Please explain what represents reality vs illusion by giving specific examples from the story.

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that you can see the notion of reality vs. illusion in the emotional dynamics that surround the Jarrett family.  After Buck's death, Conrad's central journey is one in which he must begin to understand what real elements define emotional reality and what portions represent illusion.  Buck's death and Conrad's attempted suicide are elements that shatter the illusion of what defines emotional reality.  It is this assembling of emotional meaning in reality that ends up defining the life that used to be led as a sort of illusion.  This is what ends up ensnaring Beth from her family.  Beth wishes to bring back the illusion of what life was like before Buck's death and Conrad's suicide.  She is incapable of forgiving Conrad for his attempts at smashing this illusory mode of emotional being and this causes great distance between she and her husband.  Through therapy, Conrad understands what defines reality from an emotional point of view and in this, Conrad is able to configure his own state of being in a more "real" manner, something that is defined in stark contrast to the illusions that Beth clings to in her own emotional configuration of consciousness.