Conflict requires you to analyze the SOURCE and SOLUTION of the main character's problem or question in the story.

There are four literary divisions of conflict: Main character here is abbreviated with the word "man".

The main character, of course, can be a man or woman ;)

man vs. himself

includes man vs. god/faith

man vs. man

man vs. nature

includes man vs. supernatural

man vs. society

Examples of Internal Conflicts:

What is the meaning of life? Is XXX the one I really love? Why does God seem to punish good people and let the bad go unpunished? Should I eat that fattening food/drink that drink/take that drug or should I just say no!

The definition for internal conflict:
If the source/solution to the problem lies within the main character's power to affect, then it is an internal conflict. These often revolve around the main character making a decision, or coming to terms with an issue.

External Conflicts

If the source/solution to the problem lies "outside" of the main character's power to affect then it is an external conflict. In other words, if the character can not change the conflict by making a decision... or wishing the problem away, then it is an external conflict.

Examples of external conflicts are:

Is that guy going to kill me? Do my neighbors look down on me because I am black/ a woman,/ disabled/ poor/ Catholic/jewish/different? Is that ghost going to get me? How CAN we exorcise that devil from my friend? Am I going to freeze/drown/starve/fall off the/mountain...?

Examples from our stories so far:

The Lottery = external conflict: man (woman) vs. society

Tess is faced with unfair traditions imposed on her by the townspeople (society).

To Build a Fire = external conflict: man vs. nature

The trapper is faced with the external conflict of freezing to death.

Click here to read an analysis of conflict in Clean Well Lighted Place
by Earnest Hemingway