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Ordinary People

             The movie Ordinary People directed by Robert Redford is a very real life movie set in the suburbs of Illinois in the late 1970's. The movie begins early December and ends what seems to me like the following spring. I think the significance of the seasons is that December, representing a dreary lifeless mood, at least for the northwest region, symbolizes death. During this time, Conrad experiences many confrontations with this matter. He has recently witnessed the death of his brother and is struggling to make his appearance seem "normal". When the weather begins to get warmer, setting a more renewed atmosphere, Conrad begins to understand his emotions and, therefore, deals with the circumstances of his brother's death better.
             Conrad Jarrett, the protagonist, is a seventeen-year-old student attending a public high school. Conrad represents more of a heroic figure in this story because he has begun to overcome the overwhelming obstacles of life. This complex individual realizes that love gives one the strength to endure life. However, Con must struggle to cope with the drastic changes occurring in his life. His struggle against these obstacles is the antagonist in the story.
             Other important characters include Con's mother, Beth; Con's father, Calvin; Con's psychiatrist, Dr.Berger; his friend Karen, and his somewhat girlfriend Jeannine. Beth, a determined perfectionist, is constantly concerned with the way people view her and her family. She wishes for everyone to view her family as "normal". She buried all her love with Buck and, therefore, neglects Conrad because she no longer understands how to love. Beth feels that Con had intended to hurt her as much as himself when he had tried to commit suicide. She can only see things in terms of how they affect her, a very selfish mindset. Beth thinks that everyone feels this way and that perhaps she is simply more honest about it.

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