What’s an external conflict in “Hidden Figures”?

Updated 21 March, 2023
An external conflict in "Hidden Figures" is the racism and sexism that the African American women mathematicians faced while working at NASA during the 1960s. The women faced discrimination and were not given the same opportunities as their white male colleagues. They had to fight for their rights to work on important projects and to receive the recognition they deserved. This conflict is a prominent theme throughout the book and is an example of how individuals can work to overcome societal injustices.
Detailed answer:

External conflict refers to the struggle that a character faces against an outside force, and in "Hidden Figures," there are several examples of external conflicts. One such example is the discrimination that the African-American female mathematicians faced in the workplace, a conflict that was prevalent throughout the book. The segregation policies of the time were a constant obstacle to their success and prevented them from gaining equal opportunities in their field.

One scene that highlights this external conflict occurs when Mary Jackson tries to take classes at an all-white school to earn the credits she needs to become an engineer. When she confronts the white principal of the school, he tells her that the school does not accept black students. Mary is forced to go to court to fight for her right to attend the school, and she wins the case. This external conflict shows the systematic racism and segregation that black people faced in the 1960s and how it affected their daily lives.

Another example of an external conflict in "Hidden Figures" is the Soviet Union's competition with the United States in the space race. This conflict drives the plot of the story and provides the main motivation for the characters' work at NASA. The pressure to beat the Soviet Union in space exploration creates intense competition among the scientists, and they work tirelessly to find new and innovative ways to succeed.

In summary, "Hidden Figures" showcases several external conflicts, including racism and segregation and the competition between the United States and the Soviet Union. These conflicts serve as obstacles that the characters must overcome in their pursuit of success, and they highlight the challenges that individuals face when fighting against external forces that are out of their control.

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