The book Ordinary People explores the challenges faced by an average American family, the Jarrets, as they strive to maintain a semblance of normalcy despite their dysfunctional dynamics. At the outset of the narrative, the family grapples with inconsequential issues that have minimal repercussions on their lives.
After recently relocating to a new home and neighborhood, the family strives to form connections with their new neighbors. Meanwhile, their son Conrad battles depression, seeking recovery through regular visits to the hospital and sessions with his psychiatrist. Calvin, the father of the family, shows deep determination and responsibility. He maintains a positive perspective on life, eagerly anticipating each day of work. Calvin actively supports Conrad by arranging for his visits to the psychiatrist.
The mother, Beth, is a strong working woman and shares similarities with Calvin in terms of her responsibilities towards the family. Surprisingly, the parents don’t face personal issues, but paradoxically, they end up causing conflicts between each other. Although these conflicts are insignificant and trivial, they gradually accumulate and eventually lead to the family’s separation in the future. One instance highlighting this was observed when the parents struggled to agree on a vacation destination and timing during their dinner outing, as their schedules clashed.
Both individuals frequently experienced minor conflicts, but these were tolerable. Conrad, however, faced issues such as low self-esteem, academic struggles, depression, thoughts of suicide, and difficulties interacting with others. The loss of Buck worsened Conrad’s depression and decreased his self-esteem, leading to a decline in his academic performance. Furthermore, his social demeanor toward society was affected as he preferred quiet environments and solitude.
Conrad assumed responsibility for his brother’s demise in a boating incident and contemplated suicide. He longed for tranquility and harmony within his own realm, away from the annoyances caused by others. Apart from his relatives, he only engaged with Lazenby and Bergen, fellow members of his swim team, as well as Jeannine, his psychiatrist, and Karen. Nevertheless, this does not necessarily imply that he harbored positive sentiments towards these individuals.
Conrad was frustrated not just with his teammates but also with his intrusive psychiatrist, and he didn’t believe Karen to be reliable either because she had similar issues as him. Their meeting took place at the hospital. Although Bergen was Conrad’s sole genuine friend, their encounters were infrequent and unsatisfying. In contrast, Jarrett envisioned a harmonious family bond once Conrad resolved his problems. Regrettably, their journey faced obstacles due to tragic events. The primary incident that shattered their family cohesion happened during a heated dispute at the dining table, leading the mother to supposedly depart from the family permanently.