Ordinary People

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Ordinary People Chapter 30 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
At Jeannine's house, Conrad and Jeannine discuss the looming prospect of college. Jeannine laments having to part ways with Conrad, but she is soon distracted by his guitar playing. She enthusiastically encourages him to write words for his songs. Conrad wonders how she knew that he'd tried his hand at poetry before, so she lets slip that Lazenby told her. She had approached Conrad's friend in hopes of learning as much about "the mysterious figure" as she could.
The fruits of Conrad's recovery are on display in this scene. He is able to handle the thought of losing Jeannine. Once again, guitar playing represents his ability to integrate mind and body.
Themes
Mental Disorder Theme Icon
"Family" and Love Theme Icon
Body/Mind Duality Theme Icon
Jeannine also admits to having a brief conversation with Suzanne about Conrad. Apparently Suzanne was quite protective of Conrad and warned Jeannine to treat him with care. Jeannine teases Conrad for having such a nice personality – and, again, for writing beautiful songs – but he denies her compliments. She notes that he doesn't accept compliments well, which he tries to laugh off. Jeannine is serious, though. Noticing her "solemn, wide open expression," he feels intensely drawn to her.
Now that he's found a way to make his mind and body cooperate in the face of negative feelings, Jeannine's compliments help him do the same for more positive ones. Both are required to forge a healthy relationship with Jeannine.
Themes
Mental Disorder Theme Icon
"Family" and Love Theme Icon
Body/Mind Duality Theme Icon
Conrad and Jeannine have sex with one another for the first time. Afterward, Jeannine explains that she isn't a virgin. The admission doesn't bother Conrad, but Jeannine feels obligated to explain the circumstances to him. She'd slept with a boy in Akron, Ohio, during her parent's separation. The encounter was part of a streak of rebellious behavior; after her father left home, Jeannine joined a group of teenagers who spent their time getting into trouble. Things escalated until Jeannine was caught and prosecuted for stealing. Her father knew the shopkeeper, however, and after much begging Jeannine was let off the hook.
Jeannine is a combination of the many different ways various characters in the novel have dealt with grief or unwanted situations. Conrad is initially attracted to her because she seems to be completely in control, like Beth, but it turns out that she quells her bad feelings by avoiding them, like Conrad. She, too, suffers the difficulty of feeling out of place in her own family, like Cal.
Themes
Mental Disorder Theme Icon
Fate vs. Responsibility Theme Icon
"Family" and Love Theme Icon
Jeannine is intensely guilty about her time in Akron. She feels that she acted out in order to hurt herself – not her parents. Conrad is able to open up to her about his own self-abuse. Like Jeannine, he felt that the decision to harm himself seemed right at the time, but was a misguided choice. Jeannine is unsatisfied by Conrad's seemingly empty response, but he assures her that the question has no answer. Conrad admits that he doesn't believe in God (she does), but he owns up to believing in Jeannine. Conrad feels in touch not only with himself, but with her as well. As they tenderly embrace, Berger's advice comes to mind: The body doesn't lie.
Jeannine's backstory demonstrates that struggles with guilt and emotional release aren't unique to people who have been diagnosed as "mentally ill." Prescribed ways of thinking about fate—whether they be clinical, religious, or anything else—prove ineffective for Conrad. What matters most to him is the process of meeting each situation as it comes.
Themes
Mental Disorder Theme Icon
Fate vs. Responsibility Theme Icon
"Family" and Love Theme Icon
Body/Mind Duality Theme Icon
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