5th Grade - Identifying The Main Problem Of A Plot

 
     
 
     
 
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5th
Stories and Literature
Identifying the main problem of a plot
Identify the main problem or conflict of the plot and explain how it is resolved.
Be able to recognize the type of main conflict (character vs. character, character vs. self, character vs. society, character vs. nature) and say how it is solved or wrapped up at the end of the story.
 

Sample Problems

(1)

The hero struggling against the villain is which type of conflict? (character vs. character)

(2)

When the main character struggles against a blizzard, which type of conflict is it? (character vs. nature)

(3)

In which type of conflict does the main character fight against a larger group, such as a community, culture, or society? (character vs. society)

(4)

In which type of conflict does the main character experience inner doubt? (character vs. self)

(5)

What is the conclusion or solution of the story called? (the resolution)

Learning Tips

(1)

Vocabulary


Conflict– the dramatic struggle between two forces in the story or the problems characters face. Conflict gives the story its tension and suspense.


Plot- the structure or arrangement of events within a story.


Resolution- the conclusion or how the conflict of the story is solved and how loose ends are tied up.


(2)

Types of Conflict


The main types of conflict are:


1. Character vs. Character

The main character struggles against another character, usually with one side representing good and the other evil. As readers, we know one side will win out over the other.


2. Character vs. Nature

The main character must survive against the powerful forces of nature which are keeping the main character from his or her goals. Forces of nature include blizzards, thunderstorms, desert conditions, a violent sea, etc.


3. Character vs. Society

In a society, there are laws and rules that a group of people abides by. The main character is fighting against those laws and the community, culture, or other group that wants the character to conform to them.


4. Character vs. Self

The character is struggling within herself. One part of her wants to do one thing and another part wants to do the opposite. This is called internal conflict.


Other types of conflict, which are not usually seen at the fifth grade level, include character vs. fate, character vs. supernatural powers, and character vs. machine.


(3)

Deal Yourself A Story


Create your own story with a few guidelines. Create a deck of cards to help you.


1. Make “Character” cards with male and female names on them (you can use a phone book to choose interesting names if you would like).

2. Create “Conflict” cards with the four main types of conflict on them.

3. Create “Resolution” cards with story endings on them, such as, main character slays the dragon or main character returns home a hero.

4. You can also make additional cards, such as setting cards (snowy mountains, medieval castle, deserted island, etc) or helper cards (fairy queen, trusty dog, old woman), or anything that you would like.


Then shuffle your cards (keeping the piles separate) and draw one from each type. Can you connect them to make an interesting story?


(4)

Story Review

Find one short story or novel that you have read to go in each column. Are you surprised that you have read so many different types of stories? If you can’t think of one type, ask your librarian, teacher, parent, or friends for ideas. Then answer the questions about them.


Title of Short Story or Novel

What is the major problem or conflict in this story?

Why does this conflict occur?


How is the main problem solved?

Character vs. Character







Character vs. Nature





Character vs. Self





Character vs. Society





(5)

Different Endings


It can be hard for an author to write an ending that answers all the questions raised during the story, seems realistic, makes sense and also resolves the main conflict in a satisfying way. Try your hand at it!


Think about your favorite story. Which category does the conflict fall into? Now brainstorm at least five endings that are different from what happened in the story. Which is your favorite ending? Which is your least favorite? Why do you think the author chose to solve the main problem the way he or she did? Did the author answer all the questions you had when reading the story? How would you rate the real ending on a scale of one to ten (where ten is perfectly satisfying)?

Extra Help Problems

(1)

Which kind of conflict does this resolution go with: Main character beats his rival to win the karate championship. (character vs. character)


(2)

Which kind of conflict does this resolution go with: Main character realizes all he really needed was to trust himself. (character vs. self)

(3)

Which kind of conflict does this resolution go with: Main character fights through the snow to reach home safely. (character vs. nature)

(4)

Which kind of conflict does this resolution go with: Main character fights through the thunderstorm to reach home safely. (character vs. nature)

(5)

Which kind of conflict does this resolution go with: Main character works to change society from within. (character vs. society)

(6)

Which kind of conflict does this resolution go with: Main character moves away and finds a community that accepts him. (character vs. society)

(7)

Which kind of conflict does this resolution go with: Main character learns the language of his new home country and learns to fit in. (character vs. society)

(8)

Which kind of conflict includes struggling to build a fire to stay warm? (character vs. nature)

(9)

True or False: A main conflict of a character against his own fears is internal conflict. (true)

(10)

The only difference between internal and external conflict is

(11)

A disaster movie is an example of which kind of conflict? (character vs. nature)

(12)

A survival story is an example of which kind of conflict? (character vs. nature)

(13)

A James Bond movie has which kind of conflict? (character vs character)

(14)

A story about a man surviving a ship wreck has which kind of conflict? (character vs. nature)

(15)

A story about a woman who marries someone from a different culture has which kind of conflict? (character vs. society)

(16)

True or False: In a conflict between character and society, the character is often considered “rebellious”. (true)

(17)

True or False: Conflict can take many forms. (true)

(18)

True or False: A story’s resolution should show who won the conflict and how it happened. (true)

(19)

True or False: There are usually many problems in a story, but one should stand out as the main conflict. (true)

(20)

True or False: A story about one wolf against another wolf is considered character vs. character. (true)

(21)

True or False: A story about a natural disaster and how a human being can survive it is considered character vs. society. (false)

(22)

True of False: A story’s plot is how it ends. (false)

(23)

True or False: A story’s resolution is how it ends. (true)

(24)

True or False: Internal conflict can be a struggle against another character. (false)

(25)

True or False: External conflict can be a struggle against nature, society, or another character. (true)

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