Conflict results from the tensions between opposing forces in a literary work to generate interest in the plot and characters. In Chris Cleave’s novel, Little Bee, the author explores where individuality lies within a person, as the characters face internal conflict while struggling to define their own identities. Cleave introduces this personal conflict as Sarah describes their personal battles more in depth: “The summer my husband died—we all had identities we were loath to let go of. My son had his Batman costume, I still used my husband’s surname, and Little Bee…still clung to her name she had taken in a time of terror” (p. 22). Cleave demonstrates conflict as it arises from differences in culture and through the internal struggles that the characters confront. Ultimately, however, the characters are able to set aside their personal battles to assist one another in times of need.
Cleave deliberately uses Charlie as a metaphor of a child experimenting with a superhero persona in order to determine his identity and to make the readers become emotionally invested in the characters. By utilizing Charlie as an example, Cleave introduces the theme of internal conflict to the novel. The summer after his father’s death, Charlie refuses to remove his batman costume unless it is bath time, and he will not answer to any other name other than Batman (21). When Little Bee asks Charlie if he wants to take off his costume, he tells her that he cannot take off his costume because if he is not Batman “all the time,” then his dad dies (223). Charlie is afraid to be Charlie, because he does not want anything to happen to those around him. Where all of the other characters lead complicated lifestyles, to Charlie, life is simple; every one and thing can be categorized into a “goodie” or a “baddie.” After Little Bee assures Charlie that he is going to be all right, and she reveals her real name, Charlie finally removes his entire Batman outfit (265-266). Through...
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