Study Guide

Ordinary People Control Issues

By Judith Guest

Control Issues

Cruise Control

Have you noticed a pattern in all the symbols and images we've talked about so far? Everything boils down to control, and all of the chapters told from Conrad's point of view deal with his struggle for it. He wants to control every aspect of his life, which is a trait he gets from Beth but doesn't realize it.

One final example we want to mention is how this happens even when Conrad is driving. "It feels like the very first time he has been behind the wheel. […] He focuses his eyes carefully on nothing but the road ahead" (26.83). Being in control gives Conrad hope. The problem is that when he isn't in control, he feels completely hopeless and dejected. He has to find a balance. There is no AAA for the human psyche, but getting therapy is a good start for Conrad. Too bad Beth never follows suit.