What are some internal conflicts of Nat Hocken?

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cldbentley | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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In the story "The Birds," by Daphne du Maurier, Nat Hocken finds himself in a situation filled with conflict of virtually every nature.  The internal conflict facing Hocken is a driving force for many of his actions.  As the head of his household, Hockens must face and overcome his own emotions in order to protect those he loves and feels he must protect.

Near the beginning of the story, Hocken struggles to make sense of the attacks of the birds.  Hocken has been taught to find scientific reasons for occurences in nature, as most people have.  However, he finds that his reasoning skills cannot unveil the force motivating the birds to attack, though his clearness of thought does enable him to understand patterns and other aspects of the birds' behavior.  The violence of the birds is especially unnnerving because of its unknown origin.  Hocken fulfills his role as provider and protector despite his own fears and misgivings.

"How are we off for food?" he said.

"Now, Nat, whatever next?"

"Never mind.  What have you got in the larder?"

"It's shopping day tomorrow, you know that.  I don't keep uncooked food hanging about, it goes off.  Butcher doesn't call till the day after.  But I can bring back something when I go in tomorrow."

Nat did not want to scare her.  He thought it possible that she might not go to town tomorrow.  He looked in the larder for himself, and in the cupboard where she kept her tins.  They would do for a couple of days.  Bread was low.

In addition to caring for his own family, Hocken struggles with feeling he must convince others to take precautions against the birds.  Other people, such as the Triggs, fail to take the warnings of Hockens and others seriously; this is upsetting to Hocken, since he has a sense of the importance and implications of the birds' presence.  Hocken must struggle within himself to accept his inability to persuade others to follow his lead.

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