Instructions Each day you will be assigned 2 chapters of reading. It is your responsibility to keep up with the reading in order to participate in class discussions, partake in daily activities & take weekly quizzes. While we will provide a brief summary of each chapter to highlight key points, it is essential that you read the assigned chapters each night. Bring your OP book and notebook to class each day!!! This power point contains valuable information & activities. Along with your daily journal, you will be responsible for writing your answer to each in-class activity in your notebook. Please divide your notebook into two sections: JOURNALS (20 total) & ACTIVITIES (20 total). Each Journal is worth 1 point (20 points) & each Activity is worth 2 points (40 points). This is a TOAL OF 60 Summative Points!!! In the event of an absence, this power point is posted on my school webpage. Your task is to stay up-to-date with journals and activities each day. Your notebook with all journals and activities will be collected at the end of the unit!!! Keep your notebook organized, please
Basic Plot Structure The Jarrets are a “typical” American family. Calvin is a determined, successful father and Beth an organized, efficient wife. They had two sons, Conrad and Buck, but Buck recently passed away. In this memorable, moving novel, Judith Guest takes the reader into their lives to share their misunderstandings, pain, and ultimate healing.
Searching for Identity & Forgiveness in Ordinary People THEMES: Identity, Forgiveness, Death * This is a sensitive topic, as some of you may have had someone close to you pass away. Please be respectful of those around you. When we are young, we live life by the day. In our preteen and teenage years, the process of self-discovery begins. For some people, this could take years. For others, it could happen within a week. No matter how people discover themselves, who they really are, and what they stand behind, everybody goes through it. The characters in Ordinary People struggle through death, guilt, and a lack of understanding, but Calvin, Beth and Conrad eventually discover their true identities.
Getting Used to the Writing Style One of the ways in which Ordinary People is unconventional is its continual use of present tense and stream of consciousness writing. Guest writes the novel as though the reader is there as the action is going on, watching the events occur as they happen. This style has several advantages: It is perhaps better suited to such a highly psychological novel, which frequently dips into a stream-of-consciousness narrative told through the eyes of Conrad and Calvin (these first-person segments are usually denoted by italics).
Present Tense & Stream-of-Consciousness Writing Guest may feel that present tense is better suited to exploring the role of the past within the present. Because so many of the events of the novel are strongly influenced by events of the past, most notably Buck's death, present-tense narrative may allow Guest greater flexibility in her moves between the past and the present of the novel. Also, present-tense prevents the novel from feeling dated. Although the events of the novel occur in the 1970’s, present tense enhances the universal feeling of the novel by making it seem like the events are currently occurring.
Guest is skillful at using her unique writing style to show rather than tell the reader. For instance, rather than stating that Conrad has become a bad student, Guest uses present-tense mode to put the reader inside his mind: "A thousand-word book report due Wednesday in English lit. The book has not been read. A test over the first six chapters in U.S. History. A surprise quiz in trig, long overdue." The reader sees Conrad's academic situation from Conrad's perspective, and we infer from this information that Conrad does not get much work done. This is a more elegant style than if Guest were to tell us flat-out that Conrad does not do much schoolwork.
Helpful Hints: While reading any novel, it is usually a good idea to pay attention to the title. Notice the lengths Guest goes to make everything in this book "ordinary." The Jarretts live in an ordinary suburb. The novel opens on an ordinary day. The friends of the family appear to be ordinary people. And, from an outside perspective, the Jarrett family has been a particularly extraordinary family since the death of Buck and the suicide attempt of Conrad. Guest thus contrasts the mundane side of American life with dark, morbid undertones. There is a long tradition of this technique in American literature. Guest, like many authors before her, develops a type of suburban gothic, in which the most common people are beset with profound tragedies and psychological concerns.
Getting to Know the CHARACTERS Conrad Jarrett: The son of Calvin and Beth, he is the novel's protagonist. About 18 months before the novel begins, he was involved in an accident with his brother, Buck, an accident which left Buck dead. A year later, Conrad tried to commit suicide but failed, forcing him to spend time in hospital. At the beginning of the novel, he has been out of the hospital for a month. He is trying to get his life back on track, but he feels little purpose in life and no motivation. He begins to see Dr. Berger to help him recover from the traumatic events he has experienced. Over the course of the novel, he begins a steady relationship with Jeannine Pratt and rebuilds some of his old friendships.
Getting to Know the CHARACTERS Calvin Jarrett The father of Conrad, Calvin is a natural listener. He tends to blame himself for most negative things that occur in his family. He is 41 years old and works as a tax attorney, a prestigious position for a man who grew up in an orphanage. He believes that there is a serious lack of communication between him and his wife, which strains their relationship. He spends most of his time worrying about his son.
Getting to Know the CHARACTERS Beth Jarrett - The wife of Calvin and mother of Conrad, Beth spends most of her time playing golf and working around the home. Although she is troubled by the horrible events she has experienced with her sons, she wants to move on without dwelling on the past at all, an attitude that brings her into conflict with Calvin, who thinks that the family needs to talk through the past.
Getting to Know the CHARACTERS Jordan "Buck" Jarrett - Buck only appears in flashbacks. He was the oldest child of Calvin and Beth. He died in a boating accident, an event for which Conrad has never forgiven himself. Like Conrad, he was on the swimming team, and he shared many friends in common with Conrad. Dr. Berger - A psychiatrist in Chicago with whom Conrad begins meeting once a week in an effort to gain more "control." Joe Lazenby - A friend of Conrad's and member of the swimming team. He drives Conrad to school each day. He and Conrad have a falling out during the course of the novel, but they manage to mend their relationship. Kevin Stillman - A member of Lazenby's carpool. Stillman can be very cruel to Conrad. He is a member of the swimming team as well. Jeannine Pratt - A new student at Lake Forest, she is in the school choir with Conrad. She and Conrad become close friends and begin to date seriously, forming a deep relationship by the end of the novel. Karen Aldrich - One of Conrad's friends from the hospital. They meet in a diner early in the novel to catch up on old times. Towards the end of the novel, Conrad learns that she has committed suicide, and the news sends him into shock.
