In "Ordinary People," what respect did Conrad and Buck differ?

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litlady's profile pic

litlady | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

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Jordan (Buck) is described as the carefree son who thought they would live forever.  He is adventurous (the hostage incident) and unapologetic (after being accused of stealing).  Conrad, meanwhile, is a worrier, and is very hard on himself.  He feels guilt over incidents he can't possibly control.  He also has an intense drive for perfection.  His lists remind us of this, as do his acts of self punishment.

jeff-hauge's profile pic

jeff-hauge | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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Through therapy the reader finds it painfully obvious that Buck was his mother’s favorite. Conrad lives in the shadow of Buck’s tragic death and finds out quickly that there is nothing in life he can do to assuage the pain and grief his parents endure. Conrad is inherently a more introversive personality. He is thoughtful, quiet and sensitive. Buck seems to be remembered as a jocular, extroversive comedic character. Buck was a superior athlete and a more popular student. Conrad inherits Buck’s legacy as a swimmer and student and finds it impossible to endure. Through therapy he finds his own way.