanings of words have extensive background and have already been agreed upon and laid down in the dictionary as law by good authority.
The solution of the story, also called the resolution, occurs when, at the age of 21, Nick's word is added to the dictionary, a symbol that he should continue to be creative and challenge the world, accomplishing great, new things, despite opposition. Furthermore, by the time we reach the end of the story, we learn that Mrs. Granger had only been angry at first. As she explains in the letter she gives Nick at the age of 21, she had come to realize that Nick was doing exactly what every teacher wants students to do: "take an idea they have learned in a boring old classroom and put it to a real test in their own world" (p. 85). In other words, she was proud to see Nick think his own thoughts and run with them, something most people never do. She further explains that the reason why she decided to stick to opposing his idea is because she knew his idea would never take off if he did not have opposition, someone to "be the villain" (p. 85). As Nick explains in his own thoughts after reading the letter, "The old fox! She had been rooting for frindle the whole time. By fighting against it, she had actually helped it along" (p. 86). Hence, the story further resolves once Nick comes to understand how influential he, one small person with creative ideas, can truly be, and realizes just how many people in the world have been rooting for him all along.