Conflict is a central part of every work of literature. Be it a short story, a novel, an anthology, etc, every story has some type of conflict. A character can be plagued by an internal conflict, where an event such as a death chips away at said character’s mental state. External conflicts, on the contrary, usually deal with physical things, such as drugs, money, and guns. In Jay McInerney’s novel, Bright Lights Big City, the main character, who remains nameless throughout the entire story, faces both internal and external conflicts while trying to get his life back on the right track. McInerney paints a vivid picture of how these conflicts lead to the crumbling of a man.
The main character, who will be known as the protagonist, is faced with intense internal conflicts. In all of these internal conflicts, a different protagonist arises. One of the key internal conflicts that the protagonist struggles with is the loss of his model wife, Amanda, who left him out of the blue. He believed that all was well, and that it couldn’t get any better, and then it hit him like a truck. Throughout the story, he speaks of Amanda in both positive and negative ways, although mostly in negative ways, for as the story progresses, so does his realization of the circumstances surrounding his loss of Amanda. But most of all, he speaks of the hurt that Amanda has inflicted upon him. “You .
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reminded her that she had said that they were all fags. She said “Au contraire, Pierre,” ripping the last strained tissues that held your heart intact.” (McInerney 76-77). .
Another internal conflict that the protagonist silently fought was the passing of his mother. At present time for the protagonist his mom has been dead for a year. He doesn’t talk about it much throughout the story, until a visit from his brother brings out buried emotions. The two talk about their mutual love for their mother, and the protagonist brings it one step further in a late night phone call to Vicky.