Stop, Read & Think Tonight you will read Chapters 1 & 2. It will take a while to get used to the writing style, so don’t get frustrated! Keep in mind the concepts & themes we’ve discussed thus far: An “Ordinary” Family Forgiveness Guilt Identity Stream of Consciousness Present-Tense Writing Setting – north shore Chicago, 1970’s Keep in mind the characters we’ve discussed thus far: Conrad Jarrett (high school boy who just lost his brother & tried to commit suicide) Calvin Jarrett (successful father who just lost his son, Buck) Beth Jarrett (up-tight mom who just lost her son, Buck)
Activity #1: Pre-Reading Activity Individually select a photo, picture, or advertisement from the box-o-magazines. This picture should clearly define “FAMILY”. - Can’t find a picture? Paste some people together to create your idea of FAMILY. - Still can’t find one? Draw your definition of FAMILY.
Activity #2: Discussion ?’s: Why have you selected this clipping as a representation of ‘family’? What does the term ‘family’ mean to you? What does it mean to be ‘ordinary’? What perception do you have of north shore Chicago (Evanston/Lake Forrest)?
Chapter 1 Title: Conrad’s Struggle to get back to “Reality” Lake Forest High School
Chapter 1 Summary & Important Notes The novel begins with the line, "To have a reason to get up in the morning, it is necessary to possess a guiding principle." Calvin is very concerned about Conrad's well-being after his suicide attempt. Every move or motion Conrad makes, Calvin is there to question it or question Conrad's health. Conrad, on the other hand, is focusing on recovering from the incident. He is mainly focused on recovering from the mental damage he has caused himself and trying to begin his new life. "But he cannot relax, because today is a Target Date. Tuesday, September 30. One month, to the day, that he has been home. And what are you doing Jarrett? Asking weird questions like From what? Toward what? Questions without answers. Undermining. A serious affliction" (4).
CHARACTER ANALYSIS CONRAD: After coming out of the hospital, Conrad is forced to relearn how to deal with every day situations. Learning how to establish routines and manage his own life is Conrad's first step on his way to recovery and self-discovery. BETH: Beth deals with Conrad's suicide attempt in a very different way; she is very enclosed and in a constant state of denial. This is just the first of many actions until she reveals her true colors: "Will you talk to him this morning? About the clothes. He's got a closet full of decent things and he goes off every day looking like a bum, Cal" (7). In this quote, Beth reveals that she is timid about talking to Conrad herself, therefore she asks Calvin to do it. All through the book, she also worries more about how Conrad looks to the public (his clothes) for fear of her own reputation than she cares about Conrad's well-being. Their family enters this long haul in a constant state of secrecy and denial. As the book goes on, things start to unravel.
Chapter Two: Self-Discovery While dealing with their first major struggle, death, Calvin (Conrad's father), Beth (Conrad's mother) and Conrad begin their road to self discovery. They all deal with Conrad's suicide attempt in different ways. Calvin is the most concerned person about Conrad. "How's it going? School. Swimming. Everything okay?" "Yeah, fine. Same as yesterday." "What does that mean?" A faint smile. "It means you ask me that every day." "Sorry." He smiles, too. "I like things neat." (11)
Ch. 2 Review We begin to learn more about Conrad’s parents, Calvin & Beth, in this chapter. Beth seems to be cold and “perfect”. Calvin is concerned about being a good father to Conrad. He grew up in an orphanage and has no memory of his father. He strives to be the best father and does not want to put too much or too little pressure on Conrad. "Responsibility. That is fatherhood. You cannot afford to miss any signs, because that is how it happens: somebody holding too much inside, somebody else missing signs” (Guest 9). Questions: Who is Dr. Crawford? What does Cal insist that Conrad do?
Activity #3: Stop & Think Thus far, how does your family compare to Conrad’s? How well do you understand what is going on between Beth and Calvin? Complete a Venn Diagram to show the similarities and differences: My Family: Conrad’s Family:
Activity #4: K W L KNOW What do you already know about the Jarret family? Create a list of at least 5 facts. WANT TO KNOW What do you want to know about the Jarret family? Create at least 5 questions that you hope will be answered by the text. LEARNED What have you learned thus far, specifically about Conrad and Calvin’s relationship…or Conrad and Beth’s? Create at least 5 facts.
Chapter 3 Review Ch. 3 - "In the early morning, the room is his enemy; there is danger in just being awake. Here, looking up, it is a refuge” (Guest 14-15). What does this quote say about Conrad’s state of mind? Answer: Conrad’s father is worried about him, which makes his own fear seem more real and justified. He wishes that he could belong to the house again. We learn that Conrad is a Junior in HS, but all his friends are seniors. Con never took final exams last year due to his hospital stay. We meet some of his friends, Lazenby, Stillman & VanBuren who are obnoxious, but ordinary HS boys. Con’s teachers are worried about his success in school. His swim coach asks about his shock treatment in the hospital. How does Conrad respond to this? After school, Conrad has a brief & awkward encounter with his mother. He then retires to his room. "A dull, roaring sound in his ears as he doubles over, arms crossed, pressed against his waist. His stomach tightens, as if to ward off a blow” (Guest 24). Have you ever felt this way after a bad day or after speaking to someone?
Ch. 4 Review Beth wants to go to London for Christmas, but Cal wants to stay home. Cal is reminded of how beautiful & attractive Beth is (surface- level significance). What happened last year when the family went to Florida? Could this be part of the reason why Cal doesn’t want to go to London? "Riding the train gives him (Cal) too much time to think. Too much thinking can ruin you” (Guest 31). What is the significance of this quote? Cal recalls Conrad's diagnosis: Severe Depressive Episodes: High Risk of Suicide. He wonders if Con is cured, and thinks about Jordan (Buck), his older son, who is now dead. He feels guilty, but we as a reader know it’s not his fault. "It has to be his fault, because fault equals responsibility equals control equals eventual understanding... So where is the fault? Is it in believing that the people you love are immortal? Untouchable?“ (Guest 34).
Activity #5: Anticipation Guide Directions: Before reading chapter five, place a A for agree or a D for disagree in the you column next to each statement. Discuss your choices in small groups, and explain why you checked the statements that you did. Then we will read Ch. 5 tonight. Tomorrow (after reading the chapter), you will mark statements in the Conrad column that Conrad agrees or disagrees with. YOU Conrad ____ ____ Any doctor should be able to help in an emergency. ____ ____ Humor helps most situations. ____ ____ Talking openly helps fix life’s problems. ____ ____ When we are in control of our lives, everything is fine. ____ ____ A psychiatrist can help sort out thoughts and emotions. ____ ____ It is better to hide behind our problems than to talk about them or fix them.
