Ordinary Feelings in Judith Guest's Ordinary People

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Ordinary Feelings in Ordinary People Ordinary People is a book that examines the life of a typical American family that seems to have it all together. It exposes the major conflicts among them; pain, misunderstanding, hurt, forgiveness, and ultimately if possible healing. Conrad - with the story told mostly through his perspective, he being the one furthering the resulting course of events and at the same time the protagonist and antagonist ? is the main character of the story. While boating on a lake with his older brother, a fierce gale picks up capsizing their boat and eventually leading to the death of his brother when he drowns. A failed suicide attempt by Conrad reveals how much he blames himself for the tragic turn of events and the lack of communication between him and his parents. The process of healing is painfully slow till the end. Conrad visits a psychiatrist, the conflict with his mother continues to grow and he somewhat patches up the relationship with his father. In the very end, Conrad learns he cannot replace his dead brother and can only be himself; he is prepared for whatever might come. There are many important themes and subjects addressed in the book. Most importantly is how Conrad deals with his emotions and comes to accept and forgive what has happened to him. And the author shows us that this can only be done by love, support, and trust. Conrad thinks by not expressing his emotions he is less vulnerable but instead he drifts farther apart from his family. The ordeal of attempted suicide and treatment has left him feeling insecure and vulnerable and he instinctively puts up shields. Trying to appear calm and determined on the outside, he is still very confused, angry and is afraid he slip away again only to kill himself. He still feels responsible for his brother's death due to the fact his mom doesn't want to forgive him and the only way to punish himself is to deny, suppress, and control his feelings lest they give him away. It is not until the very end when Conrad?s father, Calvin finally stops skirting around the subject but tells him that he loves him and that they finally develop a sense of trust and security in one another: -
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