Ordinary People

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Conrad Jarrett Character Analysis

Conrad is the protagonist of the novel. He is the youngest son of Calvin and Beth Jarrett; his older brother, Buck, dies in a sailing accident before the novel's plot begins. Ordinary People traces Conrad's recovery from a severe bout of depression and attempted suicide brought on by his brother's death, for which he feels responsible. With the help of his father, his psychiatrist Dr. Berger, and his friends Lazenby, Karen, and Jeannine, Conrad undergoes the painful but liberating process of escaping guilt and learning to love himself and others.

Conrad Jarrett Quotes in Ordinary People

The Ordinary People quotes below are all either spoken by Conrad Jarrett or refer to Conrad Jarrett. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Mental Disorder Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Books edition of Ordinary People published in 1982.
Chapter 3 Quotes

Choir is the one time of day when he lets down his guard; there is peace in the strict concentration that Faughnan demands of all of them, in the sweet dissonance of voices in chorus. He has sung in here since he was a freshman. …Every minute of every hour that is spent there, they work, and there is only one way to prove yourself. You sing, and sing, and sing. All else is unimportant.

Related Characters: Conrad Jarrett
Related Symbols: Music
Page Number: 20
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, we learn a lot about what makes Conrad tick. Conrad is still getting over the trauma of his brother's death and his own attempted suicide--he's intensely depressed, and doesn't always have someone to talk to about his feelings. Singing, however, keeps Conrad sane. He enjoys choir because he's asked to do one thing and one thing only--sing. Singing is at once familiar and foreign; thus, Conrad doesn't have to go through the motions of pretending to be "normal." Furthermore, singing is a kind of combination of exercise for both the body and the mind--Conrad hasn't been able to take any pleasure in his usual physical pursuits, but even the "exercise" of singing helps his mental state.

The passage also suggests that Conrad might have some "guiding principles" after all. Even Conrad, who's in the grips of depression, has things to live for: art, music, his friends, his family, etc. Singing is a relief for him because it gives him an outlet for exercise, and it allows him to vent his feelings without drawing attention to himself.

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Chapter 5 Quotes

The worst, the first session has been gotten through. And the guy is not bad; at least he is loose. The exchange about the razor blades reminded him of something good about the hospital; nobody hid anything there. People kidded you about all kinds of stuff and it was all right; it even helped to stay the flood of shame and guilt. …So, how do you stay open, when nobody mentions anything, when everybody is careful not to mention it?

Related Characters: Conrad Jarrett, Dr. Berger
Page Number: 44
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Conrad has just finished his first meeting with his new psychiatrist, Dr. Berger. Berger is an interesting figure in the novel because his manner clashes with the closed off, reserved attitude of Conrad's family--Berger doesn't have such a severe personality. Instead, Berger thinks that it's important to be open with other people--he's "loose." Conrad clearly appreciates Dr. Berger's attitude, and finds it a refreshing alternative to his family and community. This emphasizes how honesty and directly addressing a problem--actually talking about razorblades and suicide instead of just alluding to them in euphemisms--is crucial for working through mental disorder.

Chapter 7 Quotes

"Things were so different in the hospital. People were, you know, turned on all the time. And you just can't live like that. You can't live with all that emotion floating around, looking for a place to land. It's too exhausting. It takes so much energy, just to get through a day…"

Related Characters: Conrad Jarrett
Page Number: 55
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Conrad reunites with an old friend, Karen, who was also in the hospital because of her depression. Karen and Conrad meet, and Karen tells Conrad that she remembers her time in the hospital as exhausting, not liberating. In the hospital, she was surrounded by people who were "turned on"--full of energy and raw emotion--at all times. There was so much focus and intense observation at the hospital, too--Karen felt that she was always being observed by a doctor or a nurse.

This quote offers a sympathetic and surprisingly accurate portrait of depression as well--the sense that it isn't so much about always feeling bad, but rather feeling exhausted and overwhelmed by everything, no matter how small. Thus being around so many other people with mental disorders (as in the hospital) could provide companionship and compassion, but also more emotional weight for the depressed person to bear.

Chapter 9 Quotes

In bed he waits for sleep. He cannot get under until he has reviewed the day, counted up his losses. He must learn more control, cannot allow himself the luxury of anger. He has seen it happen before. Guys become easy targets for the Stillmans of the world. Next time laugh when he needles you.

