The Not So Controversial Elements of "Ordinary People"

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The Not So Controversial Elements of Ordinary People Ordinary People by Judith Guest is an intriguing novel that has been banned in one school, and challenged in many others for several controversial topics including language, teen suicide, parental conflicts, sex and graphic descriptions. I don’t feel this novel should have any restrictions or censorship because of its importance and value as a work of literature. This novel indeed does have some potentially offensive material, but its reading level is high school, and I feel that by high school, people reading this book will be mature enough to handle serious topics and controversial material. Ordinary People harbors an important message and theme regarding personal re-growth and forgiveness. Judith Guest’s novel, Ordinary People, follows a high school boy, Conrad, throughout his junior year. We learn that Conrad and his brother Buck were in a boating accident in which Buck dies. Later, Conrad attempts suicide and is hospitalized. The novel’s action begins one month after Conrad returns home from the hospital. Throughout the novel, he and his family struggle with the loss of Buck, Conrad deals with his suicide attempt, and sees a psychiatrist weekly. Conrad’s mother, Beth, damages her relationship with her husband, Calvin. Conrad and Calvin struggle with Beth who is constantly arguing with one or both of them. There are several graphic descriptions of Conrad’s suicide attempt, and a few sex scenes. Foul and harsh language is used in dialogue and in Conrad’s thoughts in the novel as well. All of these topics and areas of the novel have been targeted as reason for censorship in schools around the country. Many parents feel that the use of ‘bad language’ encourages it. Also, the talk and description of sex encourages, even condones such behavior. Some parents have argued Coffman, 2 that the

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