Striving for Emotional Perfection in Ordinary People

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Striving for Emotional Perfection in Ordinary People Throughout the life cycle, a person undergoes many changes. One matures both physically and emotionally as time passes. Emotional growth is quite often more difficult than physical growth. A person must realize his faults and admit to them before he can develop emotionally, while one does not need any self-analyzation to develop physically. In her book Ordinary People, Judith Guest depicts the struggles man must experience in order to reach his ideal emotional perfection. Conrad, the book's protagonist, and his father Calvin, were both searching for higher levels of emotional health. Conrad had to let out and face all the feelings he had repressed, while Calvin had to correct his confused perspectives on life. Conrad's psychological problems generated from the facts that he repressed his feelings and that he looked to others for approval. He hid all his feeling and emotions and judged himself based on what others saw and thought. When Miss Melon, Conrad's English teacher, asked him, "Do you want an extension?" Conrad's immediate response was "NO"(18). He rejected her offer of assistance because he felt that help took away from his dignity and self pride. Conrad internalized what everyone else said and did and judged himself based on this. Conrad thought about himself: "All his fault. All connections with him result in failure. Loss. Evil… Everywhere he looks, there is competence and good health… He does not want to contaminate, does not wish to find further evidence of his lack of worth"(116). Conrad looked at everyone else and concluded that everyone else was "ordinary" and that he was a problem. He was afraid that since he was not "normal," ... ... middle of paper ... that he caused problems to everyone with whom he had contact. After much struggle, however, Conrad realized that he was not the problem and that he did not need to hold back his feelings. Calvin originally thought that Beth was perfect and was confused as to the extent of his responsibility as a father. With Dr. Berger's help, Calvin came to understand that Beth was not the ideal mother and that the things he blamed himself for were not really his fault. The conclusion can be drawn that one needs external help in order to develop psychologically. Calvin and Conrad voluntarily met with Dr. Berger in search of assistance while Beth refused his aid. This may be the reason that Beth was not able to reach emotional maturity while Calvin and Conrad matured greatly. Works Cited and Consulted Guest, Judith. Ordinary People. New York: Ballantine Books, 1979.

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