Related Characters: Conrad Jarrett, (Kevin) Stillman
Page Number: 74
Explanation and Analysis:

Conrad has had a rough day. He tried to open up to a fellow student who was crying--and when he did so, his old friend Kevin Stillman teased him for it. Conrad was irritated with Kevin, but knows that he can't let teasing get under his skin.

The passage illustrates Conrad's desire for control (something he shares with both his parents), as well as the lack of communication between Conrad and his friends. Despite the fact that Stillman has known Conrad for years and years, he seems to have no idea how to treat his old friend; he has no respect for Conrad's delicate mental state. Conrad knows, at least on paper, that he's supposed to laugh when Stillman makes fun of him--that's what they've always done together. And yet he can't rewire his brain to "play along"--depression has changed him.

Chapter 10 Quotes

He has done it, maybe for the wrong reasons, but it was the right thing to do. There is no problem improving your timing, or perfecting a stroke, if the desire is there, but you cannot fire it up, cannot manufacture desire, when there is no spark at all to build on. This was not a mistake, what happened today. It is not to be looked at as a failure.

Related Characters: Conrad Jarrett
Page Number: 84
Explanation and Analysis:

In this chapter, Conrad makes the difficult choice to quit his school's swim team, a team he's enjoyed for many years. Conrad feels ashamed of quitting the team (alienating him from his longtime friends), but he tries to tell himself that he made the right decision. Conrad's reasoning is interesting--he tells himself that there's no point in swimming if he isn't enjoying it anymore. This physical activity no longer gives him pleasure because of the mental suffering he's been going through.

Conrad's decision to quit might seem reasonable, though it's important to notice that Conrad is running away from his problems rather than facing them head-on. Conrad's denial of his problems is apparent in the structure of the passage; the way Conrad keeps repeating, "not a mistake," to himself.

Chapter 13 Quotes

Berger laughs. "When's the last time you got really mad?"
He says, carefully, "When it comes, there's always too much of it. I don't know how to handle it."
"Sure, I know," Berger says. "It's a closet full of junk. You open the door and everything falls out."
"No," he says. "There's a guy in the closet. I don't even know him, that's the problem."
"Only way you're ever gonna get to know him," Berger says, "is to let him out now and then. …"
"Sometimes," he says, "when you let yourself feel, all you feel is lousy."
Berger nods. "Maybe you gotta feel lousy sometime, in order to feel better. A little advice, kiddo, about feeling. Don't think too much about it. And don't expect it always to tickle."

Related Characters: Conrad Jarrett (speaker), Dr. Berger (speaker)
Page Number: 100
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Conrad has another therapy session with Dr. Berger. Conrad admits that he doesn't know how to talk about his feelings with his parents. For instance, he hasn't told them about his decision to quit the swim team. Berger gives Conrad some advice: Conrad needs to do a better job of expressing his feelings, even to himself. Keeping his feelings bottled up inside (or "in the closet," as Berger says) is a recipe for more resentment and self-hatred down the line.

Berger is wise; he recognizes that Conrad's steady healing from depression isn't going to be easy (it's not going to "tickle"). Ad yet he emphasizes show important it is for Conrad to be honest with himself, and to communicate with other people--not just Berger himself, but his family and friends as well.

Chapter 14 Quotes

Afterward. The hammer blows of guilt and remorse. He has no weapons with which to fight them off. No words of comfort, none of Berger's advice applies. He has slandered her, to her face and behind her back. He has pushed everyone away who tries to help. If he could apologize. If he only could but they are no longer at home to him and it is not their fault. All his fault. All connections with him result in failure. Loss. Evil.

Related Characters: Conrad Jarrett
Page Number: 116
Explanation and Analysis:

This is the aftermath of Conrad's horrible fight with his mother. Conrad has suggested that Beth doesn't really love him--she didn't visit him while he was in the hospital. Conrad feels guilty for yelling at his mother, and he thinks that he's pushing away his own family members, the people who are most likely to take care of him and listen to his problems.

It's interesting that Conrad automatically sees himself as the "bad guy" in his fight with his mother. While Conrad's outburst was rude and uncalled for, there was a lot of truth in it: at least he was trying to express his feelings instead of bottling them up like his mother. As the novel moves along, we get the sense that Conrad's first instinct (and a common symptom of depression) is to blame himself for other people's problems--by the end of the book, we'll see how important this kind of crushing guilt was in pushing Conrad to attempt suicide in the first place.