Activity #6: Making Connections 1. Choose either Beth or Calvin and compare (find similarities) or contrast (find differences) this character to your own mother or father. Create a list of either 10 similarities or differences. 2. Describe your relationship with your parents. Are you able to empathize with Conrad thus far? 3. What experiences do you have with family members or friends similar to Conrad’s? 4. What would it be like to be in Conrad’s position? 5. So far, how do Calvin, Conrad, and Beth cope with their problems? Provide examples for each character.
Ch. 5 Review Conrad meets his new doctor, Dr. Berger. He agrees to skip swim practice so he can see Dr. Berger twice a week. Con decides Berger’s not all that bad, since he can make jokes about the difficult things. Conrad admits to Dr. Berger that he wants to be in control. Why? Conrad feels that once he’s in control, people can quit worrying about him (he wants independence & freedom).
Ch. 6 Review By now you should have noticed the narrative style of the novel, which alternately changes perspective between Calvin and Conrad. Calvin is distracted by memories of his fight with Beth the previous night over the possibility of a trip to London. He remembers that Beth criticized him for asking too many of the wrong questions, and he realizes that he is primarily a listener (Beth runs the show!). He’s starting to think that he should have listened to his mentor back in college and not have gotten married so young. Calvin thinks back to the time when he learned of his mother's death. He remembers that the experience was the first time the reality of death was made apparent to him, and he thinks of the loss he felt when his mentor stopped taking an interest in him after the marriage. He realizes that he "hasn't the least idea of what kind of man" he is, and he does not know how to deal with grief. He suddenly realizes that the date is November 5, the birthday of Buck, who would be 19 years old that day. Which character is struggling more – Conrad or Calvin? Why?
Activity #5: Anticipation Guide Directions: Mark statements in the Conrad column that Conrad agrees or disagrees with. YOU Conrad ____ ____ Any doctor should be able to help in an emergency. ____ ____ Humor helps most situations. ____ ____ Talking openly helps fix life’s problems. ____ ____ When we are in control of our lives, everything is fine. ____ ____ A psychiatrist can help sort out thoughts and emotions. ____ ____ It is better to hide behind our problems than to talk about them or fix them.
Activity #7: Agree/Disagree Write an “A” for Agree or a “D” for disagree: 1. Going for outside help for a family problem is a violation of a family’s privacy. 2. Any kind of communication is always good for a family. 3. Avoiding problems is a way of handling them. 4. Anger should always be avoided because anger causes fighting. 5. The past is behind, there is no need to discuss it. 6. The benchmark of a good relationship is whether a person can make another happy. 7. Profanity is a natural part of any disagreement. 8. People tend to forget harsh words spoken in anger. 9. An argument should be debated until it is resolved; time apart only further alienates the individuals involved. 10. It’s OK to quit a team activity, even if others are depending on you.
Activity #8: Hide & Seek - Analyzing Beth Look for details about Beth which are NOT revealed: What actions leave her feelings hidden? What did you find out about her? What doesn’t make sense to you about her actions or her verbal responses? Look for what is hidden!
Activity #8 (Continued) Hide & Seek – Conrad & Calvin Gather details which reveal intimate thoughts, fears, self- doubts and attitudes which Calvin shows to the world as a mask to his true feelings (See Conrad’s as an example): CONRAD: - Wants to be in control - Uses humor with grandmother about his haircut - Feels he is an “anxious failure” - Avoids his mother and feels she does not care about him. - Uncomfortable around his friends - Only safe place at school is in choir - Does not want people’s concern - Feels encounters with mother are physically painful - Fights panic attacks - Tells Berger he wants “control” CALVIN:
Ch. 7 Review Conrad meets his old friend, Karen, who was in the hospital at the same time as him. They make light conversation, each remembering how close they were in the hospital. Conrad tells Karen about school and swimming, and he mentions that he is seeing a psychiatrist. Karen tells him not to get down, and Conrad protests that he is not “down”. After Karen leaves, Conrad regrets not inviting her to a swim meet, and thinks of himself as a "screwed-up bastard." He is obviously upset by the way things went, and as he leaves, he thinks to himself, "Okay Karen we'll see you around who needs you anyway who the BEEP needs anybody?“ What does Conrad’s reaction revel about the way he feels about Karen and himself? Chapter 7 shows us two sides of Conrad's personality conflicting with one another. On the one hand, he does make an effort to reach out to others. It was Conrad, after all, who invited Karen out to the diner. He also remains his usual joking self. But when Karen announces she must leave, Conrad becomes particularly insecure, thinking that Karen is not interested in him as a person. He thinks that she would not want to go to one of his swim meets. He leaves with the resolution that he doesn't need anybody. These glimpses into Conrad's mind are becoming deeper and more frequent: he is not just the nice boy struggling to get up for school in the first chapter. We are beginning to see his darker and violent side, which is closely tied in to the highly vulnerable facets of his personality. After the evening does not go as he had hoped, for instance, he lashes out inside his own mind against all people, and Karen in particular. Conrad is clearly troubled and depressed, but those two aspects are both contained within him; they do not emerge.
Ch. 8 Review Calvin realizes that he is drinking more and more frequently because the alcohol helps him deal with his problems. Conrad and Calvin continue to struggle with maintaining a normal conversation. Calvin is secretly hesitant to leave for a party because he cannot help feeling worried about leaving Conrad alone. At the party, some of the guests ask about Conrad, but Beth answers their questions in a flat fashion so as to reveal nothing about her son. After dinner, however, the guests question Calvin more about Conrad, making him uncomfortable. Calvin tells them that Conrad has been seeing a psychiatrist. Suddenly Beth interjects and tells Calvin that it is late, and they must leave. Calvin senses immediately that Beth is angry that he told the guests about Conrad. Beth says that his outburst was "in the worst possible taste" and a "violation of privacy”. Why is Beth so upset? Does she have a right to be mad? When they return home, Cal checks on Conrad, who is asleep in his room. Calvin notices the scar on Conrad's wrist from the suicide attempt, and he thinks that Conrad has too high of expectations for himself. He is worried that Conrad may feel like a failure if final exams are difficult this year. In this chapter we see that there is a playful side to Calvin's and Beth's relationship. At times, in fact, it may even seem that the two have no problems. In the car on the way to the party, for example, they appear to be a happily married couple. In fact, Beth seems to forget many of the problems related to her son when she is away from the house going somewhere else. However, we see also that she is a very private person. She immediately leaves the party when Calvin tells the others that Conrad is seeing a psychiatrist. Beth is obviously deeply concerned with appearances and the impression her family makes on other people. Calvin even notices at the party that Beth appears always to be cool and collected. She seems to have a dual personality--one for social occasions and one for private ones.
