Ordinary People


Chapter 1 to Chapter 5

Chapter One

Chapter one begins with Conrad lying in is bed, looking at his newly decorated room. He contrasts its new appearance, which is characterized by fresh paint and bare walls. His walls used to be covered with posters and bumper stickers. Conrad’s thoughts, which are cluttered and anxious, contrast with his newly clean walls. He is worried about a school assignment that is due. He is concerned about what to wear to school. However, Conrad is most concerned about his mental health. He is aware that he is having one of the bad days he was told to expect, but worries that his bad days may be worse than what is considered normal. Conrad worries about asking anyone the question, because of fears that he will be returned to the mental hospital from which he has recently been released.

Conrad finds solace in a normal routine, and he begins getting ready for school. However, while getting ready, he seems to have trouble getting lost in the routine. Instead, he concentrates on things like his messy haircut, which he did himself and knows would disturb his very neat parents. He finds himself almost overwhelmed by fear, but by focusing on his routine he is able to calm himself.

While chapter one does not explain why Conrad has been in a mental hospital, it is clear that he has recently been released from being somewhere involuntarily. It is equally clear that his mental state is fragile. He seems to believe that routine and order are essential to his mental health, and seems to believe that doing things in a particular order is the key to keeping himself together. Whatever outward appearance Conrad may give in the rest of the novel, this introduction makes it clear that he is a boy experiencing tremendous turmoil.

Chapter Two

Chapter two focuses on Conrad’s parents, Beth and Calvin, as they are getting together in their bedroom. Calvin notices his wife’s youthful appearance. However, his physical attraction belies an underlying tension in their marriage. Beth tells Calvin that...

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Essays About Ordinary People