Ordinary People


Chapter 26 to Chapter 30

Chapter Twenty-Six

Conrad had stayed out late with Jeannine the night before, and his grandmother gives him a difficult time for it. The two of them end up turning it into a joke, enjoying one another’s company. Conrad has a day notable only for its normalcy. He washes his car and thinks about studying with his girlfriend. He thinks about their date the night before; they had bumped into some of his old friends, and he handled it without incident. He saw that as a sign that he was getting healthier.

However, that night Conrad suffers a significant shock. He reads the newspaper and discovers that his friend Karen has committed suicide. Because he viewed Karen as an inspiration for the idea that he could recover, having seen her strong recovery, the fact that she would not only attempt suicide again but would be successful in her attempt is a shock to him. He feels the shock physically, manifesting symptoms that sound much like an anxiety attack. He goes to sleep, but his thoughts and then his dreams are troubled. He is obsessed with his time in the hospital and his suicide attempt, thinking about what occurred afterwards. He wakes up from his troubled dreams and begins walking down the street, hoping to escape his thoughts. A police officer stops him and asks him where he is going, concerned that Conrad is at risk from strangers. Conrad finds irony in the statement, thinking that his outsides must look right, even if his insides are a mess.

He returns to his grandparents’ house, where he falls asleep in the den and dreams about the boating accident. It is the first time in the novel that the details of the accident are ever really explained. The two boys were caught in a storm, which pitched them around. They both tried to hang on to the boat, but Buck was lost. Conrad blames himself for not being able to save his brother. Conrad wakes up from the nightmare, and he places a call to Berger. He recognizes that he is in a dark place and in need of help, and he reaches out for that help. Berger tells him to come over...

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Essays About Ordinary People