Ordinary People -Essay on Calvin

Essay by sweethbreakerJunior High, 9th grade September 2004

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Ordinary People mini-Essays; Calvin

During the early 1900's Modernism emerged. This era brought a psychological suffering from existential angst to modern society. Most people became atheistic because of emotional pain due to their loss of belief in G-d. Although people at this point may not have come to a total understanding of the nature of G-d they were willing to engage in the struggle to discern this answer. Therefore they went in a search for meaning in world that seemed to them devoid of it. People attached themselves onto the belief that there is meaning even if meaning is elusive to modern society. They did not obtain a clear system of motifs and values. Modernists became indulged with new thoughts and ideas that brought confusion. For the first time in history, a majority of people lost faith which for any human being is very crucial. Belief, in whatever it is, gives people a sense of meaning and inner strength.

People during the modernist era struggled with; faith, thrusting them into a swirl of emotions, alienation from family, lack of communication, inner anxiety, and existential angst. Calvin, one of the main characters in the novel Ordinary People by Judith Guest, is portrayed as a modernist.

Throughout the novel, Calvin struggles to achieve a sense of existential authenticity and meaning following several critical losses that have left him spiritually and emotionally vulnerable. At an early stage in his life Calvin is abandoned by his parents. He never got love from them, which left him with a desperate need for love. As the typical modernist Calvin starts to wonder "who he is" and realizes that "there was a man who knew who he was" (48), Arnold Bacon. Bacon "came to his aid financially whenever it was necessary. It was the closest thing to...