Judith Guest's Ordinary People: Internal & External Conflicts as They Result from the Suppression of Emotions

1535 words 7 pages
"What we say is important…for in most cases the mouth speaks what the heart is full of."—Jim Beggs. Literature, as far back as it can be dated, has been progressing towards this very notion of articulacy. Through the civilizing process, literary texts have mirrored how societies—and individuals within a society—have moved from battling conflict using external, physical forces to fighting, increasingly, with internally conceived methods, such as knowledge, social mannerisms, and communication. From the epic of Beowulf to even the most contemporary piece of literature, conflict is an unavoidable facet of human life. A significant difference to note, however, is that the battles fought in Beowulf's time are a different kind of battle than …show more content…

The reality, however, is that control is not what he possesses, but instead, suppression is the vice that he bears. The suppressed emotions consume his thoughts and produce, at one point in the novel, nightmares of feeling trapped in a place that has no escape. (70-71)

Near the end of the novel, Conrad's meetings with Dr. Berger, his psychiatrist (and close friend), help him to exhibit emotions and feelings. He progresses from feeling trapped and isolated to feeling that he is able to escape and find a way. Upon this realization, Conrad expresses, "[that] box, I feel like I've been in it forever. Everybody looking in, to see how you're doing. Even when they're on your side, they're still looking in. Like, nobody can get in there with you…[but] sometimes I can get out of it, now."(127) Conrad moves from feeling shame, regret, and isolation to feeling that he can, sometimes, get out of feeling as though he is trapped in a box. Ultimately, Conrad achieves an even greater discovery. "The distance between people. In miles. In time. In thought. Staggering, when you think about it. Communication. The bridge between the distances."(172)

It is a long and hard struggle before Conrad makes this breakthrough. Before he achieves any glory, many external conflicts take rise and he must overcome those battles, as well. The most difficult external battle is the conflict