Ordinary People Critical Lens

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Ordinary People Critical Lens

Alexander Solzhenitsyn once said, “Good literature substitutes for an experience which we, ourselves, have not yet experienced.” Good literature creates worlds and lifestyles for us that we otherwise would not be exposed to. Good writing gives us the opportunity to live in another world and experience things that otherwise would be out of our reach. These can be realistic things, or fantasy. Good literature gives us the opportunity to explore other peoples worlds, lifestyles...To venture through another persons life. In Ordinary People by Judith Guest, readers “experience” the trials and tribulations that Conrad, the protagonist is going through. Solzhenitsyn’s statement could not be more accurate because in Ordinary People, although most readers aren’t physically experiencing the events that occur in the novel, they can sympathize with Conrad.

Conrad’s brother, Buck was killed in a boating accident over a year before the novel begins. After the death of Buck, Conrad became deeply troubled, blaming himself. He tried to commit suicide by slashing his wrists; his attempt failed when Calvin found him, before he died, in the bathtub. After the attempt, Conrad was hospitalized. He went through therapy and progressively heals throughout the novel. Unlike Conrad, my brother is alive and well, so i can not empathize with what Conrad is struggling with. I can although, sympathize with him, because Guest presents the story in such a way that the events seem as if they are happening before your eyes, immersing the reader in what is happening.

Good literature, I think, can instruct us morally through situations we have not directly experienced; it can teach us things that we would have learned by living through the same experiences; it can make us feel emotions that we would have felt, living through a situation. But it can not substitute for direct experience. Literature must present experiences from the perspective of the...
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