Judith Guest’s “Ordinary People” Reflections

Table of Contents

Conrad vision of life after death

On primary reading of the story, I find Conrad feeling pain and guilt for his brother’s death. He is incapable to overcome this barrier as already experiencing the breath of death; the boy could look at the world in a usual way. Now, Conrad sees his life as the next step to death. The internal emotions of depression and horrible loss do not allow him to get down to reality and to live normally. I realize that by this the author intends to address those who suffered from the pain of loss.

I did not feel that his mother supports his son. On the contrary, she could not forgive Conrad for trespass the life edge. Of course, it is hard to be a mother of a boy who committed suicide but I am sure that she should have done her best to support her only child and to help him to adjust to ordinary life. However, Conrad’s behavior was a bit exaggerated as his obligation was to support his parents as well. To my mind, his weakness and incessant depression prove that he is a weak person that is not able to surpass the adversities.

Despite the above, the book teaches how to deal with grief and to cope with it. I managed to perceive Conrad’s attempts to adjust to the normal life but his abnormal internal psychological state could not stand the happiness of life. The most difficult for the boy is self-forgiveness that is hard to afford. If I were him, I would not know how to behave and the only thing that I would need badly is my parents’ love and respect.

Father’s support and hard experience

Calvin Jarrett Conrad’s father experiences his own hardships as the only parent that wants to help. In the story, he serves as an intermediary between his wife Beth and his son. Cal tries to smooth the situation and find balance in the family thus searching for the imaginary happiness and past life. Truly, I despise Conrad’s mother for weakness as by this she shows her weakness. Her lack of awareness that Conrad is already the only her son enables her to unleash her egoistic feelings that may harm her child.

To my mind, the parents’ side is the rather difficult to understand and therefore I sympathize with him even more than with Conrad. He lost his eldest son and he is about to lose his second son. What can be more horrible? Moreover, his wife, Beth did not support him so that he is abandoned by his family. I could not but agree that the eternal family conflict but not Conrad’s sufferings should be in the center of the novel.


I believe that the story is worth reading, as the guideline is for those who lost their way in life and could find the appropriate solution to how to live further. The story is also useful for parents to look at the situation as the observers and to make the necessary conclusions. In my opinion, the first lines of the story reveal the idea of the whole narration: “To have a reason to get up in the morning, it is necessary to possess a guiding principle” (Guest 1). After reading this novel, I realized that these words are the most crucial ones, as they constitute the boundaries of the right for a person’s development. With the help of this book, I realized that this “guiding principle” should possess everyone who wants to answer the main philosophical questions about the determining incentives in our life.

Works Cited

Guest, Judith, Ordinary People US: Penguin, 1982.

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