Ordinary People


Chapter 16 to Chapter 20

Chapter Sixteen

After the holidays, Conrad begins to show more interest in things that once interested him. He realizes that he has neglected many things that he once considered significant interests. As a result, he makes himself a to-do list. On this list, he includes finals, exercise, friends, job, guitar, books, and girls. This list of things is interesting in its normalcy; Conrad is aware that he has been neglecting those hallmarks of normal teenage life and is showing an interest in returning to his normal life. He even realizes that his list-making, which had been a lifelong habit until Buck’s death, has returned. However, he is not certain whether the return of his list-making habit is a positive or negative change.

Though the book appears to make it clear that the Jarretts are an attractive family, Conrad is insecure in his appearance. One gets the idea that he was always compared to his handsome older brother—not unfavorably, but in a way suggesting that he might one day grow into his brother’s good looks and other positive attributes. However, when he visits the library, a woman steals glances at him. Conrad is so insecure that he feels as if she is focusing attention on him because he is somehow a freak or an oddity. As a result, he is very surprised when she approaches him outside of the library to compliment his appearance. He shares this experience with Dr. Berger, who teases him about it, suggesting that the woman was probably just trying to make him feel better about himself, but Conrad does not dismiss the experience. He is able to look at his reflection in the mirror and make the objective assessment that he has become more attractive over the past year. He and Dr. Berger discuss dating, and specifically Conrad asking out either Karen, his friend from the mental hospital, or Jeannine, the new girl at Conrad’s high school. Conrad discusses some of his insecurities about women, admitting that he is unsure what to do on a date and is concerned about his behavior being scrutinized. He talks about how being...

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Essays About Ordinary People