Ch. 9 Review We see Conrad go through an “ordinary” day at school – takes a Trigonometry quiz, helps another student feel better about her bad quiz grade, gets upset with his ‘friends’ for making fun of the girl he was talking to, etc. At night, Conrad thinks about how he can control his anger when his ‘friends’ taunt him at school. He is starting to WANT to learn how to control his emotions. Conrad falls asleep, but has a terrible dream where he is in a shrinking tunnel with a light at its end. What might this nightmare be a representation of?
Ch. 10 Review Conrad meets with Dr. Berger, who assures him that his nightmare doesn’t mean anything. Berger has Con lie on the floor to clear his mind, and Conrad confesses that he does not want to swim anymore because he is not good at it and he no longer likes the other people on the team. Conrad also confesses that he is scared to quit because of the negative image it will produce. He dislikes Coach Salan because of his insensitive comments about the shock therapy. The therapy session, however, ends before Conrad can reach resolution. Why do you think Conrad really wants to quit the swim team? Later, Conrad overhears Stillman criticizing Conrad for being a "flake" and tells Lazenby to stop always including Conrad. Conrad decides he has heard enough and goes to Coach Salan to announce his decision to quit the team. Salan is clearly disappointed, and he says that once Conrad quits, he cannot come back. Conrad doesn’t tell the guys he quit the team, and he refuses their offers to hang out. Conrad goes up to his room and falls deep into thought. He believes that everything in his life is excessive. He dreads the night because he is unable to sleep. He suffers serious insomnia, and sometimes thinks that he tried to kill himself just so that he could finally get some sleep.
CHAPTER 10: Read the following excerpt (Chapter 10, page 82) & discuss the significance of this passage: More laughter and he does not wait to hear the rest, but turns abruptly, heading back up the stairs. Nothing touches him on the way, not even the air in the hallway. Salan is sitting where he left him, his head still bent over his clipboard. He listens, his mouth a taut line, as Conrad explains. That it is something he has been thinking about for a long time, and he is sure, now, he knows he is doing the right thing. At last, he says, “Jarett, you gotta be kidding me. I don’t get it. I excuse you from practice twice a week so you can see some shrink. I work with you every damn night at your convenience, now what the hell more am I supposed to be doing for you?” … “A bright kid like you,” Salan continues, “with every thing going for him. I don’t get it. Why do you want to keep messing up your life?” He says carefully, “I don’t think it’ll mess up my life if I stop swimming.” Stay calm stay calm this is not a spastic leap this is a well-thought-out sane and sensible decision. A real solution to a real problem. Salan says flatly, “Okay. This is it. You’re a big kid now, and actions have consequences. I’m not taking you back again. You remember that.” F-ing swell I’ll remember all right. Aloud he says, “No, sir. I won’t ask you to, sir.”
Ch. 11 Review Calvin begins to look closely at the character of his wife. He reflects on the streak of perfectionism in her, with which he no longer identifies. He has decided that it is chance, and not order, which rules life. Calvin and Beth have agreed to buy Conrad a new car for Christmas as a means of cheering him up and to give him independence. Calvin knows that he would be willing to do anything to make his son happier. He then ponders the problem of illusions versus reality. He recalls a conversation he had once with Ray's wife after she learned that Ray had cheated on her with a secretary. Calvin was told that people prefer illusion to reality. Calvin remembers how strongly Ray regretted his actions but also how Ray and his wife managed to heal their marriage. They are not a family of illusions, he thinks. Is this a correct assumption? Conrad arrives home and announces that he got an A on his trig quiz. Calvin is especially pleased, not so much that Conrad did well academically, but about the fact that Conrad is proud of his accomplishment. Conrad is starting to care about his success. Calvin reflects that he and his family are "ordinary people"; that is the only thing that is "permanent."
Ch. 12 Review Ch. 12 – After quitting the swim team, Conrad fills his time by shopping for Christmas gifts. He has not yet told his parents he quit the team; he does, however, tell Lazenby that he quit. He decides that Lazenby’s not all that bad since he wrote him a letter while he was in the hospital. He then tells Lazenby to leave him alone, and walks away trying to convince himself that the guys were never his friends, only Buck's. In a session with Berger, Con says that he wouldn't tell his mother about quitting the swim team since they don't connect at all. Con tells Berger that he doesn't feel anything new--that he doesn't feel anything at all--and Berger challenges this. He says that Con is mad, but has been refusing to get angry, or let it out. "You go through it, you sort it out, you throw some of it away. Then you stack up the rest, nice and neat. Next time it won't be such a big deal”(Guest 100). Con says he doesn't have the energy to let it all out, but Berger tells him it takes a lot of energy to hold it in. He shouldn't be afraid to feel, even if it feels bad. What are some things Conrad can do to let out his anger? Is it better to feel nothing, or to go through the pain of letting yourself feel? Con runs into Jeannine Pratt after school one day; she compliments him on his singing (although he takes it as criticism because she should not be able to hear his voice above the others), and then thinks about what praise from her means, since she is one of the best singers. He asks her if she wants to have a Coke with him, and as they are walking, he worries about where he'll take her and what they'll talk about. They are both nervous at first, but when she voices that nervousness and tells him it's always hard the first time you talk to somebody, he realizes that means there will be a second time, and they both loosen up and talk about lots of things. quite easily. She has to be home at 4:30 to let her brother in the house, and she asks Con if he has siblings; he says no. As he walks away, he stops to look at a model airplane in the window of a travel agency, which reminds him of a time that he skied with Buck. He waits for the memory to be painful but it is actually pleasant and warm for the first time. He walks home in peace. How is this scene an example of a healthy Conrad?
