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Conflicts in Sunday in the Park

a public park one Sunday afternoon. Morton, his wife, and their son Larry are spending some quality family time together at a park—Morton is reading the Times Magazine section, his wife is reading a book beside him, and their son Larry is playing in a sandbox along with another boy. Conflict starts when the other boy throws sand at Larry. This seemingly small incident would turn out to be a significant event as it would teach us more profound issues in life. We would learn one aspect of social conflict between different classes and the nature of unresolved conflicts to create more problems.

Conflict Between Classes At first glance, the short story’s conflict may just be noticed between Morton and the father of the other boy, but a closer look at the social standings of the characters involved would reveal that it is as much a conflict between two social classes as much as it is a “battle” between two fathers. The family of Morton represents the middle class while the family of the other, “bigger” man represents the lower class. If they are not from the middle and lower classes respectively, at least it is clear that Morton’s family is of higher standing than the other man.

The short story begins by describing the actions of Morton’s wife. “She put her book down on the bench, removed her sunglasses, and sighed contentedly. ” (Kaufman, 1985 p. 1). This is a sign that Morton’s family is from a higher social standing than the other man because she is reading a book. It is not because lower class people do not read; it is just that the other man in the story was just reading a comic off the Sunday paper. “He was a big man, and he seemed to be taking up the whole bench as he held the Sunday Comics close to his face.

” (Kaufman, 1985 p. 1 ). Morton himself is described was described as a person with an academic background. He too was reading at the opening paragraph. “Morton was reading the times magazine section,” (Kaufman, 1985 p. 1). Compared to the “Big Man,” Morton and his wife are more likely to be from the middle class based on the material they were reading. The way the “Big Man” behaves also tells clues of his possible social stature. “He did not look up from his comics, but spat one deftly out of the corner of his mouth. ” (Kaufman, 1985 p. 1).

This kind of behavior is more closely attributed to lower class people than the middle class. These pieces of evidence suggest that conflict arises from conflicting social classes. In the real world, the higher class usually gets away with things. In the story however, we learn that it is not always the case. Morton refused to resolve the conflict, and his failure to do so resulted in a conflict with his wife. Unresolved Conflicts Unresolved conflicts often lead to more conflicts. When Morton decided to avoid dealing with the lower class man, it created a conflict between him and his wife.

Although Morton’s wife felt she wanted her husband to walk away at first, she clearly and really wanted Morton to engage the father of the boy throwing sand at Larry. “She wanted to put her hand on her husband’s sleeve, to pull him down, but for some reason she didn’t. ” (Kaufman, 1985 p. 2). The reason she didn’t is because she wanted to see her husband stand up for his family, and when he did not, she felt let down and somewhat ashamed towards her husband. Larry was crying, and Morton wanted him to shut up. Morton was about to do the “disciplining himself but she was stopped by his wife’s remarks.

She was shocked to hear it, thin and cold and penetrating with contempt. ‘Indeed? ‘ she heard herself say. ‘You and who else? ‘” (Kaufman, 1985 p. 3). The story ends with that phrase, with Kaufman leaving the readers to wonder whether the conflict between the couple would be resolved or not. Conclusion Some natures of conflict that can be learned through reading of Sunday in the Park are that conflict tends to arise from two different social classes, and unresolved conflicts can only lead to more conflicts in the end.

These are fairly significant lessons considering that the main conflict in the story starts out as a petty playground fight between children. Obviously, the conflicts were not resolved, but what readers can get from the unresolved conflicts is that things like these needed to be resolved right away in order to avoid further conflicts.


Kaufman, B. (1985). Sunday in the Park. Retrieved May 17, 2009, from http://sussexhigh. nbed. nb. [email protected]%20Park [email protected] pdf. pp. 1-3

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