Unwind Questions and Answers
by Neal Shusterman

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What are some different types of conflicts in the novel Unwind by Neal Shusterman? 

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In the novel Unwind by Neal Shusterman, it is society's struggle against itself which leads to the Heartland War, a civil war between pro-life and pro-choice activists. To end the war, a disastrous policy is created that leads to the "unwinding," or killing, of children. In theory, the children live on because their body parts live on, but in reality, the children are killed. It is inside this conflict that the novel is set.

While a man vs. man conflict created the backdrop of the novel, the overarching conflict of the story is man vs. self. This is evident in the individual development of every major character, but it is most significantly shown through Lev’s character. Lev’s parents tithe him, and Lev willingly travels to the Harvest Center to be unwound.

Through his interactions with other children at the Harvest Center, Lev begins to question what he has always believed. Lev’s struggle is internal; he must overcome his conviction that he is destined to be unwound. This is not only a man vs. self conflict for Lev, but also a man vs. society conflict. Society teaches Lev that it is just for adults to choose to unwind their children. Lev believes that lie, and he struggles to accept the truth that his parents and pastor are wrong. It is Lev’s evolution from a believer to a doubter that enables society to change by the end of the novel.

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Man vs. man is a conflict type in this novel. Connor and Roland do not see eye to eye throughout the story, and their conflict comes to physical violence on a couple of occasions. Their conflict with each other affects other characters in the book, too, because many of the Unwinds at the Graveyard find themselves supporting either Connor's or Roland's viewpoint.

Man vs. self is another conflict type in the book. I think that the best example of this conflict type is found in Lev. His parents are having him unwound as a tithe. He has been raised to think that it is supremely special, but as the events of the novel unfold, Lev begins to doubt all of his former beliefs about unwinding. By the end of the novel, his attitude has been completely turned around. Lev is conflicted and struggles to reconcile his childhood beliefs with what he sees unwinding is really doing to young people.

Lastly, man vs. society can be found in Unwind. Connor and all of the other AWOL Unwinds are knowingly breaking the law by running away and hiding. The Admiral is intentionally caring for and hiding Unwinds because he disagrees with the procedure. Finally, the clappers turn themselves into suicide bombers in order to draw attention to the system and hopefully destroy it.

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lsauer13 | Student

There are several types of conflicts in the novel, "Unwind" by Neal Shusterman including man vs. man, man vs. self and man vs. society. The character of Connor first demonstrates the man vs. man conflict upon discovering he will be unwound. He gets into an altercation with his father and then after escaping, he isn't pursued by the police. He fights them off causing a major accident on the highway and spends the rest of the novel trying to allude them. Throughout the novel, Connor also demonstrates man vs. man conflict through his interactions with Roland. The two are alpha archetypes and they battle physically and mentally on several occasions as they are on the run. The most notable is likely when Roland attacks Risa in an attempt to goad Connor. Another conflict in the novel is man vs. self. This is best seen through Levi whi, at the start of the story, believes in unwinding and is excited for his higher calling. As the story progresses and he is kidnapped and then travels throughout the country, Levi learns the truth about unwinding and is faced with the realities of other unwinds. He spends much of the novel trying to reconcile what he was raised to believe with what he has since learned and witnessed. Another, perhaps exaggerated, example of the man vs. self conflict in the story is seen in CyFi. This character literally has two minds battling each other for dominance. There is the mind of the character and the mind of the unwind that was used to help him. The character struggles to keep his thoughts, actions and memories straight as two minds meld into one. This conflict comes to a climax when CyFi finds the unwind's parents and allows the unwind's final thoughts to come out. The most interesting and crucial conflict in the story is man vs. society. The entire series is built upon this conflict. The idea of resolving a war based on the beliefs of pro-choice vs. pro-life by creating the process of unwinding is a major moral dilemma. In the story, society has created new laws and a new norm of stripping kids for parts and it is widely accepted. The characters spend the entire novel trying to rebel against society and its norms in order to save kids and bring about a major social change.