Conflict Can Be Character Building

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Conflict is constantly occurring in our everyday lives between individuals and groups in society as it is an inevitable factor of human existence. Conflict involves social disagreement, different interests and beliefs. It is possible to even have inner conflict with oneself. Without a clash of individual beliefs and feelings, no one would be capable of the self reflection or self assessment that enables us to work out what we believe in and stand for. Conflict opens up different personalities, perceptions, values and emotions that will ultimately lead to character building.

Kate Grenville’s novel, “The Secret River,” depicts that a person’s character can transform once there has been a clash of social disagreement and a difference in interests and beliefs. Dick Thornhill is an excellent example of a person whose character had transformed due to conflict. At first Dick was only an innocent young boy who enjoyed spending hours in the forest ‘as if learning the place by heart.’ His father is disapproving of this and urged him not to associate with the Aborigines. As the novel progresses, Dick’s relationship with his father is strained by the belting he receives for trying to justify the reasons why he was playing with the Aboriginal children when there was work that needed to be done. Dick cannot understand why his father, William Thornhill, is treating the Aborigines differently, but Dick continues to treat them with the utmost respect that they had hardly received from the white settlers. After the corn patch incident, Dick is not mentioned until the last pages of the novel, when he is the age of eighteen. Dick has learned to ignore his father and live with Blackwood instead, only visiting his mother when William isn’t home. Due to the conflict between Dick’s father and the Aborigines, dick was able to work out what he believed in and stood for and this enabled him to reflect upon himself. Dick did not want to be anything like his father and had lost all...
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