Free «Internal and External Conflicts» Essay

Internal and External Conflicts

People always interact with one another and fill their lives with a variety of emotions. The actions, which correspond with the surroundings, are constantly changing and may not meet and satisfy personal desires or needs. For example, the external conflict may reveal in misunderstanding between parents and teenagers. The former want to take care of their children, which results in a conflict with teenagers’ desire for independence. Likewise, the individual nature and traces of character can cause mood swings, misconduct, and embarrassment. The conflicts within the person, for instance, the sexual appeal may contrast with danger and uncertainty. Consequently, mental conflicts of personal and interpersonal origins are interrelated, influencing mood and actions during the lifespan. Like any other individual, the main character of the short story WhereAreYouGoing,WhereHaveYouBeen experiences both internal and external conflicts.

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The short story WhereAreYouGoing,WhereHaveYouBeen written by Joyce Carol Oates depicts the complicity of relations between the main character and her parents. It is considered one of the most popular author's works, adapted to a movie SmoothTalk in 1988. Both the prose and the film reveal personal nature, believes, illusions in connection with other people, and personal expectations. The plot highlights fantasies that go opposite to reality and danger. The inner conflicts of unknown but desired sexual appeal, the feeling of danger, and confusion follow the collisions within the family.

The story depicts the teenaged girl Connie in connection with her relatives and friends, as well as her inner world of dreams and desires. This pretty girl experiences external conflicts due to bad relations with her parents and sister. Her father does not talk to her much and the mother almost all the time shows discontent with her younger daughter. The general atmosphere of ignorance from father, mother's anoyance, and constant critics make her wish “her mother was dead and she herself was dead and it was all over” (Oates). Due to the external conflict with her parents, the girl is lonely and feels that she does not satisfy parents’ desires. Consequently, this conflict makes Connie search for warmth and acceptance outside from home.

The girl has a split personality, meaning that all Connie’s actions are “one for home and one for anywhere that was not home” (Oates). This inner conflict of her character and behavior makes the girl act like a mature sexual woman who is seeking for a male. On the contrary, when she is at home, she hides her sexuality. Connie prefers meeting boys and listening to the music most of all. These two things go together and at home, she is not dreaming about a particular person, but enjoying the feeling of a light flirt with the accompaniment of her favorite melodies. Connie's perception of a child on the one hand and the womanly behavior on the other hand is the vision of her independence from annoying relatives.

However, the girl's ostentatious attractiveness makes her feel embarrassment and terrible fear. One day, the girl who is left alone suddenly hears the car driving into the backyard. The driver immediately invites Connie for a ride. She finds out that Arnold Friend is rather attractive; however, his knowledge about her parent's location, her friend's names, and neighbors makes her soon change the attitude. The general tension arises when Arnold clearly states that he is her lover and she should come with him. This statement of the stranger causes another internal conflict in the girl. Simultaneously, she feels desire, fear, imperceptions, and dizziness. Connie's embarrassment becomes stronger with the impression that the man “had come from nowhere before that and belonged nowhere and that everything about him and even about the music that was so familiar to her was only half real” (Oates). Arnold's words, the awkwardness of his smile, the pressure, and threatening make Connie desperately nervous. His appearance and actions do not ffit words and the perception of his personality; hence, he appears to be a sort of ominous illusion. Here, the external conflict of the man pressuring the girl despite her unwillingness connects with Connie's inner conflict between the desire for adventures and fear. Arnold exited Connie; however, his awkwardness and sexual suggestions cause anxiety and terror. 

At last, after the girl's mental break when she cannot dial the police number but only scream in the handset, the inner silence and emptiness come. She is watching herself leaving the safe place of her kitchen meeting the new sunlit vast environment where the man is waiting. This external conflict between man's and girl's desires causes the vanishing of personal will and gives privileges to the stronger one. The words and pressure of the mature man are somewhat hypnotic and conquer the girl's sense of security.

The film SmoothTalk that is based on the story shows the contrasts of the protagonist's life with a help of the variation of bright and dark scenes. Moreover, Laura Dern masterly played the features of Connie's character, particularly her smirks, attitude to the mother, and fear when she meets abstruse and ominous Arnold Friend. The actress showed the inner conflict between desire and fear during the conversation with the boys in the sunny yard and the desperate fear in the shady corner of the kitchen.

In conclusion, the author skillfully reveals the internal and external conflicts of the main character. Thus, the protagonist experiences the external conflict due to the dual attitude of the mother and the lack of appreciation within the family. This conflict makes the girl seek warmth in quick dates with boys. External conflicts are also the basis for internal ones, as the behavior of the girl differs when she is at home and somewhere out. Connie acts like a sexually mature woman, which resulted in a dangerous situation. Finally, the conversation with Arnold Friend makes Connie suffer from the inner conflict between fear, desire, and the unreliability of reality.   

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