Types of Conflict Found In Literature

By Katherine Docimo (En Español | En Français | Auf Deutsch)

Identifying major themes of literature and analyzing their development throughout a piece of text is part of ELA common core standards for grades 9-12 (Literacy.RL.9-10.2, Literacy.RL11-12.2). A common approach for this standard is to teach about the “Big Four” types of literary conflict: Man vs. Man, Man vs. Nature, Man vs. Society, and Man vs. Self.

Storyboard That is the perfect way to both engage high-school students in ELA class and teach them to identify the types of literary conflict. Visual cues in storyboards bring heady concepts such as Man vs. Society and Man vs. Self down to earth through “comic-strip” style illustrations and captions.

The "Big Four"

Teachers can create fun and easy-to-assess classwork that tasks high-school students with creating storyboards focusing on literary conflict. The linear nature of a storyboard mirrors the progression of conflict and reinforces learning.

Students create storyboards using details and characters pulled from text allowing teachers to determine almost immediately whether students comprehend the scope of the objectives.

Example Exercises:
  • Students identify the major conflict(s) of the class book via a storyboard.
  • Students create storyboards that show and explain, in their own words, the four different types of conflict.
  • Students create storyboards that show the major type of conflict in their own creative writing or lives.
  • Using empty storyboard templates on a test, have students fill in text boxes with dialogue that gives a clear example of each type of conflict and label them.

Teachers can customize the level of detail and number of cells required for projects based on available class time and resources.

Examples From Famous Books


Another advantage to storyboarding is the ease with which storyboard assignments can be graded and assessed via a rubric.

Example Rubric

Incomplete (1) Developing (2) Accomplished (3) Exemplary (4) Score
Text Comprehension Correctly identifies major conflict of text. Student does not attempt to identify major conflict or identifies incorrect major conflict with no explanation. Student identifies incorrect major conflict, and uses some details from the text to support their choice. Student identifies correct major conflict and uses few or unclear details to support their choice. Student identifies correct major conflict and uses strong, clear textual evidence to support choice.
Includes examples of textual events that are a result of the conflict. Student does not include any examples of plot points that are a direct cause of conflict. Student includes only vague or poorly explained examples of plot points that are a direct cause of conflict. Student includes at one clear example of plot points that are a direct cause of the major conflict category. Student includes at least two clear examples of plot points that are a direct cause of the major conflict category.
Shows example of the outcome of the conference on the protagonist. Student does not clearly show the outcome of the conflict or use textual evidence. Student shows the outcome of the conflict, but does not examine its effect on the protagonist and uses some vague textual evidence. Student shows the outcome of the conflict and its effect on the protagonist, but some evidence is unclear. Student clearly shows the outcome of the conflict and its effects on the protagonist with evidence from the text.
Includes relevant quotes from the text. Student does not include a quote. Student includes quote, but it contains errors or is not at all related to events presented in the storyboard. Student includes at least one quote, but it is not directly relevant to the events presented in the storyboard or has an error in punctuation, page #. Student includes at least one quote, with proper punctuation and page #, from the text that deals directly with the events presented in the storyboard.
Character Student names the protagonist and includes all major characters required by the text and instructor. Storyboard does not include the names of required characters. Storyboard includes protagonist and antagonist but leaves out other required characters. Storyboard includes all required characters, clearly named. Storyboard includes all required characters and clearly names them. Goes above and beyond by adding details or names of additional characters.
Storyboard Student uses Storyboard That tools to clearly and creatively convey the setting of the text. Student makes little or no attempt to convey the setting or scene. The setting and scene are not clearly conveyed. Storyboard attempts to convey setting and scene of the book, but lacks some clarity. Storyboard clearly shows effort to convey the setting the scene of the book
Spelling and Grammar Student uses correct spelling and grammar throughout entire storyboard. Student makes many errors in spelling and grammar, little attempt at spellchecking. Student may make several minor errors in spelling and grammar. Student may make a minor error in spelling and grammar. Student uses exemplary spelling and grammar. There are no errors.

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We have a large collection of example storyboards by our community. See what other people have created for inspiration.

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