“It would be comforting to have something to look up to. Instead, the walls are bare. They have been freshly painted pale blue. An anxious color. Anxiety is blue; failure, grey. He knows those shades. ” This short phrase describes the anxiety level Conrad Jarrett has towards his self being. Throughout the novel there are not only many raw emotions from the protagonist himself, but many unprocessed despondencies from other main characters such as: Beth (Conrad’s mother), Calvin (Conrad’s father), and Jeannine (Conrad’s girlfriend).
With the book and the movie Ordinary People, the effectiveness in telling the story of Conrad Jarrett there were many main elements that were not portrayed in the movie. The theme in this novel was in order to remain happy and health you have to put your body and your mind into duality. At the beginning of the novel, Conrad’s anxiety level is rising to the thought of going back to school. Conrad had been out of school for seven months and failed his junior year. These actions are similar to the movie because the message of Conrad being nervous to go to school was portrayed the same as the novel.
However, in the first chapter of the novel Conrad is staring down at the razor blade in the bathroom reliving the day he tried to commit suicide. In the next chapter, Calvin is shaving his face with a razor blade. The symbol of the razor blade shows the unbalanced feeling between the character in the novel. Without this symbol in the movie it was hard to comprehend the full extent of Conrad and his family’s grief. While getting through the movie I noticed Calvin’s feelings towards Conrad were similar to the novel. I also recognized Calvin’s painful regret and sorrow towards his two sons.
Not only was Calvin grieving towards the lost of his son Buck, but he blames himself for not following the signs leading to Conrad’s actions. Calvin use to view himself as a lucky man, but after his older son died in a boating accident he felt lost and wished the order and perfection would be restored in his family once again. I believe this similar connection between the novel and movie were important in understand the characters. For instance, the feelings and actions of Calvin and Conrad helped better understand the full thoughts and feelings of each individual character.
Calvin feeling regretful for his two sons shows his attitude towards perfectionism. While Conrad just wants to “get the motions right,” and hope the rest falls into place. In the middle of the novel Conrad starts seeing a therapist. was recommended to Conrad by Dr. Crawford; who was Conrad’s doctor in the mental hospital that he attended. In the book and the movie Conrad seeing Dr. Berger was analogous. There conversations about Buck, school, swimming, and family were all included in the movie.
However, in the book Dr. Berger’s office was robbed. In the movie Dr. Berger was with a patient and his office was not robbed. Dr. Berger and Conrad’s relationship is intense throughout the novel and movie. Just like the book, Dr. Berger and Conrad decided they have become close friends. This relationship is essential to Conrad’s recovery because, it shows the maturity level Conrad is starting to acquire. At Christmas time Calvin and Beth argue over going to Europe. Their family ends up spending Christmas in their home town. While picking out the Christmas tree, Conrad and Calvin have a discussion about Conrad and his recovery.
In this situation Calvin ask Conrad if he could see Dr. Berger for his own personal reason. In the movie Calvin and Conrad never went to pick out the tree or have there talk about Dr. Berger. In the book and as well as the movie, the argument Beth and Conrad over Con quitting the swim team is the similar. Conrad argues that his mother never went to see him while he was in the hospital. The explosion of the argument between Beth and her son help the readers understand the distance of Conrad and Beth’s relationship. Towards the end of the novel Conrad gets in a fight with —- at school.
In the book the fight happened before Calvin and Beth went on vacation to Texas. In the movie the fight happened while Calvin and Beth went on vacation. Although the fight happened at different times, the essential parts of this scene where crucial to understanding Conrad’s feelings towards his brother’s passing. At the end of the novel Conrad discovers the death of his dear friend Karen. Karen was one of Conrad’s friends while in the mental hospital. In the novel, he learns about Karen’s death while reading the newspaper.
In the movie however, Conrad tries to call Karen and he finds out about her passing from her dad. Although Conrad finding out about Karen’s death was different the memories triggered by Karen’s passing were the same. Con had many recurring memories of Buck’s death, and through these memories the reader found out Conrad blames himself for his brothers death. While having these episodes Conrad called Dr. Berger to try to relieve some of his guilt. This scene was similar to both the book and movie because Conrad relieves all of the pain and guilt he built up side after Buck’s passing.
The importance of this scene was to show Conrad’s recovery level had shifted tremendously. Conrad went from being an anxious teenager to a well rounded child. In conclusion the similarity and differences in the book were not too dramatic. Although some of the timing on certain events were off, the movie did not fail to get the main point across. The purpose of this novel was to tell the story of Conrad trying to redeem youth of innonces. The moral of this story was to show readers that even though bad things happen it doesn’t mean there is only one way out. Thus, creating an example though Conrad Jarrett himself.