Jacques Prévert

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What is the conflict in Jacques Prévert's poem "Breakfast"?

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This poem does not contain a direct conflict. Rather, it contains a situation that obviously comes after some form of conflict, where the man who is eating his breakfast is choosing not to talk to the speaker of the poem.

The poem describes a typical breakfast scene in painstaking detail, including the making of a cup of coffee, the smoking of a cigarette, and the donning of a hat and raincoat. All of these are done without a word being said between the two characters, which creates an obvious atmosphere of tension throughout the poem, which culminates in the narrator's tears after the man finishes his breakfast and leaves.

While we are not given any information as to the nature of the conflict that has taken place, the assumption is that it is between a husband and a wife. It is worth noting that, while the narrator is devastated by what has happened, she makes no effort to talk to the man while he eats his breakfast. The fact that neither of them attempt conversation implies that the conflict was serious.

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The conflict in the poem is developed indirectly and the reader is left without any detailed knowledge of its actual nature. The narrative of the poem describes what appears to be a typical breakfast scene. The anonymous narrator describes a man drinking morning coffee and smoking a cigarette. After doing so, he puts on a hat and raincoat and leaves. He performs these acts in complete silence, something the narrator emphasizes in the lines:

Without any word to me
Without any look at me

This suggests that the scene is not one of strangers at a pension but rather of a lovers' or spousal quarrel, especially in light of the narrator crying after the man leaves. We do not know why the man refuses to speak or look at the narrator, as that is not explicitly stated in the poem. However, the lack of communication does suggest some form of conflict.

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