Activity #9: Misconceptions For each of the 12 misconceptions, write which character is most likely having the thought (Conrad, Calvin, or Beth). Provide a brief justification as to why you chose that character. 1. I can think my way out of feeling bad. 2. I must be crazy for thinking/feeling the way I do. 3. If I just keep busy, I’ll eventually feel better. 4. If I tell (mom/dad/ counselor/friend) about how I feel, he/she won’t care or understand. 5. I have to do everything by myself, including dealing with my fears and problems. I can’t ask anyone for help. 6. It’s not ok to cry. 7. If I can just get through today, tomorrow is bound to be better. 8. Because I’m smart, I should be able to figure things out by myself. 9. Life is so depressing. 10. All I need is to be left alone for a while. 11. I don’t have time to eat right, relax, or play. 12. Other people think they know what’s best for me.
Activity #10: Story Impression In order to fully comprehend and consider complicated works with equally confusing plot lines like Ordinary People, it is important to familiarize yourself with and make educated guesses about ideas presented in the work. Therefore, as a group, you are to creatively contemplate the plot line surrounding Jordan’s mysterious death in Ordinary People by composing a story of at least ten sentences based upon information in the boxes provided on the handout. This story will allow you, as an active reader, to creatively provide an answer to exactly how, why, and when Jordan died before knowing the true Hollywood story behind his death. See attached handout for example story & further details. Good luck!
Review of Themes Conrad's search for control is one of the major threads in the novel. It is, after all, the self-described goal of his therapy. In Chapter Nine, we see clearly his attempts to control his own rage, which is growing stronger because of his dealings with Stillman and his friends. He considers anger to be a "luxury" that he cannot afford. Conrad is clearly a very disciplined man, but his obsession with control is not aimed so much at making him happier as it is aimed at making him more self-sufficient. Conrad wants self-control around his parents, for instance, so that they will stop worrying about him and asking him how he is doing. He wants self-control around his peers so that they will stop taunting him and leave him alone. In both cases, Conrad desires control so that he can avoid more interaction with others. Indeed, he seeks to gain control in order to remain secure in his own seclusion. Conrad exhibits characteristics of each of his parents. Conrad inherited his sense of society from his mother, who as we have seen is very concerned about keeping up certain appearances before her friends. Conrad worries what others will think of him if he quits the swim team. Conrad also shows two of his father's main traits, his self-blame and his ability to listen. Conrad often seems like a character caught between two different personalities. Part of this feature is the result of the fact that throughout the novel he is in a type of transition period. As he is back in school, he is realizing that he does not have the academic potential he once enjoyed. Nevertheless, he has difficulty forgetting his old self-image as a brilliant student.
Ch. 13 & 14 Review Ch. 13 – Conrad and his mother have a violent altercation when Beth discovers that Conrad, having quit the swim team, continued to arrive home at the usual after practice time. Father & son go shopping for a Christmas tree together, then have dinner out. Later in the chapter, after the terrible fight, Con tries to express his feelings that his mother hates him. Beth, rather than confront Conrad in his decision to quit the swim team, approaches the situation as an affront to her reputation. Beth accuses him of purposely trying to make her look foolish in front of her friends. We discover that Beth never visited Con at the hospital, and Beth refers to Con as “he” rather than saying his name. Beth wants nothing to do with anything that will suggest problems. She seems to have a desire to leave the past in the past (a “boxed” relationship). They are uncomfortable in each other’s presence and feel that the other has hurt them. They don’t feel understood or loved by the other, and there are no visible signs of warmth or affection in dialogue between them, nor do they express loving attitudes toward each other in conversations with other people. Ch. 14 – Conrad realizes that he has to forgive himself for something as well, and that is to forgive himself for wanting to live and for surviving the boating accident. Although this conclusion is inferred, this is an important dialogue between Berger and Conrad. Conrad feels that his mother will never forgive him (pg. 119).
Ch. 15 & 16 Review Ch. 15 - Buck has been gone for a year and a half, but his presence is greatly missed, especially at Christmas. Conrad gets a new car for Christmas, but Calvin thinks the day has gone terribly wrong (maybe they shouldn’t have gotten him a car; maybe they should have gone to London, etc.). Calvin is constantly worried, which takes a toll on his relationship with Beth, who seems to keep the past in the past. Ch. 16 – Conrad reveals his feelings to Dr. Berger & discusses the woman in the library. Conrad hesitantly tells Berger that he considers him a friend; he takes a risk in doing this. Conrad realizes that he is comfortable in telling Berger difficult things. Conrad is more honest with Berger than with anyone else. He realizes that he feel “safe with Berger. Feelings of safety, vulnerability, and expressions of friendship work together to build an intimate relationship.
Activity # 11: Describe, Compare, Associate, Analyze, Apply, Argue Answer the following questions from last night’s reading: 1. Describe it: What major decision did Conrad need to make? 2. Compare it: How does the way Conrad speaks to the coach compare to how he speaks to Dr. Berger? How does it compare to how he speaks to his father? 3. Associate it: How does this scene relate to the other conversations Conrad has had with his swimming coach? 4. Analyze it: Why is Conrad getting so upset about quitting the team? Why does Conrad want to quit the team? Why is the coach so rude back to him? 5. Apply it: What will happen to Conrad after this? 6. Argue for or against it: Was this the best way for Conrad to deal with the situation?
Activity #12: Perspective The following quotes are taken from Ch. 11-14. With a partner, identify the speaker, subject and/or topic, as well as the statement’s importance to the plot: 1. “He had become immune to the suffering of others.” 2. “The things which hurt don’t always instruct. Sometimes they merely hurt.” 3. “She’s such a perfectionist. And yet she never lets herself get trapped into things she doesn’t want to do.” 4. “Everything had to be perfect…” 5. “…it is chance and not perfection that rules the world.” 6. “When it comes, there’s always too much of it. I don’t know how to handle it.” 7. “That’s what happens when you bury this junk. It keeps resurfacing, won’t leave you alone.” 8. “Perspective. Kiddo.”
