What are some conflicts in the story "The Shawl"?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The basic conflict in the story is that Rosa, a Jewish woman, has a baby, Magda, whom she must keep hidden from the Nazis.  As she carries Magda on the march to the concentration camp, Rosa, who understands that Magda is fair and could pass for "one of them", considers giving the child to someone along the way, but she knows if she gets out of line she will be shot.  She is also worried that if she does try to surreptitiously pass the child to someone, the recipient may not want her, or may drop her, which would kill her instantly.  Rosa decides to keep the baby, hiding her in her shawl, and manages to keep her presence a secret for awhile when they arrive at the camp, with much difficulty. 

Magda becomes very attached to the shawl, and clings to it for security.  One day she becomes separated from the shawl and toddles outside the barracks crying.  Rosa faces another conflict in that she must decide if she should to run to the child, because if she does they will both surely be noticed immediately and shot.  She hurries instead to get the shawl, hoping she can return quickly enough so Magda will see the shawl, and, comforted, will come back in before she is noticed.  Tragically, she is too late, and the baby is picked up by a guard and dashed against the electric fence.