What is the conflict of "Bee Season"?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that there are several conflicts that all interact with one another in "Bee Season."  The most prominent of these lie with Eliza, and you will have to find evidence of these in the text.  There is an "individual vs. individual" conflict that exists within Eliza when she wins the spelling bee and then receives praise and adulation for doing so.  She begins to see herself differently- from old Eliza, who was apathetic and not caring about school, to new Eliza, seen as "smart."  Additionally, there is a conflict between Eliza and her mother.  Examine how the two of them seem to not quite click at several points in the novel.  In a larger sense, there might even be a conflict of Eliza against the world, as she struggles to make sense of why she is being so respected and cared for now, but in the past she was almost silent and discarded.  I think you might also find some conflicts between Eliza and religion, between an individual and higher forces.  Naturally, there is always the conflict of Eliza against the other spellers.  I think the strength of this work is that there are layers upon layers of conflict as Eliza grows up because maturation involves layers of conflict.  I think if you can identify one to three of them and explain them with specific examples from the novel (scenes, dialogue), you will be fine.