12 March 2015
English 102 Ordinary People
In the novel
Ordinary People by Judith Guest, Conrad Jarrett changed drastically from the beginning to the end of the story. Many variables factored into his emotional growth and positive self image. Conrad had lost his brother Jordan “Buck”, in a boating accident, and he was completely devastated. He couldn’t help but feel like he could have had done something to save his brother’s life. Feeling helpless, Conrad tried to take his own life. Although he was unsuccessful, he spent some time in a hospital to recover, and returned home still depressed.
At home, Conrad wanted to act like everything was normal again. He wanted to feel in
“control” of himself and didn’t want people feeling bad for him or sheltering him. His father,
Calvin Jarrett, always felt the need to worry for Conrad, which was the complete opposite feelings of his mother, Beth Jarrett. Conrad’s mother thought very differently from the father in the way she handled their tragic past. She would rather move on and forget the past, opposed to
Calvin who thought it was best to talk through hard times with family, which Conrad agreed with. Seeing the different ways his parents acted towards their past or towards him, Conrad grows resentment towards his mother and closer to his father.
A factor that I believe plays a huge role in the development and emotional growth of
Conrad, is the therapist he begins to see because of his father, Dr. Berger. On the first visit,
Conrad feels that he does not need psychiatric help, or believes it works. As time progresses he learns to open up to Dr. Berger. In the end of the book they actually become good friends. Dr.
Berger helps Conrad gain the “control” he wants in his life. He helps him cope with his feelings and gives him advice to express himself, like asking girls out, dealing with his parents, school and friends. Most importantly he tells Conrad that the death of brother is not his fault, he gives
Conrad a place where he can break down and let his true feelings out, something essential to a person who has been through what Conrad has. This helps him grow emotionally and gain a positive selfimage.
Other things I believe contributed to the positive development of Conrad would be his interaction with his female friend, Jeannine Pratt. She began as someone Conrad looked up to in choir, (which he really enjoyed) to having a deep relationship by the end of the novel.