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Conflict in Bud, Not Buddy

Instructor: Shelley Vessels

Shelley has taught at the middle school level for 10 years and has a master's degree in teaching English.

In this lesson, be treated to a quick refresher to conflict in literature, and an in-depth look at conflict in 'Bud, Not Buddy' by Christopher Paul Curtis.

What is Conflict in Literature?

Have you ever had a conflict with a friend? Did you know those are used in literature all the time? Every story has some type of conflict that is a major part of the plot. The conflict is something that the character needs to battle or overcome and will likely do, if only in part, before the story ends. Conflicts can include character vs. nature, character vs. character, character vs. society and character vs. self. In Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis, the main character, Bud Caldwell, is involved in several conflicts throughout the novel, including:

  • Character vs. Character: this is a character's battle, either verbal or physical, against another character
  • Character vs. Society: this is a character's battle against something in society (racism, poverty, etc.)

Examples of Character vs. Character in Bud, Not Buddy

  • Bud vs. The Amos Family

When Bud is placed in the miserable Amos's foster home, a character vs. character conflict exists. Bud physically battles their son, Todd, and Mrs. Amos retaliates by acting harshly to Bud. However, Bud gets the last laugh in the conflict by making it seem like Todd wets his pants, something that his mother despises.

  • Bud vs. Herman E. Calloway

Immediately after meeting Herman E. Calloway for the first time, and insisting that he is Bud's father, Bud and Calloway have a strained relationship. Calloway is gruff, threatens to return Bud to Flint, and warns him not to touch anything in his house, even though there is a possibility the two could be related. Although it isn't actually stated, there is promise at the end of the novel when Calloway realizes that Bud is his grandson.

Examples of Character vs. Society in Bud, Not Buddy

  • Bud vs. Poverty

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