Conflict is an important part of any short story. The short story, "On the Sidewalk Bleeding," contains three major conflicts: man vs. man, man vs. nature, and man vs. himself.
In this essay, I intend to explain, prove, and analyze these three struggles. The most obvious and simplest struggle in "On the Sidewalk Bleeding" is man vs. man. "He [Andy] had been stabbed ten minutes ago. The knife had entered just below his rib cage and had been drawn across his body violently, tearing a wide gap in his flesh." This line describes the physical conflicts in "On the Sidewalk Bleeding." Andy's struggle with the Guardians involves several fights and rumbles in the past, and is typical of most youth gangs today.
At first, Andy believes this will be his only dilemma of the night. "That was a fierce rumble. They got me good that time," he thinks. At this point, only half an hour before his death, Andy is fully conscious and only worried about the big cut on his stomach that he expects is going to hurt in the morning. The second struggle in this short story is man vs. nature.
Most of the elements of nature and environment are against Andy, primarily the rain. It both prevents passerby from lending him a hand ("She [the old woman] did not hear Andy grunt... the rain was beating a steady relentless tattoo on the cans." ), and makes his physical situation even more uncomfortable ("With the rain beginning to chill him... ." ). Also, the time of day and his surroundings add to the hopelessness of the situation.
At night in an alleyway, fewer people are likely to walk by Andy than if he had been lying in the middle of the street on a sunny morning. If all these negative situations were reversed, one would argue that Andy might have survived. The final and most important conflict in "On the Sidewalk Bleeding" is man vs. himself. At the start of the story, Andy is in complete denial. "I can't be dying.
No, that's stupid. That doesn't make any sense at all." He still thinks he's going to go to the convenience store, back to the dance, apologize to Laura for being so late, and smoke a cigarette outside with his buddies. However, as time goes on, as the signs in his body tell him that he is, in fact, dying, he chooses to accept it, and feels no fear. Instead, he feels a sort of detached regret, a sad wish to have done more in his short life. Lying on the pavement in the rain, Andy muses over his past decisions and the decisions of others. "And he wondered suddenly if the Guardians who had ambushed him and knifed him had ever once realized he was Andy." In the last few minutes of his life, Andy realizes that there is no pride in being a Royal, a part of a gang.
The title and the jacket mean absolutely nothing, and are merely a covering to disguise him, to make him seem like a faceless Royal to other faceless Guardians. He now sees the jacket -- what he once thought of as a symbol of acceptance -- as a physical reminder that he literally gave his life away to be part of a group. In conclusion, "On the Sidewalk Bleeding" conveys a message about choices and individuality. Andy eventually realizes his mistakes, but not before he succumbs to a death he could " ve prevented by making the right choice.
The fact that he is shunned by everyone who sees him shows him and the reader that it is important to be yourself, to establish a name and a face for yourself, instead of conforming to a particularly attractive group. Once you " ve become faceless, there's no turning back, and Andy found that out the hard way.