Lab Girl

by Hope Jahren

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What is the main conflict in Lab Girl by Hope Jahren?

Quick answer:

Although Jahren's memoir covers her scientific endeavors in great detail, the main conflict is Jahren's struggle to understand herself. By sharing her personal and scientific endeavors, the reader gains a better understanding of the life Jahren wishes to cultivate and grow.

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Hope Jahren's memoir, Lab Girl, is separated into three parts, with each part including a different aspect of a plant's biology to serve as a metaphor for the varying parts of her life.

From growing up in rural Minnesota to receiving her education and teaching at various universities, Jahren's life is a story of struggle, survival, and as the plant metaphors teach us, growth. Jahren recalls her struggles with mental illness and the rigor of working in academia, especially as a woman in a scientific field. Despite these struggles, however, the reader sees a survivor, a woman who fights to thrive against all odds.

It is with this regard that we can consider the main conflict to be a field of study in which Jahren struggles to understand the most: herself. As Jahren takes the reader throughout her life, it becomes apparent that understanding herself and her place in the world becomes an adaptable feature. By sharing her personal and scientific endeavors, she gains a better understanding of the life she wishes to cultivate and grow.

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