Chapter 22 Quotes

The keys dig into his thigh. Next to him, Lazenby sits, elbow against the door, his hand propping his check. What he said is true. The three of them were always together, why does he think of it as only his grief? Because damn it it is. His room no longer shared, his heart torn and slammed against this solid wall of it, this hell of indifference. It is. And there is no way to change it. That is the hell.

Related Characters: Conrad Jarrett, (Joe) Lazenby
Page Number: 182
Explanation and Analysis:

In this chapter, Conrad has a fight with his former friend, Stillman. Afterwards, Lazenby reaches out to him--he really wants to know why Conrad finds it so difficult to get along with his old friends. More to the point, Lazenby wants to know why Conrad insists on bottling up his feelings. Lazenby reveals that he misses Conrad's brother, Buck, almost as badly as Conrad does--and yet Conrad insists on keeping his grief a secret instead of sharing it with people who might be able to understand it, such as Lazenby.

The passage makes an important point: grieving people often suffer because they have nobody to talk to, or because they think that nobody else understands their feelings. Conrad makes a point of cutting himself off from his friends, because he's still trying to find the courage to deal with his brother's death. Lazenby represents a "light at the end of the tunnel"--proof that there are good people out there, who want to help Conrad, and know how.

Chapter 24 Quotes

She pulls in her breath, and her arms are around his waist, her head on his chest. He stands, holding her; tests the feeling of someone leaning on him, looking to him for support. He feels as if he could stand here holding her forever. Her lashes are wet, golden in the harsh overhead light. He lifts her chin with his hand and kisses her. Her face is tear-streaked, her mouth loose under his, turned slightly down. He has never felt so strong, so needed.

Related Characters: Conrad Jarrett, Jeannine Pratt
Related Symbols: Color
Page Number: 200
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Jeannine Pratt opens up to Conrad about her feelings regarding her parents. Jeannine tells Conrad that her mother was seeing a man named Paul, a friend of her father's, before her parents were divorced. Jeannine begins to cry as she says this, and the two kiss. Conrad feels an incredibly rush of strength and security.

Why is Conrad so moved by Jeannine's own show of emotion? For once, Conrad isn't the one who needs emotional support--instead, he's giving it to other people. The beauty of Conrad and Jeannine's relationship is that they've both been through some pain--they feel comfortable opening up to each other about their pain, and look to each other for support and love in their times of need.

Chapter 27 Quotes

"Geez, if I could get through to you, kiddo, that depression is not sobbing and crying and giving vent, it is plain and simple reduction of feeling. Reduction, see? Of all feeling. People who keep stiff upper lips find that it's damn hard to smile."

Related Characters: Dr. Berger (speaker), Conrad Jarrett
Page Number: 225
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Dr. Berger offers one of the novel's key insights about sadness and depression. Most people have the impression that depression consists of being sad all the time, or experiencing strong negative emotion. in actuality, depression is usually a feeling of apathy, exhaustion, or nothingness--depressed people, not just Conrad, often say that they're incapable of feeling anything.

Berger's remarks illustrate a basic misunderstanding of how people get over their depression. Crying and yelling aren't signs of depression; they're demonstrations that the depressed person is feeling better; his body itself is "flushing out" the bad feelings. Berger's advice is especially important to Conrad because he's been raised in a sheltered, isolated environment in which expressing one's emotions isn't always encouraged.

Chapter 28 Quotes

"Hate him? How could I hate him? Mothers don't hate their sons! I don't hate him! But he makes demands on me! He tries to blackmail me!"

Related Characters: Beth Jarrett (speaker), Conrad Jarrett, Beth Jarrett
Page Number: 238
Explanation and Analysis:

In this important scene, Beth and Calvin quarrel about Beth's relationship with Conrad, their son. Beth says that she doesn't "hate" Conrad--assuming, for some reason, that Calvin is accusing her of hating Conrad (despite the fact that Calvin never said so). Beth's explanation for why she doesn't hate Conrad is fascinating--instead of offering specific reasons, she just says that mothers aren't supposed to hate their sons.

Beth's attitude toward Conrad is indicative of her reserved, closeted personality. She doesn't hate Conrad, but not hating someone isn't the same as loving them. Beth is motivated by a sense of her social role as a mother--she thinks of being Conrad's mother as a duty--thus, she's very different from Calvin, who loves Conrad unconditionally. It's important to note that Beth is finally facing her feelings about Conrad and Calvin. While Beth is usually more likely to keep her true feelings bottled up, her conversation with Calvin brings out the truth: she is distancing herself from Conrad, because she doesn't know how to interact with him, and perhaps never did.

