Ordinary People Essay

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Ordinary People depicts the struggles within a family after the loss of a member. The Jarrett family experiences a horrible loss. The eldest son, Bucky, drowns while on a boating trip with his younger brother, Conrad. The death of a child and sibling affects each person. Each individual’s familial role changes and these changes affect the family subsystem. The role of parent, spouse, and child and the relationships between them will be examined. On the surface, the marital relationship of Beth and Calvin Jarrett appears normal. Beth actively participates in her social circle. She attends parties for friends and functions at the country club. Calvin follows her suit and does what she expects. Calvin and Beth handle the social aspect of their marriage. As a couple they are not sharing in the grieving process. Beth’s inability to deal with the loss of the eldest child causes a strain on the marriage. Calvin tries to deal with his feelings and the changes in his wife. With each confrontation, she pushes him further away. Calvin reaches his breaking point at the end of the movie. Part of his dialogue includes him questioning her love for him. “You are not strong. Do you love me? Do you really love me? You can’t handle a mess” (Schwary, 1980). It is at this point that Calvin sees the person his wife has become. She changed but would not admit to the change. Beth was determined to live her life as if nothing had happened. As parents, Calvin and Beth experience a disconnect. Calvin desperately wants to soothe and help Conrad deal with the loss. Each time Calvin attempts to talk to Beth about Conrad’s needs Beth erupts into a fury of self-pity. The couple struggles with talking about the death of their eldest son and how to help their younger son deal with the loss of his best friend. When a family suffers the loss of a child, the parents are in

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