Answers 1. Calvin –realizes that he takes for granted the importance of the events in Cherry’s life which she sees as important; recognizes the difference between inconvenience and tragedy; feels a distance between himself and others; feels that no one can identify with what he’s experienced 2. Calvin – remembers a favorite quote suggesting that events which cause pain prove to be learning experiences; now thinks that some things simply cause pain and are without purpose 3. Carole Lazenby, the mother of Conrad’s friend, Joe – this comment causes Calvin to being looking at Beth in a new light, as one not being able to deal with “messes”, figuratively and literally 4. Calvin – thinking of the first years of marriage with Beth; recalls that she would burst into tears if the boys were messy; realizes they have all learned to live in such a way as to not upset Beth’s order 5. Calvin - realizes that he used to like elements in his life to be orderly and perfect; since the drowning, Cal now sees the world as subject to chance; not having order and the uncertainty of life has provoked a more thoughtful attitude toward living 6. Conrad – talking to Dr. Berger, Con feels that because he was once overwhelmed by his pain, confusion and guilt over the death, he should avoid his emotions because they are not controllable; Cal wants to be in control 7. Dr. Berger – wants Conrad to face from where his feelings of failure are coming from; wants to show Con that his feelings of being unlovable and his sense of guilt have a starting place and Con cannot ignore these feelings or they will never go away 8. Dr. Berger – Con realizes that his mother is not able to love Con in a way that he would like; Berger says that he has to have perspective; Con first discovers that it is not only his mother who is unforgiving for what he’s done, but he can’t forgive her for her deficiencies; Dr. Berger suggests that Con must forgive himself for something (not letting go of the boat); he must forgive himself for wanting to live
Ch. 17 – On Conrad’s birthday, he and his father Conrad clean out the garage, which allows for some honesty and openness in their struggle for intimacy; they reminisce about fond memories they had when Buck was alive. Calvin decides to see Dr. Berger to get some help of his own. Berger asks if he's feeling guilty about missing the signals, which is right- on. He thought that he was lucky, until the accident; now, he says, "Hell, all life is accident, every bit of it--who you fall in love with, what grabs you, and what you do with it” (Guest 146-147). He feels like Con and Beth are drifting apart and that he's a bad father. Cal finally tells Berger that he'd like to talk about himself. Ch. 18 - We see Conrad gain confidence in this chapter. He feels good about his English exam, realizing that he knows just about as much as anyone in the room. Conrad also talks more with Jeannine; he even calls her that night to ask her out on a date.
Activity #13: Understanding What You’ve Read 1. What is Conrad’s guiding principle as stated in Ch. 1? - Life is a serious big deal. 2. What impressions and evaluations does Conrad make of Dr. Berger? - Suspicious of Berger & thinks he’s trying to make him feel uncomfortable - Does not like how Berger makes his responses sound like questions. - Wonders if the office being ransacked was a trick to test him
3. What did Karen mean when she said, “It takes so much energy, just to get through a day, even without all that soul-searching we used to do.” - She does not want to have the same openness and intimacy that they shared when they were in the hospital - She is assuming many of her attitudes from what her father has been telling her - She is not comfortable seeing Conrad, and she seems as though she is keeping herself as busy as possible so that she has no time to think - She does not want to be around someone who will force her to look honestly at herself 4. What do you think Conrad thinks Karen meant by the previous quote? - He feels rejected & guilty. His reaction to her disdain of continued therapy is to say that he is considering ending his relationship with Berger - Conrad admits that he looks forward to his visits twice a week with Berger
5. Why does Conrad want to work on control? - So that people won’t worry about him anymore – most of all his father - A couple of Con’s teachers worry about him (English teacher showed his poems to his swim coach) - Senses Lazenby worries about him 6. Why do you think Beth reacts the way she does when Conrad is mentioned at a social gathering? - She wants to put the past behind her - She thinks that by not talking about a problem, it will cease being a problem - She does not want anyone to realize that she is totally out of touch with her son - She wants to maintain all pretences of an ordered, controlled life - She avoided Conrad while he was in the hospital, and she may have guilt over the fact that she does not know what happened to him while he was there. - She does not understand why he attempted suicide in the first place, and she does not understand the changed person he is now - She does not know how to speak to her son now that he has returned home
7. What was one of the most difficult decisions for Conrad? Why? - To quit the swim team - He does not want to appear stupid to the coach, especially since he asked to be given another chance to stay on the team - He needs to worry less how things will look to others and to concentrate on those things that will help him feel better 8. What are Conrad’s real reasons for quitting the swim team? - He is not enjoying the team - There are two other swimmers who are better than he is and put more effort into their practices. He realizes that he doesn’t have the passion for the sport anymore. - He feels that he is not keeping up with his studies - He also experiences constant pain as the memories from being on last year’s team with Buck prove to be too overwhelming.
9. Dr. Crawford once said that Conrad was an overachiever and that overachievers suffer excessive guilt over failure. About what do you think Conrad feels guilty? In what ways does he feel he has failed? - He feels guilty because he saw Buck as a better person, a better athlete, better liked, physically stronger, and the “favored son” - He feels guilty because the odds would have said that Buck should have been the one to survive - Conrad lived and Buck died, and he may feel guilty because he’s glad he’s alive
Activity #14: Out of the Box At the end of Ch. 16, Conrad and Berger discuss Con’s rules and the trapped feelings that these rules cause him. For each character listed below, describe how they are helping or hurting Conrad. In other words, identify positive, healthy signs of intimacy or negative, hostile aspects which may not allow an open relationship to develop. Look for clues to be found in dialogue, attitude, and emotions, as well as honesty in what they say and how they say it. Conrad and Berger (Ch. 12 & 16) Conrad and Calvin (Ch. 13 & 17) Conrad and Beth (Ch. 13)
Ch. 19 – Calvin’s co-worker, Ray, suggests that Calvin stop worrying about Conrad since he will be away at college. Ray seems to have a bitter take on life. "People are born. Then they die. In between, they perform a lot of pathetic and more-or-less meaningless actions” (Guest 162). THEME OF PERFECTION: Ever since the accident and Con's attempted suicide, Cal has become more and more obsessed with trying to figure out how to be a perfect father. He constantly looks for things that he has done wrong, signs he has missed, or things he should have said.
Ch. 20 – 21 Review Ch. 20 - Conrad decides to see Dr. Berger once a week instead of twice. He also goes on his first date with Jeannine; they have a fun time going bowling.
Ch. 21 Review Ch. 21 – Conrad is out for the evening, and Cal thinks of the time when he and Beth went to Spain. Conrad was in the hospital, but he and Beth were happy there, safely away from their problems, everything in order: "Safety and order. Definitely the priorities of his life. He is not a man inclined toward risk. There. A definition at last. I'm a man who believes in safety” (Guest 173).