Chapter 30 Quotes

She laughs. "Why won't you take anything seriously?"
He lies down flat, the hat over his face. "No sense taking the questions seriously, if there aren't any answers."
"Con. Do you believe people are punished for the things they do?"
"Punished You mean by God?"
"Yes."
"I don't believe in God," he says.
…She turns toward him, and the ends of her hair fall lightly against his chest. "What do you believe in?"
"Oh, tennis courts, wallpaper," he says, "Florsheim shoes, Miami Beach—"
"Liar," she says, her arms sliding around his neck.
"—you," he says, kissing her.
"Liar again, but that's nice."
And he squeezes her tightly, feeling the sense of calm, of peace slowly gathering, spreading itself within him. He is in touch for good, with hope, with himself, no matter what. Berger is right, the body never lies.

Related Characters: Conrad Jarrett (speaker), Jeannine Pratt (speaker), Conrad Jarrett, Jeannine Pratt
Page Number: 251
Explanation and Analysis:

In this important passage, we see Conrad translating his therapy sessions with Dr. Berger into action. He's been dating Jeannine Pratt for some time now, and they've just had sex for the first time. Jeannine wants to know what Conrad believes in--i.e., what his "guiding principles" are. Conrad surprises Jeannine by saying that he believes in her, but not God.

What does Conrad mean? After his suicide attempt, Conrad finds it difficult to subscribe to traditional "guiding principles" like school, family, or religion. Instead, Conrad has to figure out for himself what's worth living for--thus, he makes new friends, goes on dates, goes to therapy, etc. Note that the passage ends with a reiteration of the advice Dr. Berger gave Conrad: the body never lies. Conrad has been raised in a chilly household in which bodily contact of any kind is often repressed. Conrad gets over his repression and depression in part because he finds physical pleasure with Jeannine.

Epilogue Quotes

In a letter that she wrote to his grandmother she said, "The Aegean is bluer than the Atlantic, and rough and bumpy. It looks just the way the boys drew it on those funny school maps." For she had saved them all—the maps and papers and a construction-paper valentine trimmed with Kleenex-lace that he had made for her—and packed them away in a box he had found in the basement, when they had moved out. Do you save stuff like that if it means nothing to you?

Related Characters: Conrad Jarrett, Beth Jarrett
Related Symbols: Color, Water
Page Number: 263
Explanation and Analysis:

As the novel comes to an end, Conrad comes to realize that Beth--in spite of the fact that she has trouble showing her feelings--really does love him deeply. Beth has kept Conrad and Buck's childhood arts and crafts, and clearly thinks of Conrad with nothing but affection. The problem isn't that Beth doesn't love her son--she just doesn't know how to tell him.

The passage is crucial because it reminds us that Conrad's road to recovery hinges upon his decision to forgive Beth. Conrad shows that he's become a much more mature person over the course of the book--he's learned to see the world from other people's point of view, recognizing that we all have different ways of coping with grief and loss. Even if Beth doesn't have the courage or confidence to open up to Conrad, it's suggested, Conrad will make the effort to get closer to his mother and make an effort to understand her feelings.

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Conrad Jarrett Character Timeline in Ordinary People

