Examining Plot Conflict through a Comparison/Contrast Essay

Students explore picture books to identify the characteristics of four types of conflict: character vs. character, character vs. self, character vs. nature, and character vs. society. Next, students write about conflict in their own lives and then look for similarities among all the conflicts shared by the class, ultimately classifying each conflict into one of the four types. Finally, after investigating the compare and contrast format, students conclude with a compare and contrast essay that focuses on two conflicts—one from their own experience and one from a picture book or story that they have read. This lesson teaches plot conflict and leads students to write an essay to compare/contrast events.

Standards & Objectives

Academic standards
GLE 0401.3.2
Write in a variety of modes and genres (e.g., narration, description, personal expression, imaginative writing, response to literature, response to subject...
GLE 0501.3.2
Write in various modes and genres, including narration, literary response, personal expression, description, and imaginative.
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Learning objectives: 

Student Objectives:

Students will

  • make predictions about the conflicts in the selected pieces of literature, based on selected illustrations from the stories. 
  • identify four types of conflict in literature (character vs. character, character vs. self, character vs. nature, character vs. society). 
  • make personal connections to plot conflict.
  • discuss specific conflicts as a small group or whole class. 
  • identify the variables that contributed to the conflicts through completion of a graphic organizer.
  • write a comparison/contrast essay, comparing a conflict they have had to one that a character has in a story they have read.

Lesson Variations

Blooms taxonomy level: 
Extension suggestions: 


  • Since conflict is so critical in the development of plot, invite the students to map out the plot of a story using the Plot Diagram Tool. 
  • While students in this lesson are writing a comparison/contrast essay on conflict in their lives and in literature, invite students to compare books and related films using the Get The Reel Scoop: Comparing Books to Movies lesson plan.
  • If your students need additional practice with the compare and contrast essay, use the ReadWriteThink lesson Teaching the Compare and Contrast Essay through Modeling.

Helpful Hints

Materials and Technology:

  • Selected books from the booklist 
  • Plot Conflict PowerPoint Presentation 
  • Chalkboard/Chart Paper/Overhead Projector