Summary Of Judith Guest's Ordinary People

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In Judith Guest’s, Ordinary People, the relationship between Beth and Calvin disintegrates as the story went on. In the beginning of the book, things for the most part seem fine. Even though they occasionally argue, it is evident that they both love each other and that they wouldn’t want to be with anyone else. Then something changes. As Conrad progressively and steadily improves, it seems that relations between Calvin and Beth grow worse. This is due to Calvin’s overprotection of Conrad, Beth’s narcissism, and how their parenting principles differ. This only creates more tension between the two. In Judith Guest’s, Ordinary People, Calvin’s overprotection of Conrad, Beth’s narcissism, and conflicting parenting principles leads to Calvin and…show more content…
Calvin is a more hands-on parent while Beth takes a step back.This leads to Beth and Calvin becoming further and further apart, to the point where they eventually split up. One example of how different they are is when Calvin found Conrad sleeping on the couch on a late night with Beth already home. This causes Calvin to ask “Did you hear your mother come in?” Conrad said no. Then Calvin thinks to himself and says “Wouldn’t she think it’s strange, him sleeping on the couch at whatever time she had come in? Wouldn’t she have wakened him to ask-at least-What the hell is wrong with her?” (Guest 191). This is a point where Calvin realizes how different the two of them really are, even to a point where Calvin thinks that it’s unthinkable to parent like that. This all eventually boils down to the point where Beth is packing up a bag to leave Calvin and Conrad. On her way out she gives an explanation to Calvin on why she is leaving when she says “When you suggested a counselor, that’s when I knew” (Guest 252). In other words, the straw that broke the camel’s back is how Beth deals with problems differently. Like with Conrad, Calvin wanted to bring in a third party to help fix the relationship. To Beth, this seems way to familiar and she saw this as Calvin applying his parenting style to people other than his son. This leads to Beth leaving the relationship right then and there. Therefore, the difference in their parenting styles eventually causes the end of Calvin and Beth’s
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