Person vs Society Conflict

Types of Conflict in Literature - Person vs Society

In a person vs society conflict in literature, a character struggles against the laws or beliefs of a group. The character fights against the rules such as freedom, rights, or a cause.

For elementary students, this type of conflict can be explained in simple terms such as “Sometimes, people face problems caused by what other people think or believe. It could be something like not being allowed to do something because of who you are or having to stand up for what you believe in even if everyone else thinks differently. These problems can be really tough to overcome, but the person has to find a way to stay true to themselves and what they believe in.”

Types of Conflict Organizer

Types of Conflict in Literature Organizer

Use this organizer/booklet independently or place it inside an interactive notebook.  On each page, students write a definition and give examples of the type of conflict. On the final page, students summarize internal and external conflicts.

Download the organizer here.

In this quiz, students read short passages from novels and answer questions related to types of conflict in the literature about the passages. A link to the Google Doc version of the quiz is included in the pdf for teachers who wish to alter the quiz to meet the needs of students.

Download the Types of Conflict quiz here.

Teaching Person vs Society Conflict in Literature with Movie Trailers

The Rosa Parks Story
Play Video about The Rosa Parks Story

The Rosa Parks Story

Rosa Parks fights against the rules of society by refusing to sit in the back of the bus.

Play Video about Elysium


In the year 2154, the very wealthy live in a man-made luxurious space station. The rest of the population lives on a ruined Earth.

In Time
Play Video about In Time

In Time

In 2169, people stop aging at 25 years old. Society uses time as the universal currency. Implanted clocks tell people the amount of time they have accumulated. When a person’s clock reaches zero, the person dies. The wealthy have years on their clocks while the poor have only minutes.

Play Video about Pleasantville


A brother and sister get zapped into an idealistic TV show from the 1950s. 

The Giver
Play Video about The Giver

The Giver

In this perfect community, all suffering, pain, differences, and choice are taken away. A young boy learns from an elderly man named “The Giver” about pain and pleasure in the “real world.”

The City of Ember
Play Video about The City of Ember

The City of Ember

Ember is an underground city threatened by aging infrastructure. When Lina finds part of an ancient message, she races to figure out the secret that will save the people in her society.

The Hunger Games
Play Video about The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games is an annual event in which one boy and one girl between the ages of 12-18 from each of the twelve districts surrounding the Capitol are selected by a lottery to compete in a televised battle to the death.

Book Examples to use for Teaching Person vs Society Conflict

Picture Books

  • The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss
  • The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister
  • The Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Andersen
  • Grace for President by Kelly S. DiPucchio
  • Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe
  • Fly Away Home by Eve Bunting
  • The Island of Skog by Steven Kellogg
  • The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf
  • The Biggest Bear by Lynd Ward

Children’s Literature

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor

Cassie Logan, a young African American girl, grows up in rural Mississippi during the Great Depression in this novel. She experiences the racism and prejudice of the time. Cassie struggles to understand the injustices around her and fights against them.

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

In this classic novel, a pig named Wilbur befriends a spider named Charlotte who helps him avoid being slaughtered for meat. Wilbur struggles to escape his fate as societal norms and expectations dictate how animals are treated.

The Giver by Lois Lowry:

In this dystopian novel, the main character, Jonas, lives in a society where everything is controlled by the government, including emotions, relationships, and memories. The government controls everything in the society where the main character, Jonas, lives, including emotions, relationships, and memories.

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton:

A small town experiences person vs society conflicts between two rival gangs, the Greasers and the Socs, in this novel. The story highlights the tensions between social classes and the prejudices that exist in society.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle:

The main character, Meg, and her friends fight against a dark force that is taking over the universe. The conflict between Meg and the society she lives in is represented by the conformity and lack of imagination that she encounters in her school and community.

Holes by Louis Sachar:

The protagonist, Stanley, struggles against the unjust and oppressive social system of the juvenile detention center. In the end, he breaks free from the constraints of society and finds redemption.

The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau:

 The main characters, Lina and Doon, battle against the corrupt and failing social order of their underground city. They fight to save their society from destruction and establish a new, more just system.

The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis:

The Watson family faces the social turmoil and racial tensions of the civil rights movement. They learn to fight against racism and stand up for what is right.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner:

The protagonist, Thomas, struggles against the oppressive and mysterious social structure of the Glade and the Maze. He uncovers the truth and fights against the dystopian society.

Wringer by Jerry Spinelli:

The main character, Palmer, battles against the brutal and cruel tradition of wringing pigeons’ necks in his town. He stands up against societal pressure and fights for change.

Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix:

The protagonist, Luke, battles against the restrictive and oppressive government policies that forbid him from living freely as a third child. He fights for his right to exist and challenges the social order.

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry:

The main character, Annemarie, fights against the oppressive Nazi regime and the persecution of Jewish people in Denmark. She works to save her Jewish friend from being captured by the authorities.

Types of Conflict Organizer

This organizer/booklet may be used independently or placed inside an interactive notebook.  On each page, students write a definition and give examples of the type of conflict. On the final page, students summarize internal and external conflicts.

Download the organizer here.

Gay Miller

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1 comment

  1. Gay, Wow! Thank you. What a fantastic resource! I love the booklet and the examples of each type of conflict in film. You’ve just reduced my workload and made it easy to increase student engagement. Thank you.

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