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The Social And Historical Context Of Judith Guest‘S Ordinary People

2058 words - 9 pages

Part 1) Context:

Describe the social and historical context of the story (see chapter 1 of "Learning in Adulthood"). If you are working with a historical movie you will want to address both the social and historical context of the story and the social and historical context of the time in which the film was made. For example, if you are working with a movie made in the 1980s about the Civil War you will need to talk about the social and cultural influences of the time of the Civil War and any influences that you see from the 1980s.

Ordinary People was Judith Guest‘s first novel published in 1976 and Robert Redford directed the movie version of it in1980.the novel takes place during the late 1970s and focuses on Calvin Jarrett’s family.
Calvin and his son have two sons their oldest Buck is extremely popular at school and their youngest Conrad who looks upon his brother. The family seems financially privileged but becomes dysfunctional when buck dies in a boating accident. Buck and Conrad were boating when Buck died and Conrad cannot stop blaming himself. He is so emotionally distraught that he attempts to kill himself. After being in the hospital for a month he is physically cured but he is still emotionally distraught and cannot stop blaming himself.
The late 1970 saw an increase in psychotherapy for adults, teenagers and adolescents. The controversial idea of psychoanalysis was preiminent during the 1970sordinary people helped psychoanalysis become more accepted. Two other issues that were closely related were suicide and depression. According to the CDC from 1970 and 1980 there were almost close to 50000 youths who committed suicide in the age group of 15 to 24 years. Young adults 20 to 24 had twice the number and rate of suicides as teenagers. Depression is another historical issue that is depicted in Ordinary people. According to the US department of health and Human Services teen/ youth suicides have tripled since 1970
Another historical issue that is brought to prominence in guest’s novel is the stark difference between the privileged lives of suburban teenagers as compared to the inner cities. The privileged teenagers who you would think have everything they could ask for living in the suburbs which is considered safe for raising children compared to the inner cities is a myth. The Jarrett’s appeared to be a perfect family from the outside but are far from it.

Sources:
http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00000871.htm
http://www.maav.org/sab/info.htm

Part 2) Characters:

Describe the main adult characters (1-2 only). How does their portrayal fit or not fit with the expectations you and the other characters have for adults in that context? What are the influences of gender, race, class, etc. stereotypes pn their portrayal? Stereotypes and naming conventions are key tools in sussing out cultural norms and values. For example, in the movie are adult women referred to as girls but adult men referred to as men - except for...

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