The timeline below shows where the character Conrad Jarrett appears in Ordinary People. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
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It's been exactly one month since Conrad Jarrett has returned home from the psychiatric hospital in which he's spent the past eight... (full context)
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Conrad hears the voice of his father, Calvin, calling to him from the other end of... (full context)
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Conrad tries to make himself relax, remembering that he is supposed to be on the road... (full context)
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Conrad begins to shut down again. His throat begins to itch. For a moment he is... (full context)
Chapter 2
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Down the hall from Conrad's room, Calvin (Conrad's father, called Cal for short) and Beth (his mother) are also starting... (full context)
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...unhappiness in his son. He isn't sure if his son is truly happy, even though Conrad insists that he's fine. Cal notes to himself that Conrad hasn't spent much time with... (full context)
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All of the Jarretts gather in the kitchen for breakfast. Cal checks in with Conrad to see how things are going. With a healthy dose of sarcasm Conrad tells his... (full context)
Chapter 3
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Conrad stands on his front porch, awaiting his ride to school. Lazenby is running a few... (full context)
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Conrad and the rowdy threesome make their way to school. Complaints about swim practice and the... (full context)
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First-period English class gives Conrad a tough time. He gets distracted during class, and his teacher senses his stress. He... (full context)
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After choir comes swimming practice. Conrad's coach Salan is surprised to catch him yawning, and after practice he awkwardly confronts Conrad... (full context)
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...sophomores on the swim team. (It so happens that the two swimmers have constantly beaten Conrad in practice "every day for two weeks.") Eventually Conrad makes it home. At first he... (full context)
Chapter 4
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...what the family needs to unwind after a few months of intense strain. Cal disagrees. Conrad is still readjusting to life as a student, and he feels that time off would... (full context)
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...in to discuss some business, and also to make some small talk about Beth and Conrad. Conversation about his son puts Cal on edge, so Ray decides to back off and... (full context)
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...Dr. Tyrone Berger's phone number, all the while reviewing his responsibilities as a father and Conrad's duties as an obedient son. He just wants to make sure Conrad made it to... (full context)
Chapter 5
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Conrad visits Dr. Berger's office for the first time. Anxiety begins to overtake him when he... (full context)
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Dr. Berger and Conrad settle into their first session. When Berger asks what he'd like to accomplish in their... (full context)
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After the appointment, Conrad reflects on his time with Berger. In retrospect, he appreciates the doctor's casualness. It's a... (full context)
Chapter 7
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On a Saturday, Conrad reunites with Karen (a fellow patient he befriended during his time in the hospital) in... (full context)
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Conrad quickly changes the subject by recalling a piece of Dr. Crawford's advice: "Go with the... (full context)
Chapter 8
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Conrad returns home from his visit with Karen. He finds Cal watching TV in the living... (full context)
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...more conversation. Cal chats with Mrs. Murray and Mrs. Genthe. The latter asks again how Conrad is doing, noting that her son considers Conrad more distant than he was in the... (full context)
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The Jarretts return home. As he heads toward his room, Cal looks in on Conrad (who has fallen asleep studying). He looks around Conrad's room, paying close attention—he notes especially... (full context)
Chapter 9
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Conrad tries to keep calm as he takes a pop quiz in trigonometry class. Looking around... (full context)
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In bed, Conrad rehashes the day's events in his mind. The mild embarrassment of Suzanne's refusal returns, but... (full context)
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Conrad dreams he is walking alone on a bright moonlit beach. Ahead of him he sees... (full context)
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Conrad discusses the dream with Dr. Berger at his next therapy session. In his typically casual... (full context)
Chapter 10
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...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.... (full context)
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From Salan's office, Conrad overhears the conversation coming from the locker room downstairs. His coach is unhappy with him... (full context)
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Conrad clears out his locker, then heads to Lazenby's car for a ride home. Lazenby asks... (full context)
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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... (full context)
Chapter 11
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...remarks about Beth, comparing her seeming composure to what he remembers of the years when Conrad and Buck were both small boys. The demand of raising two children, combined with her... (full context)
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...Beth about a car they'd been looking at recently; they plan to buy it for Conrad as a Christmas gift. He asks Beth if she'd like to visit the dealership to... (full context)
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...outcome urged Cal to be suspicious about happy relationships. The thought stays with him as Conrad comes home from school. The family make small talk and prepare for dinner. (full context)
Chapter 12
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Conrad has gotten used to filling the time once reserved for swim practice. Still having yet... (full context)
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Later, Conrad confesses to Dr. Berger that he hasn't told his parents about his decision to quit... (full context)
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Conrad encounters Jeannine by chance one day after school. She teasingly compliments him on his singing,... (full context)
