Water appears in several different forms throughout Ordinary People. It is arguably the basis of the Jarretts' main conflict, since Buck's death in a sailing accident is the root cause of Conrad's suicide attempt and the ensuing fallout. It also appears in Conrad's environment. As a member of his school's swim team, Conrad spends much of his time in and around water; tellingly, the activity is one which brings him a lot of stress. Precipitation either works against him (as it does in the form of rain or puddles) or yields to him (in the form of melting snow, for example). Most dramatically, water acts as a bridge between Conrad's physical and emotional well-being. Late in the novel the narrator explains that Conrad "does his best thinking" in the shower – and the shower happens to be the place where Conrad works through the trauma of his brother's death. The physical feeling of water joins forces with the memory of sailing to help Conrad process the accident holistically.