Simply Extraordinary Essay

Simply Extraordinary Essay

Length: 980 words (2.8 double-spaced pages)

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In Ordinary People by Judith Guest, Guest takes an extraordinary family and makes them seem ordinary. By using the title, Ordinary People, Guest tricks the reader into questioning outrageous situations with a sense of normalcy. She makes the situations appear to be a typical part of life. But the irony of the title is that because of the obstacles the Jarrett family, has had to face, they are no longer ordinary people. They are extraordinary. Guest goes to great lengths to make everything in her novel appear to be ordinary. The book opens on an ordinary day and the family lives in a typical, ordinary neighborhood but if the audience looks close enough, they will find that the Jarrett family is not ordinary at all.
The Jarrett family has struggled with many problems. In the beginning of the novel, Conrad, the novel’s protagonist, has just recently been released from the hospital after attempting suicide. A year prior to Conrad’s failed attempt, he was involved in a boating accident with his brother, Buck, in which Buck died. Conrad’s parents, Beth and Calvin, are struggling with their marriage. This accident began a chain reaction that would alter the Jarrett family forever. Throughout the narrative Conrad shows a great mount of post-traumatic stress disorder with the main symptoms being depression, anxiety, and the feeling of isolation. The book starts out with Conrad contemplating the color his bedroom walls explaining that, “They have been freshly painted. Pale blue. An anxious color. Anxiety is blue, failure, gray. He knows these shades,” (Guest 1-2). Later on that day, he “feels the slow, rolling pressure of panic building inside of himself” (16) on his way home from practice. He feels suffocated while sitting in the ...

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.... They have had crushing losses and devastating experiences. But through all odds, they have come out alive and healthy. Judith Guest does everything in her power to make this book appear simply ordinary. But this book is not simply ordinary. Even though the book opens and ends on an ordinary day, and the Jarrett’s live in an ordinary neighborhood and even though the family’s friends all seem ordinary, nothing in this book is ordinary, especially the Jarretts. The true irony in the title is that since the death of Buck and and consequences of Conrad’s suicide attempt, the Jarrett family has become extraordinary. When the audience looks at the situation from an outside experience, they see that this family had endured so much pain and conflict, but that the family has survived. The people in this book are not ordinary. The people in this book are simply extraordinary.

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