Ch. 23 Review Ch. 22 – After a swim meet, Conrad loses control and gets in a fight with Stillman for some rude comments he makes. Lazenby tries to separate them and talk to Conrad; Con admits to Lazenby that it’s just too hard to be friends with him. WHY??? Both the fight in the parking lot with Stillman and the conversation in the car with Lazenby are important events. Conrad still wishes to remain in emotional control in all situations. Conrad feels extremely guilty about the fight and ‘punishes’ himself by not eating and not sleeping that night.
Activity #15: Layers of Love Directions: In chapters 20 and 21 of Ordinary People, Guest invites readers to take a closer look at the relationship between Cal and Beth, while also comparing that relationship to that of a new found match between Conrad and Jeannine. Because she strategically placed the chapters with corresponding relationships close to one another, we are going to carefully consider the information she presents about both couples, documenting the qualities that each relationship exhibits, and then playing “love doctor” to evaluate which is more desirable. With a partner, record as many qualities as you can for each couple (at least seven qualities for each), and provide actual quotes from the text for two of your examples. Use the given handout to record your notes.
Activity #16: Overview 1. Why does Conrad fight Stillman? 2. How does Calvin and Beth’s relationship effect Conrad and his life? 3. How do the following characters affect Conrad? A. Jeannine B. Stillman C. Lazenby D. Dr. Berger 4. Make a prediction about what will happen to Beth and Calvin’s relationship. 5. How have you seen Conrad change throughout the novel? Provide 3 examples of either positive or negative changes. 6. What changes are we seeing in Calvin? How do you think this will affect Calvin and Conrad’s relationship?
Ch. 23 & 24 Review Ch. 23 – Conrad tells his dad about the fight with Stillman; surprisingly, Calvin doesn’t scold Conrad and tells him that all boys need to have their first fight. Calvin, as he is leaving the den, wonders what is wrong with his wife that she did not even question Conrad to find out why he was asleep on the couch with the lights still on. How could she miss the cues that Conrad had a bad day? He thinks to himself, “What the hell is wrong with her?”. Calvin is starting to realize that his wife could care less about her son. Ch. 24 – While Conrad and Jeannine are hanging out, she reveals to Conrad her confusion and unhappiness surrounding her parents’ divorce and the romantic relationship in which her mother is presently involved. She admits to Conrad that her mother cheated on her father, an act she will never forgive. At the close of this chapter, Jeannine is crying, and Conrad finds himself in the position of the strong comforter. This is a new role and a new feeling for him. Con is feeling confident, strong, and tender.
Activity #17: Events & Discoveries Complete the following chart for Ch. 19-26 ChapterMain Character Focus Character(s) Involved Event / Conversation Emotional Discovery Ch. 19 Ch. 20 Calvin Conrad Ray Jeannine Ch. 21CalvinHis own thoughts Ch. 22ConradStillman & Lazenby Ch. 23CalvinConrad Ch. 24ConradJeannine Ch. 25CalvinAudrey Ch. 26ConradBerger
Chapter Main Character Focus Character(s) Involved Event / ConversationEmotional Discovery Ch. 19 Ch. 20 Calvin Conrad Ray Jeannine Beth’s conversation with Ray’s wife; Beth tells her that Cal is obsessed with Conrad’s problem First Date Cal wonders how he and Beth have grown so far apart Conrad accepts feelings of happiness and trusts his feelings Ch. 21CalvinHis own thoughts Memories of Arnold deserting him, memories of Beth’s hatred toward Arnold Realizes that it is not in Beth’s nature to forgive Ch. 22ConradStillman & Lazenby Fights with Stillman and his conversation with Lazenby in his car Conrad fights to be in emotional control Ch. 23CalvinConrad Conversation in the den after Con’s fightCal wonders why Beth didn’t notice or respond to Conrad Ch. 24ConradJeannine At her house; Jeannine becomes upset over parent’s divorce & her mother’s new relationship Con enjoys his feelings and new role as comforter, allowing himself to be depended on by someone Ch. 25CalvinAudrey Audrey tells him that emotion is Beth’s “enemy” Cal realizes that Beth reveals very little of her own feelings and avoids anything where she might be vulnerable Ch. 26ConradBerger Karen’s suicide and conversation between Co & Berger at his office Cal realizes that he must forgive both himself for surviving and his mother for not loving him the way that he would like to be loved
Activity # 18: HOPE & DESPAIR Write the words HOPE & DESPAIR in your notebook. Supply examples from the novel to describe Conrad’s feelings for each word: HOPE:DESPAIR: Conrad & BergerConrad & Beth Conrad & JeannineConrad & Karen Conrad & CalvinConrad & Buck
Ch. 25 & 26 Review Ch. 25 – Calvin decides to take Beth on a golfing trip to visit her brother; he hopes that they can work out some of their marriage problems while they are away. Beth’s brother is Ward and her sister-in-law is Audrey; Audrey tells Calvin that “emotion is Beth’s enemy.” What clue does this quote provide us about Beth’s character? Ch. 26 – Conrad is staying with his grandparents while his parents are away. His grandma is still concerned about Conrad’s physical well-being. This is another example of why Con wants everyone to leave him alone. Conrad’s good mood over his new relationship with Jeannine is quickly dashed when he reads the report of Karen’s suicide in the newspaper. Conrad has flashback scenes / nightmares about his time in the hospital with Karen, along with memories of Buck. SEE FLASHBACK SCENE – pg. 217 – to learn more about what happened to Buck!!! Conrad is afraid he will do something stupid. He is in a frantic state of panic and contacts Berger in the early morning so he can talk to someone.
Activity #19: Lit Circles Discuss last night’s reading in Literature Circles: What issues have surfaced in the novel? What is becoming of Conrad’s family? How does Conrad seem stronger now than he did at the beginning of the novel? Has your definition of “family” changed? Why/Why Not? What have you learned as an “active reader?” How have you been able to engage in the literature?
Notecard Questions Pair up with a friend and write down one question on a notecard. Write the answer to the question on the back of the notecard. The question should review any of the following concepts: Characters Plot Theme Setting We will use these questions to help us study for tomorrow’s quiz!
