Foolish Pride in Judith Guest's Ordinary People


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Foolish Pride in Ordinary People

 

In the book Ordinary People, the author Judith Guest portrays a "normal" family, living in Lake Forest, struggling with many problems on the inside, but trying their best to hide their feelings. This book explores the need for everyone to act normal, and ordinary, and even though everyone in the book had a huge problem eating them from the inside, they didn't want anyone to know something was wrong.

 

Many characters in the book hid from their problems. By the end of the book most of them managed to get better, but some of them were gone for good. In the book, Conrad struggled with perfection. He tried to be the obedient son, the good student, and eventually everything got to him so much, he felt the only way to escape was to try and kill himself. "An obedient boy. Polite, well mannered. Even in the hospital, with his fingernails bitten to bloody half-moons, the dark circles, bloody bruises under his eyes; always always his behavior was proper" (13). Conrad was strung too tight, fortunately by the end of the book he learned to relax, and not to stress too much about everything. Unfortunately this wasn't true for all the characters.

 

Everyone viewed Conrad's mother, Beth, as perfect. Beth always had to have everything organized, neat. She had to be in control. Everything about her on the outside seems perfect. "Gracious as always, but Cal knows she doesn't like this. She is wearing a white-knit pantsuit, a long-sleeved black blouse, her hair tied back from her face with a black scarf. She does look gorgeous" (64). After her first son Buck died, and her second son Conrad tried to kill himself, she starts to realize that her family is falling apart, but she can't help them. Beth is all about appearance, how she and her family seem to other people. She can't handle talking about major problems, even when they involve the people she loves.

 

Calvin, Conrad's father tries to be helpful to everyone. He is very caring to his son, and tries very hard with his wife Beth. It seems that Cal gives himself away to everyone, making sure his family is ok, but never worried about himself.

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"Foolish Pride in Judith Guest's Ordinary People." 123HelpMe.com. 22 Oct 2017
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Cal wants everything to go well, ordinary, by the plan. He worries when he sees his son quit swim practice and doesn't tell him. Cal is scared that he's going to miss another sign showing Calvin might try to do something again. "He looks, really looks this time at the thin, vertical scar that extends up the inside of his arm, above the line. "He meant business," the intern told him. You were damn lucky to catch him"(70). Calvin worries a lot about everyone, and he feels guilty for Conrad and Buck, even though none of it was his fault.

 

All of these main characters in the book had many problems they had to deal with, and struggled with trying to look ordinary to the world. To make sure no one knew anything was wrong. The energy they put into pretending everything was fine was more than necessary. Since society decides what's normal and ordinary, and every person in society has problems, hiding from everyone, not talking about what's going on isn't right. If people dropped their masks and unveiled their true feelings, it will make everyone feel better. Everyone can lead stronger fuller lives, and that can be the new ordinary.

 


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