The book Ordinary People explains the troubles that occur in a typical American family. The family, the Jarrets, tries to maintain as much as a normal life as possible without a dysfunctional status. In the beginning of the story, the family deals with minor problems that had little impact to them. Since they had just moved to a new house in a new neighborhood, they try to establish relationships with other neighbors.
Their son, Conrad, faces depression in which he must recover from through frequent visits to the hospital, and to his psychiatrist. The father of the family, Calvin, is a determined and responsible man, is positive on his outlook in life and looks forward to everything, including having a productive day at work. He tries to take care of Conrad by giving sending him to a psychiatrist. The mother, Beth, a strong working woman, is also like Calvin; she is responsible to the family as well.
Obviously, the parents have no personal problems, but ironically they create conflicts with each other. Although these conflicts are very minor, they eventually build up to separate the family later on throughout their marriage. An example of this was seen while the parents had troubles deciding where and when to go on vacation during their night out at dinner, because both their times conflicted with each other. The both of them always had minor conflicts that sprouted out every once in a while, but they were acceptable to each other.
Conrad on the other hand had problems with his low self-esteem, grades in school, depression, suicide and interacting with other people. The loss of Buck brought Conrad down to his depression and low self-esteem, which eventually collapsed on his academic achievements in school. Also his social attitude towards society was weak, since his moods were always aimed towards quiet environments and loneliness. He took blame for his brother s death in a boat accident and wanted to commit suicide.
Conrad wanted to be in his own world, where he could relax and be in peace from all the annoying people in his life. The only people he really spoke with outside of his family were his teammates in his swim team, Lazenby, Bergen, his psychiatrist, Jeannine, and Karen. This did not necessarily mean that he liked the people he had relationships with. Conrad found his own teammates annoying, his psychiatrist too nosy in his life, and Karen wasn t creditable either because she had similar problems like him, since they met each other at the hospital.
Bergen was Conrad s only real friend, but he wasn t too exciting to be with, and they had lacked seeing each other for some time. As Jarrett s planned on a successful family relationship as soon as Conrad recovered from his problems, some devastating incidents got in their way. The biggest incident that broke up the family was when the entire family comes into a violent argument at the dinner table, and as a result, the mother leaves the family presumably forever.