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On the way home Jeannine asks Conrad if he has any siblings. When he says no, she tells him that he's lucky... (full context)
Chapter 13
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Christmas is quickly approaching. Cal and Conrad are at a local tree farm, selecting a fir to display in their living room.... (full context)
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Cal and Conrad begin setting up the tree in their living room. Beth returns home from "a meeting,"... (full context)
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Beth continues to scold Conrad for keeping this secret for a month. Conrad explodes with anger, he yells that hadn't... (full context)
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...He wants the two to make up, but Beth refuses, claiming that Cal only takes Conrad's side in their confrontations. With Beth "refus[ing] to be manipulated," Cal heads up to Conrad's... (full context)
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Cal finds Conrad lying face down on his bed. He tries to persuade Conrad to apologize to Beth,... (full context)
Chapter 14
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The day after his fight with Beth, Conrad is heavy with guilt. Not only does he feel bad about himself, but he also... (full context)
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Conrad discusses the argument with his mother in the day's session with Berger. He is reluctant... (full context)
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Berger is taken aback by Conrad's passionate refusal. As the mood settles, Berger tries to help Conrad put the argument into... (full context)
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Conrad doesn't think his suicide was an act of self-loathing, but when pressed he can't explain... (full context)
Chapter 15
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...of a "reality" than the extreme beauty and always-pleasant weather of Christmas in Florida. Soon Conrad makes his way into the living room and greets his grandparents. Surprisingly, he is decked... (full context)
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...grandparents have all opened their gifts, and Howard and Cal can barely wait to give Conrad his biggest present. Urging him to look out onto the driveway, everyone crowds around the... (full context)
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...something special from their Christmas. Soon he tries to engage Beth in small talk about Conrad's apparent disappointment, but she retorts that Cal "worr[ies] too much about him." What's more, she... (full context)
Chapter 16
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For Conrad, the start of a new year brings the realization that he needs to organize his... (full context)
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Conrad visits the library to ask about employment opportunities. While there, he encounters a beautiful woman... (full context)
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Conrad fills Berger in on his encounter with the woman at the library. In spite of... (full context)
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Berger casually advises Conrad to begin a relationship with Jeannine. Conrad is wary of dating, but the doctor assures... (full context)
Chapter 17
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Conrad spends part of his birthday cleaning the garage with Cal. When the work is done,... (full context)
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...notices his son's unusually good mood. Curious, he asks about Berger and what he and Conrad discuss in their sessions. Cal throws out the idea of going to see Berger himself,... (full context)
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...his efforts, he feels powerless – especially when it comes to managing the relationship between Conrad and Beth's relationship. (full context)
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...makes Cal feel self-conscious, but Berger's easy manner encourages him to continue. Jokingly, Cal remembers Conrad's habit of calling the mental hospital "The Zoo"; to his relief, Berger's office is nothing... (full context)
Chapter 18
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It's the first day of exam week for Conrad. In the first moments of his English exam, Conrad notices a handful of details as... (full context)
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After the exam, Conrad and Jeannine spot one another in the hallway. He is unsure how to approach her;... (full context)
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Conrad and Jeannine listen to the radio in silence during the ride. They eventually reach her... (full context)
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Several neighborhood women have gathered at the Jarretts' for their bridge club meeting. Conrad slips into the house trying to avoid the group, but Carole Lazenby greets him warmly... (full context)
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Alone, Conrad considers Mrs. Lazenby's offer. He eventually concludes that too many distractions have come between him... (full context)
Chapter 19
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Ray searches for the root of Cal's disappointment. He tries to console Cal, explaining that Conrad will be off to college in less than a year's time. Cal gets a little... (full context)
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...thinks about the small warning signs that cropped up in the days leading up to Conrad's suicide attempt. Cal concludes that Beth might be right about his lack of focus, but... (full context)
Chapter 20
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Conrad stands on the front port of Jeannine's house eagerly anticipating his first date with her.... (full context)
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After a while Ms. Pratt goes to check on Jeannine, leaving Conrad and Mike alone in the living room. Mike chimes in and declares that he'll start... (full context)
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In the car Jeannine apologizes for leaving Conrad with her mother for too long. She also warns Conrad that she isn't a great... (full context)
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Jeannine tells Conrad about her family on the ride home. Her parents are divorced; her father is a... (full context)
Chapter 22
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Conrad decides to attend a swim meet at school. Unfortunately the team is doing poorly; for... (full context)
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Embarrassed, Lazenby and Truan try to make small talk with Conrad. But Stillman emerges and cuts in, mocking Conrad bitterly about his car and relationship with... (full context)
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Once in his car Conrad realizes that he's lost his keys, but Lazenby soon appears with them in hand. He... (full context)
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To his relief, Conrad comes home to an empty house. He washes the blood off of his jacket, but... (full context)
