Encountering Conflict in 'the Secret River'

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Encountering Conflict in The Secret River
‘Conflict’ involves the clash of interests, ideas and expectations. It can also mean a fight or a struggle, ranging from a battle or violent clash between armies to antagonism between two people. In The Secret River, conflict takes many forms, from bloody disputes over territory between whites and blacks, to the discrepancy in opinions about an ideal place to settle down for Sal and William Thornhill. Article on The Secret River by Fiona Neilson Context: Encountering Conflict To ‘encounter’ means to come upon or meet with, especially unexpectedly. It may refer to a chance meeting, or it may mean a meeting between adversaries. It does not only refer to meetings between people, but also covers meeting ideas, as in ‘he encountered that attitude for the first time’. Many forms of encounter occur in The Secret River, from those at the personal level such as meetings between the white settlers and Indigenous inhabitants of NSW, and William’s encounters with the legal system, to the clash of ideas. Sal and William, with their expectations of life in the colony as an extension of their life in England, abruptly encounter the reality of an alien landscape and their status as outsiders. The Secret River shows how, fundamentally, conflict is what occurs when different goals, expectations and understandings collide. Encounters with conflict thus signify these points of collision. The basic plot of The Secret River involves characters forced into criminality out of desperation to survive, who are then transported to a harsh foreign environment where a nascent society struggles to establish rules and boundaries. Given this, it is not surprising to see numerous encounters with conflict. Any investigation of Encountering Conflict needs to consider the different types of conflict that occur in the text, and how the protagonists or characters deal with them. Conflict may be positive, but it depends on the consequences. If it serves to...
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