How Conflict Defines a Character

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Without conflict, a book would be boring and predictable. There is no meaning within a story without conflict. Problems in the storyline affect the characters and can help them find themselves or even set them back. Conflict can define a character’s attitude, actions, and dialect.


Depending on how the storyline goes, one’s attitude and overall mindset can change. In the book “Speak” by Laurie Halse Anderson the main character, Melinda is an outcast. She lost all of her friends that summer before freshman year because of something she did at a party, now she is depressed and lonely. “Rachel Bruin my ex-best friend.” “If there is anyone in the entire galaxy I am dying to tell what really happened, it’s Rachel.” By the end of the year, Melinda’s attitude changes and she fixes her relationship with her friends, as well as losing a toxic one.

In the book “Into the Wild” by Jon Krakauer, Chris McCandless went into the wild to explore and get away from his parents. Throughout the book, many times he refused help and supplies from others he met on his journey. He thought he knew and had everything needed for survival.


Actions are another way conflict can define a character. As one action leads to the next it can not only cause conflict but also solve it. In “Speak” by Laurie Halse Anderson, at an end of summer party, Melinda is raped by Andy Evans, or as she calls him “IT.” Melinda had gotten drunk and when she tried to stop him no words came out. After, not knowing what to do, she called the police. “I didn’t call the cops to break up the party, I write. I called—I put the pencil down. I pick it up again—them because some guy raped me. Under the trees. I didn’t know what to do.” So because Melinda drank, she got raped. Which led to calling the cops, ruining her first highschool party, and losing all of her friends in one night.

Chris McCandless’ actions led to many conflicts throughout the book. One being not being prepared enough for the wild caused Chris to die of starvation. At the beginning of his journey to Alaska, because of a flash flood, his engine got wet and he was forced to travel on foot. If he had a car throughout his journey he would’ve gotten to Alaska a lot quicker. Chris McCandless had a couple of different jobs throughout his journey. He had made quite a bit of money but decided to burn it because he thought with the money it was too easy. “One hundred twenty-three dollars in the legal tender was promptly reduced to ash and smoke.” Saying this, I think if he would have saved his money, in the end, he wouldn’t have been out of food. There are many actions Chris could’ve avoided doing to stay alive a lot longer.


The way characters talk to one another can cause conflict as well as define a character. In the beginning of “Speak” by Laurie Halse Anderson, Melinda was finding a place to sit on the bleachers for an assembly. Her ex-best friend, Rachel mouths silently, “I hate you”, which made Melinda feel even more alone and hated. Shortly after she meets a girl named Heather who had just moved to New York from Ohio. Later in the story, Heather tells Melinda how she doesn’t want to be friends anymore. “I knew you would take this the wrong way. You are just so weird sometimes.” Heather says it’s because of her depression and that she needs “professional help”, which is not a very good reason to drop a friend who was nice to you on the first day when you didn’t know anyone. Heather does say in the book she was very grateful for that, but you don’t just do that to someone, especially a friend.

Throughout Chris McCandless’ travels in “Into the Wild” by Jon Krakauer he would send letters to everyone who he had met as well as his family. He wrote to them to say what he was up to and to tell people not to worry about him. If Chris didn’t send out letters stating he was ok, people would think he was dead and we also wouldn’t have as much evidence as we have today considering this book is based on a true story.

In conclusion, the combination of attitude, actions, and dialect all prove how conflict defines a character. These three parts are very important to an interesting story because it is better to have various types of conflict and keep the reader interested in the story.


Cite this paper

How Conflict Defines a Character. (2021, Jan 15). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/how-conflict-defines-a-character/

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