Type of motivation used in the novel Ordinary People, by Judith Guest

Essay by SilverSweety2High School, 11th grade March 2003

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In my opinion, cognitive motivation best represents the type of human behavior that is evident throughout the novel, Ordinary People, by Judith Guest. Simply, this type of motivation, as defined by Webster, is "a need or desire that causes a person to act." Behavior reflects many influences besides cognition. For example, external forces have the ability to dictate a person's behavior. Plato believed that people "do what they perceive to be right based on their ideas of what is right." In other words, our thoughts determine our actions. In the novel, Conrad Jarret utilizes this type of motivation in several instances. While I do believe that Conrad made his decisions on what he felt was most appropriate to do in certain instances, I also believe that the external forces around him had an even greater impact.

One instance of motivation, which I believe proves Conrad's desire to be able to control the events that cross his path of life, was his intention to commit suicide.

Plainly, Conrad had a desire to alleviate himself of the obligation that was emotionally tearing him apart inside. Buck was the golden child who did well in school, was a star on the swim team, and overall, was a person that everyone admired, but with the bar set so high, Conrad felt it was his obligation to take over for Buck. If it weren't for the external forces surrounding Conrad, he may never have had the desire to kill himself. Conrad's mother, Beth Jarret, had the greatest influence on Conrad's desire to put an end to his life. Her undeniable perfectionism and need for absolute flawlessness put a vast amount of pressure on Conrad and her family to meet her expectations. Because of Beth's beliefs and moral standards that had to...