Ordinary People

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Ordinary People Chapter 10 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Lazenby, Stillman, Truan, Genthe, and Van Buren make plans to see a movie. Lazenby would like to invite Conrad, but Stillman protests loudly. He considers Conrad a "flake" and a burden to the group. Likewise, Genthe complains about the extra time and attention Salan gives Conrad during swim practice. Lazenby tries to defend Conrad as a friend, but the other boys try to dissuade him from spending too much time with Conrad.
This chapter is marked by constant tension between words and feelings. The members of Conrad's swim team (except Lazenby) only recognize the outer effects of his mental illness. Lazenby's compassion strikes them as odd, because Conrad's behavior is nothing but an inconvenience to them.
Themes
Mental Disorder Theme Icon
"Family" and Love Theme Icon
From Salan's office, Conrad overhears the conversation coming from the locker room downstairs. His coach is unhappy with him too, since it's implied that Conrad has just asked to leave the swim team. Salan feels slighted, as he's made an extra effort to work around Conrad's therapy sessions. Conrad works to remain calm during the conversation. He tells Salan that his decision is for the best. Disappointed, Salan warns Conrad that he won't let him back onto the team, and dismisses him.
Likewise, Salan is callous toward Conrad's decision to quit the team. He cannot be blamed entirely, however, since Conrad doesn't explain that swimming has been his biggest source of stress. A lack of communication and understanding leaves Salan feeling unappreciated. The narration highlights the tension between Conrad's words and feelings.
Themes
Mental Disorder Theme Icon
"Family" and Love Theme Icon
Body/Mind Duality Theme Icon
Conrad clears out his locker, then heads to Lazenby's car for a ride home. Lazenby asks if Conrad would like to go to the movies that night, but despite Lazenby's insistence Conrad declines, claiming that he has to study instead. Lazenby finally reaches Conrad's house and promises to pick him up the next day for swim practice. Conrad awkwardly refuses the offer; he explains that his dad will give him a ride instead. He avoids telling the group that he's quit the team.
Conrad continues to put himself at odds with his peers by speaking differently from how he feels. Lazenby attempts to reach out to him but – like Suzanne did to Conrad – Conrad shuts himself off from help.
Themes
"Family" and Love Theme Icon
Cal makes his routine stop by Conrad's room to check in with him. Conrad flatly claims that he's doing fine—for the time being, he doesn't want to tell his dad about his decision to quit the team. He tries to convince himself it was the right choice; he feels that swimming had lost its thrill long ago. Heeding Karen's advice, he decides that what's most important is not to let this or any other recent event weigh too much on him. To relieve stress, he decides to masturbate.
Despite his choice to quit the swim team, and thus escape physical strain, Conrad continues to seek physical solutions to his stress.
Themes
Mental Disorder Theme Icon
"Family" and Love Theme Icon
Body/Mind Duality Theme Icon
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