Ch. 27 Review Ch. 27 - CLIMAX: Conrad comes to his greatest mental and emotional enlightenments as he meets with Berger. Conrad tries to stay in control throughout the session, although in this scene we see Conrad lose control and show emotion. He confesses to Berger that he wants to “get off the hook” for Buck’s death. He believes that he is to blame for letting Buck drown. Conrad has a difficult time realizing that the accident was just that – an accident – it was no one’s fault. Berger convinces Conrad that his guilt comes from the fact that Conrad hung on to the boat; he encourages Con to feel his emotion, even though it may be difficult. “If you can’t feel pain, you aren’t gonna feel anything else, either. And the world is full of pain. Also joy. Evil, Goodness. Horror and love.” Conrad returns home and thinks about Berger’s theory about guilt. Conrad finally breaks down in tears - tears of grief over Karen & Buck. “Not fair! Not fair! No, but life is not fair always, or sane, or good, or anything. It just is.”
Ch. 28 Review Ch. 28 - We begin to see Beth’s true character shine as she and Calvin reach the peak of their arguments. Beth is tired of talking about and including Conrad in every conversation, and Calvin wants to know why Beth is so angry with him. Beth admits that she feels that Calvin blames her for Con’s suicide attempt. Calvin recalls the suicide attempt (all the blood in the bathroom), his visits to the hospital (Conrad wanted them to let him die), and Conrad’s apology after the boating accident (“Mama, I’m sorry! Dad, I’m sorry! I’m sorry!”)…but he never apologized for the suicide attempt.
Ch. 29 Review Ch. 29 – Cal and Beth return home from their golfing trip, and Conrad mentions that he’s glad they are home. He does not tell his parents about Karen’s death, but he seems to be in better spirits. Conrad accepts his mother’s limitations and later hugs her good-night. How does Beth respond to this act of kindness?
Ch. 30 & 31 Review Ch. 30 – Jeannine reveals her past to Conrad, telling him that she used to hangout with bad kids and do bad things. This caused her dad to cry, which made Jeannine realize that she was hurting the people she loved; this is why she moved to Lake Forrest, to get a fresh start. Again, we see Conrad happy to be the comforter. Jeannine asks Conrad about the scars on his wrist and if they hurt. He says he doesn’t remember anything. “It was like falling into a hole and it keeps getting bigger and bigger, you can't get out. And then all of a sudden it's inside you, it is you, and you're trapped, and it's all over." Ch. 31 – Beth is leaving Cal. She does not want him to pity her, to hover over her as he does Con. He knows that although she presents such an organized front to the world, she is being torn apart inside. No one can believe their marriage is breaking up. Cal tells Con that they are selling the house; they have expenses now, like college, and Beth's trip; she is going away for a while. He tells him that he's rented a house in Evanston that he'll be living in. Her trip could last a long time, and she has already left, without saying goodbye to Con. Calvin assures Conrad that it was no one’s fault that Beth left – it just happened. Conrad says that he needs Calvin to be tough on him every so often, like he did with Buck. Conrad admires Calvin for figuring everything out without having anyone responsible for him as he grew up. They tell each other that they love each other, and then Con asks if Beth will be back soon. Calvin doesn't know. The book ends by Conrad visiting Lazenby, in hopes to repair their friendship.
End of the Book Review Although Guest touched upon the major relationships within the novel in these final chapters, there are many questions left unanswered. As Conrad says good-bye to Berger, he extends an invitation for Berger to visit him. This awkward farewell leaves the reader wondering if Berger really would visit, and if Conrad would truly benefit or allow himself to pursue a friendship with his former analyst. In Ch. 31, Calvin refuses to think about Conrad’s question – asking whether his mother will return. The reader echoes Conrad’s question as Beth is briefly mentioned as living with her parents and the recipient of Conrad’s sporadic visits. Jeannie, too, mentions going away to college, as Conrad asks if she can’t wait a year.
Theme Review Themes: Grief: Conrad and the rest of his family must deal with grief after the loss of Buck, Conrad’s brother. Each member of the family deals with it differently. Suicide: After the death of his brother Buck, Conrad has a hard time moving on. Before the novel even starts, he has tried to commit suicide. Through the rest of the book, he learns to deal with his sadness and his suicide attempt. Communication: Conrad and his parents all communicate differently and usually have a hard time communicating at all. Throughout the book, each member changes the way they communicate, for the better or not. Setting: Lake Forest, Illinois, in the Jarrett home, grandparents house, school, and Dr. Berger’s office. Although all are basic locations, it would help if students knew where Lake Forest was located. Point of View; Narrative Voice: The narrator tells the story. It tells the story showing Conrad and then Calvin.
Activity #20: Final Chapter Choose one of the following topics and write a brief final chapter (Ch. 32) to Ordinary People, bringing closure to the novel. Include specific details from the novel to support your opinion. Jeannine and Conrad’s relationship Beth and Calvin – divorce or reconciliation? Will Conrad stay in touch with Dr. Berger? Conrad’s friendship with Lazenby – What areas will both young men need to rectify in order to restore trust, or has too much time and damage been done?
FINAL ACTIVITY: Jarrett Holiday Card The societal concept of the American family is one that has been consistently changing throughout the years. From the 1950’s cookie cutter image of perfection to the 1970’s image of Mama and Forrest with their box of chocolates, it seems that nearly every decade brings about a fresh family dynamic. We, as English students, must also reflect on the family dynamic that is represented during our era. While this idea may seem somewhat abstract, we are first going to define the 2012 version of an American family in a more concrete manner. Then, we will create a holiday card for the Jarrett family.
Brainstorm Let the Brainstorming Begin! As a group, brainstorm traits (adjectives) to describe the American family in the year 2012. Make sure to include an authentic representation of all necessary members of a family (mom, dad, brothers, sisters, grandparents, pets, etc.). Include traits for ALL FAMILY MEMBERS! Along with your brainstormed traits, find pictures to represent members of the American family. You may cut images from magazines, use photographs, or simply draw them yourselves. Put both your traits and photos together in a collage to represent the 2012 American family.
Holiday Card Deck the Halls! Now that your group has a picture perfect idea of what the typical American family looks like in the year 2012, it is now time to dive deeper into the Jarrett family. Create a holiday card for the Jarrett’s, including the following details: A photograph of all Jarrett family members A decorated card, adding the little extras needed to make it unique to their family (i.e. a season’s greeting logo, an inside wish for families receiving the card, and the names of the family members included on the card…perhaps with unique signatures to match, etc.)
Letter Leave it in the Letter! The final touch must include a letter written to the recipients, briefly updating them on the life experiences and endeavors each family member encountered throughout the past year. See the attached sample letter for ideas. This letter should be approx. 1 page long, typed & double spaced.