The Use of Conflict in Short Fictions
Conflict is an essential element of plot. It reflects the main character’s struggle in a story. Plot is developed based on the conflict. Therefore, a good story often contains one or more conflicts, which can lead the story from the exposition to the climax, and then the resolution. In addition, it is also a significant tool used by the writers to reflect the problems in real life. Writers
In “The Appointment in Samarra”, W. Somerset Maugham uses the conflict between human and supernatural to teach us a specific lesson about death and destiny. In the story, Maugham illustrates the fear of dying, which is the natural part of human nature by describing the servant’s reaction after seeing the Death in the marketplace. “The servant came back, white and trembling” (Maugham) Trying to avoid his fate, the servant borrows a horse from the merchant in order to run away from the Death “as fast as the horse could gallop”. (Maugham) ...view middle of the document...
This resolution is ironic, which is the opposite of the servant’s expected outcome. Instead of running away from the Death, the servant ended up with running towards his death. The story tells us that we cannot avoid our fate. If it is destined, it will happen no matter what you do in order to avoid it. Trying to run away from the destiny is just a waste of time and energy.
“The Fox and the Grapes” written by Aesop is a fable that focuses on the internal conflict. In this story, the fox is not clever nor successful like he usually is in other stories. He tries his best, but still cannot reach the grapes. Finally, he walks away convincing himself with saying “ I thought those grapes were ripe, but I see now they are quite sour.” (Aesop) In this case, the desire for the grapes and the incapability results in the conflict in the fox. Aesop uses the conflict to show us the moral of the fable, which is stated at the end, "It is easy to despise what you cannot get." (Aesop) This reflects the thought passing through our mind In real life, when people are not able to get what they want, in most cases they will find an excuse to soften the blow of defeat.
The story happens in the parable“Independence” by Chuang Tzu shows us another kind of conflict. When Chuang Tzu is interviewed by two high officers, he mentions a story of tortoise in order to refuse the request of the Prince of Ch’u tactfully. In this case, the conflict is between human and society. The Prince of Ch’u stands for fame and power. While most of the people in the society are seeking on wealth, Chuang Tzu still would like to “remain wagging my tail in the mud” rather than be kept “packed up in a box on the altar in his ancestral shrine”. (Chuang Tzu) What this parable tells us about him is that he is an unpretentious person who does not want to ride on someone's coattails. In addition, he is not a time-server, who would rather sit quietly and fish instead of going off to be the follower of the rich and powerful.
Conflict is important to literature because it provides the basic materials for the construction of the plot. Without conflict nothing would happen. Also, the conflict within a piece may be central to the author's view of life or the point he or she is trying to make.