In a person vs. the environment conflict in literature, a character struggles against nature’s forces. A person may be fighting against bad weather conditions such as a hurricane or blizzard, surviving in the wild including the desert or jungle, or against a wild animal.
For elementary students, this type of conflict can be explained in simple terms such as “Sometimes, people have to face problems that are caused by nature or their surroundings. It could be something like getting lost in the woods or having to deal with a big storm. These problems can be really tough to overcome, but the person has to find a way to solve them and keep going.”
Types of Conflict 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.
In this quiz, students read short passages from novels and answer questions related to types of conflict in 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.
Teaching Person vs. the Environment Conflict in Literature with Movie Trailers
A mountain climber becomes trapped under a boulder while rock climbing alone near Moab, Utah.
A Fed Ex executive survives a crash landing on a deserted island.
The Day After Tomorrow
A paleoclimatologist must make a trek across America to reach his son while the climates plunge into the subzero level.
A comet must be destroyed before it collides with Earth.
A climbing expedition on Mt. Everest is devastated by a severe snowstorm.
Book Examples to use for Teaching Person vs. the Environment Conflict
- The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry
- Peggony Po: A Whale of a Tale by Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney
- The Legend of Bluebonnet by Tomie dePaola
- Ghost Eye Tree by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault
- Brave Irene by William Steig
- The Last Dinosaur by Jim Murphy
- The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
- The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
- The Big Snow by Berta Hader and Elmer Hader
- Come On, Rain! by Karen Hesse
Hatchet by Gary Paulsen:
In this novel, a young boy named Brian Robeson becomes stranded in the Canadian wilderness after his plane crashes. He must learn to survive on his own with only a hatchet as his tool. The conflict between Brian and the environment is clear, as he struggles to find food and shelter and fend off dangerous animals.
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell:
This story is based on the true story of a young girl named Karana who was stranded on an island off the coast of California for 18 years. Karana must learn to survive on her own, finding food and shelter while also defending herself against wild dogs and other dangers. The environment, represented by the harsh island landscape, poses a constant threat to Karana’s survival.
The Call of the Wild by Jack London:
This novel follows the story of a domesticated dog named Buck who is kidnapped and sold to be a sled dog in the harsh and brutal environment of the Klondike Gold Rush. Buck must learn to adapt to the new, unforgiving environment and struggle against other dogs and humans in order to survive.
My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George:
In this book, a young boy named Sam Gribley runs away from home to live in the wilderness of the Catskill Mountains. He must learn to survive on his own, finding shelter, food, and water while also dealing with dangerous animals and harsh weather conditions.
The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss:
This classic story follows the Robinson family as they are shipwrecked on a deserted island. The family must learn to survive in their new environment, build shelter, find food, and defend themselves against wild animals. The conflict between the family and the environment is constant throughout the novel, as they face numerous challenges and dangers in their quest for survival.
Call It Courage by Armstrong Sperry:
Mafatu must overcome his fear of the ocean and the dangers that come with it in order to prove his bravery and independence to his tribe. He leaves home and goes to an isolated island where he must learn to survive and thrive in the harsh environment around him.
The Cay by Theodore Taylor:
Phillip is stranded on a small island with an elderly African American man named Timothy. The harsh environment of the island and the challenges of survival, including a hurricane, become obstacles that Phillip and Timothy must overcome together in order to survive.
Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls:
Billy must navigate the rough terrain of the Ozark Mountains in order to hunt and trap raccoons with his dogs. Billy overcomes a mountain lion, Little Ann fall into a raging icy river, and a blizzard in the novel.
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.