The Ironic Title of Judith Guest's Ordinary People

The Ironic Title of Judith Guest's Ordinary People

Length: 656 words (1.9 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓

The Ironic Title of Ordinary People



        The significance of the title "Ordinary People" is that it is

ironic because there are not ordinary people in the book.  It does not

correspond with the novel itself.   As defined in Webster's Dictionary,

ordinary means usual, common, or normal.  To most people, this is what they

think they are.  However, in the book being unordinary is common for most

of the characters.  The author of this book, Judith Guest, probably titled

this book "Ordinary People" to make readers ask themselves, "What is

ordinary?  Am I ordinary?"


        The title describes the book as being ordinary when the characters

are really unusual.  For example, most teenagers do not try to commit

suicide.  However, in this book, Conrad Jarett tries to kill himself.  He

attempts suicide because he is depressed about his older brother's death.

He lost his brother in a boating accident and he blames himself for his

death.  He believes that he could have prevented the accident by coming in

from the sea when the waters began to get rough.  However, there was

nothing that Conrad could have done to prevent the boat from capsizing.

His attempt to commit suicide is one of the things that makes him

unordinary from normal teenagers.


        In the real world, many teenagers attempt suicide.  But, this is

not ordinary.  It is unusual for a teenager to attempt or commit suicide.

Society does not look at this sort of behavior as ordinary.  If a teenager

does attempt suicide, they are usually seeking attention and looking for

pity. As a result of these actions, they are seen as having some sort of

mental incapacity and are treated for it.  Therefore, this is not ordinary

and Conrad was not either.


        Another character in this book who is not ordinary is Beth Jarett,

Conrad's mother.  Conrad feels as if she does not love him.  She hardly

talks to him.  She also treats him as if he does not belong in the family,

like a stranger.  For example, in one part of the book, Conrad bends over

to hug his mother and she just sits there and does not hug him back.  In

another part, his father wants to take a picture of Conrad and his mother

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"The Ironic Title of Judith Guest's Ordinary People." 16 Jul 2018

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Simply Extraordinary Essay

- 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....   [tags: Ordinary People , Judith Guest]

Research Papers
980 words (2.8 pages)

Essay on Healing in Judith Guest's Ordinary People

- The Question of Healing in Ordinary People How do you define healing. In the dictionary it says that to be healed you are cured, resolved, free from worry. But is that what everyone else thinks of healed as. In the novel Ordinary People, written by Judith Guest, Conrad Jarret goes from being a young boy to an adult within a year. He did not know what he was like himself, in the beginning of the story, then there were things that made him grow, and lastly did he heal. At first Conrad did not know who he was or what his purpose was, when he came home form the hospital....   [tags: Judith Guest Ordinary People Essays]

Free Essays
461 words (1.3 pages)

Ordinary Control Freaks in Judith Guest's Ordinary People Essay

- Ordinary Control Freaks in Ordinary People The Most interesting form of Literature is American Literature. Usually dealing with a struggle that must be overcome, American literature deals with real-life situations which one can empathize with. One of the most interesting novels written by an American author is Ordinary People, by Judith Guest. Ordinary People tells the story of an ordinary family struggling to cope with the loss of a family member following a boating accident. Brilliantly written, the novel consists of two narrators- Conrad, the Jarrett family's only son left after the boating accident, and Calvin, Conrad's father....   [tags: Judith Guest Ordinary People Essays]

Research Papers
1200 words (3.4 pages)

Essay about The Extraordinary Family in Judith Guest's novel, Ordinary People

- The Extraordinary Family in Judith Guest's novel, Ordinary People   Judith Guest's novel Ordinary People evinces some main principles of the modernist literary movement, such as the philosophy that modern man is beset by existential angst and alienation. According to Carl Marx, a renowned existentialist, alienation, as a result of the industrial revolution, has made modern man alienated from the product of his own labor, and has made him into a mechanical component in the system. Being a "cog in the wheel" prevents modern man from gaining a sense of internal satisfaction of intellectual and emotional pleasure....   [tags: Judith Guest Ordinary People Essays]

