Throughout life, many people will be placed into situations of conflict. However, these conflicts may become a beneficial learning experience for some, but for others those conflicts may become dream shattering and life altering. In the short story "Horses of the Night" by Margaret Laurence, the character Chris is faced with many challenges. External conflicts can be seen involving Chris and the Grandfather, along with Chris and the environment. In conjunction with the external conflicts are the internal ones which can be seen within Chris. These conflicts ultimately prevent Chris of ever reaching his goal of becoming a civil engineer.
The conflict within the story between Chris and Grandfather is a differentiation of opinions. Since Chris' father chose unproductive land, going against the Grandfathers advice, the Grandfather now sees Chris as a hassle. The poor choice made by his father has in turn limited Chris of any support from Grandfather. Without this support Chris, like most people, develop a sense of lost hope towards their dreams.
Children must be supported by their parents and loved ones in every way possible to gain the knowledge and assurance that is needed to achieve any dream. As stated by Grandfather Connor, "If he takes after his father, it's poor lookout for him," (Laurence 53). Due to this conflict, Chris is never able to gain the support from his Grandfather and those around him. Without encouragement, people such as Chris find it very hard to attain their goal in life. Furthermore, Chris "hasn't got two cents to rub together" (Laurence 53). In society, financial security or wealth determines how a certain individual will do in life.
This stereotype is not only detrimental to society but also to the individual. Without support of others, people will never reach their goals in life due to the lack of support. As a result of the external conflict between Chris and Grandfather Connor, the dream for Chris to become a civil engineer may never be reached. Not only does the conflict between Chris and Grandfather effect Chris' dream but also the external conflict with his own environment. A major external conflict for Chris is the absence of wealth in his family.
Without money, Chris, like most people cannot survive in a biased society. To provide for himself Chris had to fight to maintain a steady income with many different jobs. The plans to "get rich quick" are in most aspects an unattainable goal. Certain jobs take many years of hard, extensive work, and personal sacrifice without the guarantee of a steady income. Without a steady income, the schooling required to attain a profession is not possible.
Physical appearance is also a large stereotype seen in today's culture. This is shown in the response from Grandma upon meeting Chris, "Heavens, look at the shirt and trousers" (Laurence 52). Since Western society is mainly based on financial security, people like Chris, who lack the appearance of being prosperous and secure, will never be able to pursue a dream in a culture where wealthier people hold the upper hand. Without financial aid or support along with the extensive cost of schooling, the ability for less wealthier individuals to prosper is decreased.
Because of the detrimental stereotypes within society that come with financial security, the probability of an individual, including Chris, to prosper is limited. The internal conflicts within Chris also prevent him from achieving his dream. Throughout this short story Chris "simply appeared to be absent," and never partook in normal everyday events (Laurence 50). In today's ever-changing, fast pace society those individuals that cannot adapt to change are doomed to fail. Mental capability is a factor when choosing a person for a job. The ability for an individual to cope mentally and physically in life will determine how they will survive in the work force.
Those who are mentally incapable in society are stricken to a life of solitude, which is depicted in Chris' character. Chris had to mentally escape any situations he was exposed to, to cope with reality. This mental escape is seen by society as a weakness, due to the instability of that individual. Without mental strength, people cannot expect prosperity or growth in life.
Throughout the short story, Chris' mind and body were detached and seemed that he "Didn't live inside it anymore." (Laurence 70). The reality of life for some can become too much to handle. This can later lead to a complete breakdown of body and mind. The strength and coping skills that come with successfully completing post secondary schooling and being placed in a secure working environment must grow with an individual. Without this growth in an ever-changing world the success of an individual will be lost. The mental escape that Chris chooses in the story weakens his ability to follow through with his dream of becoming a civil engineer.
In conclusion, both external and internal conflicts are cast in the way of Chris achieving his dream. This can be seen in the peripheral conflict involving Chris and Grandfather, Chris and his environment and the internal conflict within himself. All these conflicts are enough of a deterrent to keep Chris' dream of becoming a civil engineer an aspiration instead of a reality. Throughout life many different people will be faced with many different challenges. But with the words of Hamilton Marie "Don't be afraid of opposition. Remember, a kite rises against; not with; the wind.".