What is the main conflict of Chinua Achebe's short story "Civil Peace"?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In a broad sense, the main situational conflict in "Civil Peace" is the condition of destruction and lawlessness that exists in Nigeria as a result of colonialism and the Nigerian Civil War.  Jonathan Iwegbu faces hardship with hard work and a positive outlook, however.  Although his house has been damaged in the fighting, it is still standing, and Jonathan thankfully has it repaired.  His whole family chips in to rebuild their lives in whatever way they can - Jonathan's children pick mangoes, his wife makes items to sell, and when Jonathan himself is denied his old job in the coal mines, he opens a bar for soliders out of his home.  There is extra help also from the government, which gives each family a cash payment of 20 pounds in exchange for their Biafran currency.  This windfall opens the door for the immediate conflict in the story, which is heralded by the arrival of robbers at Jonathan's house.  The robbers demand Jonathan's money, and he can get help against them neither from his neighbors nor the law.  Jonathan gives them the money, and continues on the next day with his optimism and resolve intact.  He reasons that he has little to complain about since a day earlier he did not have the extra 20 pounds anyway, and he continues to toil away to rebuild a life for himself and his family in the face of whatever adversity may come their way.