Interpersonally Distant Family In Judith Guest's Ordinary People

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The novel, Ordinary people, was published in 1976 by Judith Guest, who introduces us to the lifestyle of an interpersonally distant family. An interpersonally distant family describes a family that is so far apart, they are barely considered to be a family anymore. An example of this is the Jarrett family. Beth, a mother who raised two sons, Buck (Jordan) and Conrad, has cut off all communication with Conrad after the death of Buck. This had a huge effect on Conrad. With the lack of communication with his mother, Conrad feels that she no longer loves him. On the other hand, Cal, Conrad’s father, wants more communication with his son and is too over obsessive with his son’s feelings. All these conflicts create an ‘interpersonally distant family’.…show more content…
The reason to Conrad’s suicide attempt is his mom's acute coldness towards him shows her ultimate despise of Conrad because she blames him for not dying instead of her favorite first born son. After his suicide, Conrad is asked to see a psychiatrist by his father. Cal tries to bring the family back together, Beth, Conrad and himself, but fails to do so. Beth never once visited Conrad in the hospital and barely checks up on him to see if he was asleep. She began to shut herself from her husband and most importantly, her son. The mother-son relationship has clearly died off. The lack of communication between Beth and Conrad affected Conrad in many ways. Beth’s cold attitude towards Conrad leads to his anger and how he wants to be left alone from everyone, including his father. Beth shuts out Cal from showing her real emotions on her favorite son’s accidental death, and lack of communication with Conrad brings the Jarrett family into an interpersonally distant family. Cal and Beth’s marriage worsens. Cal suggests that Beth sees a therapist, and that was when she knew she had to leave him. Beth leaves the picture, ending with both Cal and Conrad, with a father-son
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