Conflict and adversity is an inevitable part of all of our lives. Yet, many people have different reactions to the conflict they face in their own individual scenarios. For a lucky few, conflict can serve as a point of resistance where the individual can rise above adversity and embrace a strong sense of inner pride and strength as seen in Mia Angelou's poem "Still I Rise"; however, there are other cases where the conflict is simply too great, and it can break the individual, causing them to act either irrationally as in Mordecai Ritchler's The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, or can throw one into a deep state of depression, as seen in Alex Colville's wartime painting.
In some instances, resistance can often lead to an increased inner strength. This is seen most in Maya Angelou's poem "Still I Rise." Here, the narrator is obviously reacting towards some sort of conflict that was meant to disenfranchise or chaste her. Knowing a little about Angelou's own background, it is possible this conflict comes from her being both African-American and a woman during a time period where both were subjugated by the white male majority. Angelou's narrative undoubtedly holds some of her own sentiments, as having to deal with the conflict of constantly being disenfranchised because of her race and gender. Her narrator here in this particular poem still proves strong and prideful, despite the conflict she faces. She is seen as an adversary to some unknown opponent, who wishes to strike her down at any available chance. Here, she writes, "You may write me down in history / With your bitter, twisted lies, / You may trod me in the very dirt." Yet, the narrator is not scared or discouraged by this conflict. Rather, she responds with an interesting emotional show of pride and character. Instead of being beaten by the conflict in front of her, she seems to feed on it. She does succumb to the conflict at hand, but rather rises above it. In this, she writes "cause I walk like I've got oil wells / Pumping in my living room / Just like moons and like suns, / With the certainty of tides, / Just like hopes springing high, / Still I rise." The narrator clearly sees any conflict as a mere obstacle which she will rise above and conquer. Additionally, she threatens the very source of the conflict with her own realness of being. She questions the authority which tries to hold her down as she rises above it. Thus, Angelou is very beautifully illustrating how many choose to rise above the conflicts that could potentially hold them down.
Still, the majority of people tend to react poorly when faced with conflict and adversity. It is hard to remain as strong as the narrator in Angelou's poem did, as the next two pieces clearly show. First, Mordecai Ritchler's book The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz features a main protagonist who is plagued by his own sense of guilt and insignificance. He is faced with conflict almost on a daily basis, with the constant reminder of a lost love, and the mounting bills that threaten his financial and mental stability. In the face of this conflict, he does not rise above to conquer as Angelou's narrator did, but rather he crumbles. He turns to irrational actions, crying at random bursts, and letting the guilt of a fateful phone call to an old teacher continue to push him further and further into an erratic state of depression. Although not as intense as Ritchler's work, Colville's painting shows the same type of despair and depression that can plague the individual or the group when faced with extreme conflict. The painting reflects on the horrors of war, and how it can tear down the morale of an entire nation. The soldiers all march bleakly with their heads down, almost helpless to an impending doom that seems to await them. To many, the horrors of war are simply too much to be able to rise above.
Some can cope with conflict, and can even thrive on the sense of pride it gives them. However, others seem to be utterly broken by it altogether. Individual reactions depend on the nature of the conflict and the strength of the individual. No matter which direction the individual goes, it is clear that conflict has a major impact on the emotional health and stability of…