Free Essays
2200 words (6.3 pages)

Foolish Pride in Judith Guest's Ordinary People Essay

- 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....   [tags: Judith Guest Ordinary People Essays]

Free Essays
582 words (1.7 pages)

Search for Identity in Judith Guest's Ordinary People Essay

- Search for Identity in Ordinary People When we are young, we live life by the day. In our preteen and teenage years, the process of self discovery begins. For some people, this could take years. For others, it could happen within a week. No matter how people discover themselves, who they really are, and what they stand behind, everybody goes through it. Especially the characters in the book Ordinary People by Judith Guest. As they struggle through death, guilt, and a lack of understanding; Calvin, Beth and Conrad eventually discover their true identities....   [tags: Judith Guest Ordinary People Essays]

Free Essays
1354 words (3.9 pages)

Ordinary Feelings in Judith Guest's Ordinary People Essay

- 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....   [tags: Judith Guest Ordinary People Essays]

Free Essays
564 words (1.6 pages)

Ordinary People by Judith Guest Essay

- The book I chose for my report is titled “Ordinary People” and was written by author, Judith Guest. Viking Penguin Incorporated first published the book in the United States in the year 1976. Also in the year 1976, the Macmillan Company of Canada Limited published it for the first time in Canada. The book has 259 pages and 31 chapters and is placed under the juvenile fiction genre. “Ordinary People” is a book about a seventeen-year-old boy named Conrad Jarrett coming home from a mental institution for the first time in eight months....   [tags: Literature Review]

Research Papers
716 words (2 pages)

The Impact Of Ordinary People Essay examples

- ... This demonstrated that Karen was unwilling to receive help; since she had no one to lean on she decided to end her life. Conrad did not give up like Karen did because he got the social support he needed to cope with his grief. The decision Conrad made of continuing to see Dr. Berger was a very smart step because a lot of people like Karen give up, but he kept trying. This helped him avoid extreme measures and was a sign that he was starting to find his identity. Equally important, when Conrad went to Dr....   [tags: Judith Guest, novel analysis]

Research Papers
1077 words (3.1 pages)

Themes of Ordinary People by Judith Guest Essay

- There are many themes that occur and can be interpreted differently throughout the novel. The three main themes that stand out most are healing, communication, and relationships. Ordinary People starts off already in a broken world. Buck has died, and Conrad has already attempted suicide, therefore, healing is a main focus throughout the book. Beth and Calvin’s marriage is also very rocky and they together are trying to see if things will work out by healing and saving their relationship. Judith Guest shows the journey through Conrad’s life and his progress to becoming completely healed....   [tags: essays research papers]

Free Essays
427 words (1.2 pages)

Related Searches

together, but she suggests that she take a picture of all the men instead.

This incident makes Conrad feel as if his mother does not like him.  Beth

Jarett does not act like an 'ordinary' mother.


        An ordinary mother does not act like Beth.  An ordinary mother

would show affection for her son even if he tried to commit suicide.  As a

matter of fact, a mother would show even more affection and love if her son

tried to kill himself.  Beth does not show the type of affection that an

ordinary mother would show towards her own children.


        Not showing affection is not the only thing that makes Beth

unordinary.  At the end of the novel, Calvin, Conrad's father, tells Beth

that he is not sure if he loves her the way he used to anymore.  Beth has

no reaction.  Instead of talking with him and trying to find out why he

feels this way, she silently walks away.  She goes up to her bedroom and

packs her bags.  In the morning she leaves for Houston, to her brother's

house while Conrad is still sleeping.  She does not even say good-bye to

him.  An ordinary mother would not abandon her family like Beth does.

Instead, an ordinary mother would try to fix the problems in her family.


        In conclusion, the book "Ordinary People" has nothing to do with '

ordinary people.'  The title does not correspond to the description that

the author has given it, which is ordinary.  The examples given show how

ironic the title of the book is in relation to the book itself.

Return to