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How Conflict Creates Character

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Michael Jordan once stated, “Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.”Often in literature, both fiction and non-fiction, characters are faced with obstacles and conflict. This conflict helps them find the parts of themselves that they didn’t know they had. The process of dealing with conflict forces characters to adapt and become more resilient in life.

An example of a challenge that a character faced was in the novel, The Call of the Wild. The protagonist, Buck, a mixed breed dog, originally from California, is kidnapped to pay off a gambling debt. His character has to quickly adjust to a new environment from his fancy life in a mansion to a harsh life in a camp that constantly moves areas; this is where Buck has to learn to take care of himself. “So that was the way they did it, eh? Buck confidently selected a spot, and with much fuss and waste effort proceeded to dig a hole for himself” ( London,18). This shows how Buck had to learn and copy from the other dogs like how to sleep and keep warm without him freezing to death. Later, in the novel Buck expresses that he does not want Spitz to be the leader, instead he wants to become the leader of the sled dogs. “Shoulder at last squarely met shoulder. The dark circle became a dot on the moon-flooded snow as Spitz disappeared from view. Buck stood and looked on, the successful champion, the dominant primordial beast who had made his kill”( London. 40). This quote explains how the fight between Buck and Spitz had ended. Buck had won the fight against Spitz which demonstrates how conflict played a huge role in this story.

Also, in the novel The Call of the Wild, the dog Spitz early on in the novel showed that he did not like Buck and may have felt even threatened by Buck. Spitz ‘ felt his supremacy threatened by this strange Southland dog. And strange Buck was to him, for of the many Southland dogs he had known, not one had shown up worthily in camp and on trail. They were all too soft, dying under the toil, the frost, and starvation. Buck was the exception”( London,32). This evidence explains how Spitz had felt his superiority threatened by a strange dog from the south (Buck). This new dog in the pack was especially strange because many of the other southern dogs he had encountered over time had never shown up to the camp worthy enough and on the trail. He also explains that they were too soft and could not handle the rough trails, were dying under all the hard work they had to do, could not handle the harsh temperatures, and the little amount of food they had received was rationed; but Buck had been an exception to all of that.

Later, in the novel Buck was trying to hunt a bunny and Spitz had seen him and decided to go on a ledge without Buck noticing. He waited for the perfect moment to jump and take the bunny. The moment did eventually come, he took the bunny from Buck and killed the bunny. Buck became angry with Spitz, charged at him and this had created a fight between them due to the fact that Spitz hated Buck and wanted to get back at him. “But Spitz, cold and calculating even in his supreme moods, left the pack and cut across a narrow neck of land where the creek made a long bend around. Buck did not know of this… larger frost wraith leap from the overhanging bank into the immediate path of the rabbit. It was Spitz (London, 38 )”. This quote proves that Buck had killed Spitz during a fight they had and if Spitz had not caught the bunny he would probably be alive. Yet again, the challenges that the character, Spitz faces leads to his demise due to his jealousy.

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In addition, the novel The Darkest Minds, similarly to Buck the protagonist Ruby had to adjust to a new lifestyle due to something that was out of her control. In Ruby’s home town in Salem, Virginia, this area got hit with a nation wide disease that only affected children, later known as IAAN ( Idiopathic Adolescent Acute Neurodegeneration). Over half of the kids were killed due to the disease and the kids who survived were not the same as they had once been prior to the outbreak. Ruby was taken and brought to a camp that was supposed to help get rid of their powers if they worked hard. Ruby also had to learn how things worked and follow the rules that were nothing like what she was used to in that camp so she would not get punished. “The only time we were allowed to talk was in our cabin before lights out. Everywhere else, it was all work obedience, silence”( Bracken, 27 ). This demonstrates that this rule was strict, firm, and created for obedience. Prior to the camp, they had freedom and they could speak whenever they wanted. This was a form of control over the kids in the camp.

When Ruby first arrived she had to see a doctor who would take a scan of their brain. The scan would show a color and that color would tell them what power they had and what to do with them. The colors were formatted in a pyramid green on the bottom, the most common and considered the least dangerous and orange at the top, the least common, and considered the most dangerous. The Greens (G) power was enhanced intelligence, and at the top of the pyramid was the Oranges (O) and they had the power to control minds but they had to be terminated. Ruby was an orange but tricked the doctor into saying she was a Green and she survived for six years under that category However, here was always one army man who had his suspicions about Ruby and so she was always in danger of being caught. Then, the military decided to do a test and they played a sound they called the Calm Control and that would scan all their brains at once and their reaction to it will tell them what category they were in. “Your bad reaction means that they know you aren’t a G, Unless you do exactly as I say they will kill you tomorrow” ( Bracken, 46 ). This shows that she is constantly under threat of being harmed or destroyed and how she often gets lucky except for this time. This quote is said in a note by a “doctor” who is trying to attempt to help Ruby escape (smuggle her out). This particular “doctor” is part of a league who can help all of the children in the camps to find their freedom, again. they have to go into what looks like a war with the government and the president who is ordering these camps. Ultimately, it is Ruby’s perseverance, her wit, her helpful manipulation and her physical strength that allows her to outrun a government that is trying to control her and others.

A real life example of a woman who has overcome a very difficult obstacle, one that was truly out of her control, is pro-surfer, Bethany Hamilton. Like Ruby, Bethany did not let challenges or conflict get in the way of her desires and dreams. In the article, written in the New York Times, the author shares the story of how Bethany Hamilton lost her left arm after a vicious shark attack while surfing with her friends and father. “She lost 60 percent of her blood in the attack and lost her left arm almost to the shoulder. But she was back surfing within a month.” This quote shows that even though that conflict caused her to lose her arm she did not give up doing what she loved.

The definition of the word “Resiliency is: the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.” Resiliency is the important trait that all of these characters have in common. From fiction, non-fiction books and novels, with characters such as Buck and Ruby and real life examples from articles like Bethany Hamilton, being able to overcome their conflict is what creates their inner strength.. . Without conflict, there would be no resiliency and their stories may have turned out completely different and who they became.

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How Conflict Creates Character. (2022, Jun 09). Edubirdie. Retrieved November 27, 2022, from
“How Conflict Creates Character.” Edubirdie, 09 Jun. 2022,
How Conflict Creates Character. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 27 Nov. 2022].
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