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Ordinary People Essay On Calvin

1303 words - 5 pages

Ordinary People mini-Essays; CalvinDuring the early 1900's Modernism emerged. This era brought a psychological suffering from existential angst to modern society. Most people became atheistic because of emotional pain due to their loss of belief in G-d. Although people at this point may not have come to a total understanding of the nature of G-d they were willing to engage in the struggle to discern this answer. Therefore they went in a search for meaning in world that seemed to them devoid of it. People attached themselves onto the belief that there is meaning even if meaning is elusive to modern society. They did not obtain a clear system of motifs and values. Modernists became indulged with new thoughts and ideas that brought confusion. For the first time in history, a majority of people lost faith which for any human being is very crucial. Belief, in whatever it is, gives people a sense of meaning and inner strength. People during the modernist era struggled with; faith, thrusting them into a swirl of emotions, alienation from family, lack of communication, inner anxiety, and existential angst. Calvin, one of the main characters in the novel Ordinary People by Judith Guest, is portrayed as a modernist.Throughout the novel, Calvin struggles to achieve a sense of existential authenticity and meaning following several critical losses that have left him spiritually and emotionally vulnerable. At an early stage in his life Calvin is abandoned by his parents. He never got love from them, which left him with a desperate need for love. As the typical modernist Calvin starts to wonder "who he is" and realizes that "there was a man who knew who he was" (48), Arnold Bacon. Bacon "came to his aid financially whenever it was necessary. It was the closest thing to a father-son relationship--it was a father-son relationship" (49). However, "Bacon did not approve of law students who married while they were in school" (49). Arnold Bacon "had no trouble with decisions. Arnold had written him off, without hesitation, when he had married Beth" (173). It was very painful for Calvin because "Bacon had been Cal's first actual experience with loss" (49). Arnold's "indifference, after the marriage--that had hurt him so much. It has undetermined him, taken away something that he hadn't even realized he possessed" (50): love. What hurt Calvin the most was "the withdrawal of friendship. That was what had crushed him. After five years of looking up to someone, of thinking of him as a father" (174). Even thought it had hurt him terribly, he was a father, a husband, a successful provider and was very happy. He "was supporting his family...whatever they needed, whatever they wanted, they got" (10). This made him feel good for his accomplishment, "not bad from a kid from Evangelical Home" (10). After the "loss of Jordan, his elder, his light-hearted son, the one who never worried, who believed they would all live forever" (34) and Conrad, his youngest son's suicide attempt;...

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