Extraorinary Conflicts Essay Research Paper Extraordinary Conflicts

Extraorinary Conflicts Essay, Research Paper

Extraordinary Conflicts

“Ordinary People”

Ordinary People by Judith Guest is a very emotional book that deals with many

thoughts and actions about life and suicide. A lot of people would have different opinions

or perspectives about this story. My thesis question for this book is: Does the author

Judith Guest try to prove that even the perfect family can fall apart? In this novel, regular

or ?ordinary people? have to learn to cope with many extraordinary crises.

In Ordinary People, Conrad Jarrett is a seventeen year old boy attending a public

high school in the suburbs of Illinois. He and his family go through many stressful

struggles after Conrad?s brother Jordan dies in a boating accident. Jordan?s death

influences Conrad so much that he even cuts up his wrists and tries to commit suicide but

he does not die. Conrad struggles with a lot of things including school, quitting the

swimming team, and his friends. Conrad?s mother Beth, is a perfectionist and is always

concerned about the way people view her and her family. She wishes for everyone to see

them as ?normal?. Conrad?s Dad Cal feels he is somewhat responsible for Conrad?s

suicide attempt. He also believes that Conrad and Beth are drifting away from each other

and he doesn?t know who to follow. The story ends when Beth leaves home to go away

for a while because she can?t get along with her family.

In this book, the title does give a clue about a possible theme. The term ?ordinary

people? is mentioned several times in this book. There can be many different themes for

this book although my theme did not come from the title. My theme is: even a perfect

family can fall apart and sometimes fall into a mental stress, due to a life changing event. I

think this because everything is perfect before Jordan dies. Everything and everyone

seems to fall apart after his accident. For example, Conrad attempts to commit suicide as

a result of Jordan?s death and some more various other reasons. One time in the book,

Conrad says ?I wanted to commit suicide because I needed more sleep and less stress?.

The main conflict in this book for the Jarrett family is learning to cope with

extraordinary crises. The whole Jarrett family tries to cope with Jordan?s death but they

don?t succeed very well. This conflict affects Conrad the most since he attempted to kill

himself. Other small conflicts seem to build around this major conflict. For example, after

Conrad tried to kill himself, his mother thought that he was trying to hurt her for some

reason. She never feels the need to forgive him for what he has done to himself. This

brings much tension between Conrad and his mother Beth. This small problem also affects

Cal?s and Beth?s relationship with each other because they fight often and do not get along

very well.

There are a few unusual objects in this story that I think changes the mood of some

characters. One unusual object is a small business card in Dr. Berger?s office. The card

reads, ?I love you. Is this ok? signed Jesus C.? This is unusual because it is almost like

Jesus Christ is talking to Conrad personally. Conrad and his family does not ever turn to

Jesus Christ for help in these hard times. Another unusual object is Conrad?s new car.

Conrad thinks that his parents are only giving it to him just to be saying, ?here now be

happy and leave us alone?. Although Conrad?s parents do not actually feel this way about

it, Conrad does.

The dialogue in this story is very realistic. The dialogue seems to be focusing on

the Jarrett family and how realistic and dramatic things can be. The character?s words say

a lot about the character. Conrad?s words for example, are honest and dramatic. I think

Conrad is the heroic one because he overcomes many tough obstacles in life. I also

believe that he is the protagonist in this story and his struggle with the obstacles is the


One main internal conflict is one between Conrad and himself. He struggles with

many changes in life and he wants to please everyone. His worst struggle and biggest fear

was suicide and the thought of it. He continually struggles with the thoughts of suicidal

attempts and the fears that go with them. Conrad also has a conflict in his head because

he asks himself weird questions and doesn?t even know why. He also has terrible

nightmares that are internal. He often has a terrible nightmare about his near death

experience in the hospital and what people thought about him.

There are many small and large motivates in this story. I think that Conrad is

motivated the most by his brothers death, therefore he tries to end his own life. Another

motivate that is important to him is his girlfriend Jeannine. She is always there for him and

allows him to feel needed. Jeanine is the only one that asks Conrad about what he felt

when he tried to commit suicide. When bad things cross Conrad?s mind, he easily thinks

of Jeanine and therefore is motivated to do the right thing for himself.

There are also many external conflicts in Ordinary People. One external conflict is

between Conrad and Beth. Conrad and his mother do not communicate very well because

they are both too stubborn and too unwilling to forgive each other. Beth will not forgive

Conrad simply because he was very wrong to try to attempt suicide. Conrad will not

forgive her because he thinks she absolutely hates him. Also, Beth and Cal experience and

external conflict. They have seemed to grow apart and they often question their love for

each other. One reason they fight is because Cal lets Conrad run over him a lot and he

talks back to Cal a lot. Beth does not agree with him at all so she gets irritated easily.

They also fight when deciding on whether to go on a vacation. Conrad also experiences

conflicts with his friends. He believes that most of his friends are ?pricks? and they could

care less about him. He does not realize how important friends are. This happens after he

gets in a fight with a boy after quitting the swimming team. His friends do not understand

why his actions and reactions to them have changed so much. All of these conflicts lead

up to the turning point of the book when Conrad discovers that he must forgive himself

and his mother. During his therapy with Dr. Berger, Conrad says, ?I think I just figured

something out.? ?What?s that?? says Berger. Then Conrad says, ?Who is it who can?t

forgive who.?

As you can see in this book, Judith Guest does prove that even the perfect family

can fall apart. Everything started to crumble for Conrad, Cal, and Beth when Jordan died

in his accident. It was hard for me to understand the beginning of the book because the

chapters go back and forth, depending on who was narrating them. The end of the book

was easier for me because everything started falling into place and I was able to see all

sides of the story. I honestly enjoyed Ordinary People, and I would recommend it to

others. This family may seem very odd at times but after all, they are just ?ordinary

people?. I think the narrator best states the end of the book when they are talking about

Conrad saying: ?No need for anymore words. The sun is on his back . He could fall

asleep here, maybe he will, waiting for whatever comes next.


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