Chapter 23
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Conrad goes for a drive later that night. His slow driving angers a nearby driver, who... (full context)
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Cal comes home around midnight. He sees Conrad on the couch; he'd presumably fallen asleep while waiting for him. Cal nudges his son... (full context)
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...he hadn't seen her stop by the living room on her way upstairs, nor had Conrad. He is disturbed by the fact that Beth wouldn't stop to check on Conrad when... (full context)
Chapter 24
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Cal and Beth head off to Dallas. Conrad decides to stay with his grandparents Howard and Ellen, Beth's mother and father – Cal... (full context)
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Later, Conrad picks Jeannine up from her job at a nearby bakery. They plan to go see... (full context)
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Mike shows off his fledgling guitar skills to Conrad. Conrad praises his performance enthusiastically, encouraging him to keep at his lessons. Mike asks Conrad... (full context)
Chapter 25
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...and Kerry. Cal and Audrey chat about their kids. Audrey expresses worry for Beth and Conrad. She notices that Beth's terse letters hardly ever mention her son, and complains that Beth... (full context)
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...a time when Beth broke down in tears. Otherwise, she suppresses her emotions. She and Conrad were the only family members who hadn't cried at Buck's funeral. (full context)
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...well. She hesitates a bit but answers affirmatively. Ward asks a couple of questions about Conrad, but Cal is the one who answers him – Beth drops out, staring silently at... (full context)
Chapter 26
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Ellen scolds Conrad as he comes into the kitchen for breakfast. He hadn't come home from his date... (full context)
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Later that evening, Conrad is still basking in the glow of his good mood. As he leafs through the... (full context)
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Conrad endures a feverish series of dreams. In the first, he struggles against a crowd of... (full context)
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The second time he wakes, Conrad jumps out of bed and leaves his grandparents' house. He takes a walk in order... (full context)
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Back at his grandparents' house, Conrad gets a glass of water from the faucet and washes his hands. He soon heads... (full context)
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Conrad is jolted awake. He turns on the living room TV to keep himself from falling... (full context)
Chapter 27
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By the time Conrad reaches Berger's office, the doctor is there waiting for him. Almost immediately Conrad begins sobbing.... (full context)
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Berger presses Conrad to tell him why he needs help. The truth springs up from deep within him;... (full context)
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Berger takes Conrad to breakfast. Conrad is exhausted, but Berger gently asks if Karen's suicide is what spurred... (full context)
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Instead of going to Howard and Ellen's house, Conrad returns to his own house to shower. The hot water helps him relax and to... (full context)
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As the water rushes over him, Conrad recalls playing a game with his brother in the garage many years ago. Buck had... (full context)
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Berger's advice finally makes sense to Conrad. As he cries once more, he finishes showering. He thinks about Karen, still upset that... (full context)
Chapter 28
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...she suggests a golf vacation for the coming summer. Cal agrees – and adds that Conrad might like the idea as well. The last comment annoys Beth, who points out Cal's... (full context)
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...is so angry at him, but she states her belief that Cal blames her for Conrad's suicide attempts. The admission shakes her; she bursts into tears. Cal goes over to his... (full context)
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...room door, not wanting to intrude on the situation, but Beth addresses them. She saw Conrad's attempted suicide as an attempt to manipulate her emotions; it seemed like an elaborate accusation... (full context)
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Ward tries to soothe his sister. He expresses the desire for her, Cal, and Conrad to be happy. The word triggers her; she lashes out at Ward, sarcastically urging him... (full context)
Chapter 29
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...to help Beth would only push her away, so he resolves to leave her be. Conrad teases Cal when he sees him catching up on work, calling him "the indispensable man."... (full context)
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Beth, Cal, and, and Conrad go to dinner. Cal is surprised at Beth's attention to their son; she and Conrad... (full context)
Chapter 30
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At Jeannine's house, Conrad and Jeannine discuss the looming prospect of college. Jeannine laments having to part ways with... (full context)
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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.... (full context)
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Conrad and Jeannine have sex with one another for the first time. Afterward, Jeannine explains that... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
Chapter 31
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...but she refuses to let him worry about her the same way he worries about Conrad. Cal questions how much how much he really knows – or knew – about his... (full context)
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After breakfast, Conrad and Cal go out onto the porch. Cal feels cold, but Conrad is excited about... (full context)
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After a stunned silence, Cal apologizes for yelling at Conrad. Conrad responds to the contrary; he appreciates his father's decision to put his foot down.... (full context)
Epilogue
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Conrad pays a visit to Berger at his house. He thanks him for his help, but... (full context)
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Next, Conrad visits Lazenby's house. Mrs. Lazenby directs Conrad to the backyard, where her son is practicing... (full context)
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As Conrad stands alone in Lazenby's backyard, he remembers a letter Beth had written to Ellen, describing... (full context)