Ordinary People: Movie Analysis: Ordinary People

In the movie Ordinary People, Beth and Calvin Jarrett deal with the accidental death of their son Buck and the survival of their other son Conrad, who subsequently attempts to commit suicide because he blames himself for Buck’s death. Upon returning home from the psychiatric hospital where Conrad has spent the past four months, Conrad struggles to heal from these tragedies, but feels alienated and therefore seeks the help of a therapist. His mother is cold and seemingly unaffected, and his father is too busy placating his wife to be able to offer any consolation to his son. The family’s inability to effectively communicate only propagates their dysfunction. Beth, Calvin, and Conrad Jarrett engage in acts of “silence” and “violence” as a defense …show more content…
Calvin yields to Beth’s restrictions of the family to never speak of Buck and concedes to her insistence that they maintain the pretense that all is perfect in their home to everyone outside their family, and only occasionally and half-heartedly does he takes Conrad’s side when there is conflict between Beth and Conrad. In addition, genuine communication between the husband and wife is nonexistent. Because of Calvin’s dysfunction, he often engages in acts of “silence” in response to the fear he feels with there is crucial conversation between his family and him. In one scene, Beth makes French toast for breakfast for Conrad before school, but when Conrad doesn’t eat it the moment his mother gives it to him, she snatches it up and throws in down the garbage disposal. Calvin makes a feeble attempt to stop her but then gives up quickly. In another scene, Calvin checks in on Conrad after returning from the theater. He mildly suggests that Conrad call the doctor to make an appointment, but when Conrad says no, Calvin lets it go. In a scene that takes place during Christmas, Calvin wants to take a photo of Beth and Conrad, but Beth says no and that she wants to take a photo of the three men. Calvin, who is not reading the signals Beth is giving him, continues trying to …show more content…
He is only a teenager and therefore lacks the ability to communicate as well as an adult could, yet he is the only one in the family to have a major breakthrough while working with his therapist. Conrad suffers from “survivor’s guilt” because he lived through the boating accident and his brother did not. He blames himself for the death of his brother, and he feels that his parents, especially his mother, do as well. Throughout the movie, Conrad displays both “silence” and “violence” when he encounters crucial conversations that arouse fear in him. Neither of his parents creates safety for him, so he feels afraid and utterly alone. One illustration of Conrad demonstrating “silence” and “violence” was the scene in which the Jarretts are decorating for Christmas and a crucial conversation escalates between the three of them about Conrad quitting the swim team. Beth learned of him quitting through the mother of one of Conrad’s friends, which angers Beth since she is consumed with appearances. Conrad masks his true feelings by sarcastically suggesting that she just go to Europe to get away from him after Beth says that she won’t stand for him lying. He then attacks her by saying that she doesn’t care that he quit, only that someone else knew about it before her. Conrad goes on to attack his father for never standing up to her and attacks his mother for not coming to see him in the hospital. He continues down this path

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