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Conflict is indeed a key aspect of family life. It happens on a daily basis in almost every home in the country; even the Waltons had conflict with each other. I have the view that conflict is a corner stone of our life; it can help bring us together, not just drive us apart. During Flight this is particularly apparent, but in Your shoes conflict seems to have a negative effect. At the beginning of Flight the ‘old man’ seems to be looking for conflict; “‘Hey! ‘ he shouted; saw her jump…
‘Waiting for Steven, hey?’ he said, his fingers curling like claws into his palm. ” Within thirty lines Lessing had set the scene for the family tension and demonised the old man. As Flight progresses we find out that the old man only causes the conflict in an effort to retain his last granddaughter, which removes most of the negative feeling. The turning point, the point where the old man’s conflict is lost, is central to the story; “On the wrist of the post master’s son balanced a young pigeon, the light gleaming on its breast. ‘For me?’ said the old man, letting the drops shake of his chin.
‘For me? ‘” The relationship brought the granddaughter and her mother together because they were both united against the old man, but when the post master’s son gives him the bird as a peace offering he lets go of his anger and is drawn closer to his family, even though his family is moving further away. The repetition of ‘For me? ‘ is the strongest indicator of this new found peace with his family, showing his sincerity and to an extent his acceptance of the marriage of his granddaughter.
In Your shoes the opposite of Flight happens. The conflict of the father aimed at the girl and the girl aimed at the mother was all bottled up, until a small and almost insignificant fuse was lit. Your shoes is narrated only by the mother so we get a very bias account of events leading up to the daughter’s departure. We mainly have to read between the lines and make assumptions, such as the daughter and mother often rowed. However there are brief accounts which seem to be the real truth and not just the mother’s perception;
“You’ve got to understand. When your father called you a dirty slut he didn’t mean you to take it personally. It was just a manner of speaking. In the heat of the moment. He adores you, you know that. ” Here the mother tackles the main reason for her daughter’s exit and defends it. She first clears him of any blame and then claims he loves her. I feel from her explanation that she almost doesn’t believe it her self because of her short snappy and almost panicky sentences.
In conclusion I believe that conflict is common in family life and Flight and Your shoes are just two of hundreds of short stories which try to convey the subject. Flight shows a better side of conflict where it is resolved peacefully and ultimately brings the family closer, where as Your shoes attempts to convey an uglier side to conflict, resulting in distancing the father and the daughter and turning the mother into a nervous wreck not knowing what to believe.