What's the climax of Ordinary People?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that the climax to Guest's work is that Conrad reaches a level of emotional understanding about himself and his place in the world.  Conrad no longer seeks to control and dominate his emotions, but rather understands their complexity.  He recognizes that he is not to blame for the death and the hurt around him.  Rather, he must try to find his own place within these natural events in the world.  Conrad recognizes that he can only be who he is and cannot be anything else.  Life cannot return to what it was before Buck's death or before his suicide attempt. At the same time, he understands that he must accept his mother for who she is and she might not be able to give him what she needs, but that does not mean that she does not have feelings for him.  Conrad understands that his parents' impending divorce is not the end of an entity, but rather could represent a start of a new chapter from an emotional point of view.  This approach is taken with both his friend Lazenby and his father.  This emotional climax of acceptance and self- actualization is what creates the climax to the novel.

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