What is a major conflict faced by the protagonist in Olive Kitteridge?  How does the main character deal with this particular problem? 

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teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Olive, the title character in Olive Kitteridge, is a woman looking for love and acceptance whose prickly and difficult personality puts people off. She wants love but doesn't know how to find it or how to make herself lovable to people she most cares about. A notable example is her relationship with her son Christopher, her only child. She loves him very deeply, but expresses it in ways that alienate him. In one example, she resents his new wife, so at the wedding, she steals one of her shoes. In another example, after Christopher's first marriage has disintegrated and he has remarried, Olive goes to visit Christopher, his new wife and their child. While there, she is difficult to get along with, and Christopher lashes out at her with a different account of his childhood than the fairly idyllic one Olive remembers in which she nurtured him. Instead,  Christopher recalls a difficult time growing up with a moody, unpredictable, sometimes explosive mother. Olive's lack of self awareness causes her difficulties and makes it difficult for those she cares about to connect with her. 

slchanmo1885 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Olive's main conflict throughout the book is her relationship with her son, who feels that she has tried to control his life for as long as he can remember. From Olive's viewpoint, she has just acted out of love and concern; therefore, her son's rejection of her is unfounded. The stories follow her thoughout her life and through many experiences before she realizes that she has been self-centered and she will die alone unless she becomes less rigid and unforgiving towards people in her life. By the end of her life, she finally begins to become less rigid and more accepting of others.

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Olive Kitteridge

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