’ Steve Almond talks about the liberating vulnerability of this Robert Redford classic.
It taught him to embrace the complexity and pain in his own family, and in the process, move towards a more meaningful life. If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll soon understand why Steve connected so deeply with it. We’re gonna provide all the details you need to understand and feel all the feelings. Percy: One of the gifts that movies give us is the ability to see ourselves onscreen — to maybe see characters or even emotions represented that we haven’t ever seen anywhere else, that we can’t even talk about or give voice to. It’s really hard to talk about male vulnerability, to talk about depression, to talk about sadness, to talk about not being OK when you’re a teenager.
Before Conrad that reach that point of acquiring knowledge about himself and his family, he must first survive his own attempt at killing himself.
That decision to try taking his own life delays his arrive at the destination, but can be seen as essential path he must take on the journey.
That journey mandates his meeting Karen and subsequently adding her suicide to the oppressive weight of guilt that is the driving force which ultimately allows him to arrive at the point of self-discovery.
joins a very long list of novels that examines themes related to the relationship between fathers and sons.takes places is an upscale Chicago suburb far away from the gangs and criminal mischief characterizing the inner city of the metropolis.Despite the fact that the worlds through which the Jarretts move is as far away culturally from tragic reality of inner city urban warfare as it is geographically from the white sandy beaches of the Gulf Coast or the thick forests of the Pacific Northwest, however, the family discovers they are no more protected from the consequences of horrific tragedy.Like Conrad himself, the reader is likely to fall into the trap of assigning Calvin Jarrett’s submissive position toward his wife to weakness on his part.Yes, Calvin does fulfill the more submissive role in this marriage, but eventually the reader comes to appreciate—like Conrad—that this role is not the result of weakness on the part of his father, but actually a strength more profound and significantly less demonstrative than that exhibited by his mother.But it was obvious that there was some deeper set of really complicated and painful feelings that she was having to manage every moment of the day, in addition to managing her three angry, volatile sons, her very sweet but nonetheless self-involved husband. So I think I recognize, in Mary Tyler Moore’s character, a sort of exaggerated version of, I think, what every mother struggles with, which is this onerous, completely crushing expectation that mothers perform a certain emotional role; that they do all the emotional labor of managing other people’s feelings, even if, inside, they feel real ambivalence about all of that expectation. Percy: A scene that I never noticed before that really struck me last night, when I was watching it again, is early on in the film, when Conrad comes downstairs, and he says he’s not hungry. Beth immediately takes the plate away, dumps the French toast… It may not come across in radio, but what’s interesting is that — because I know that scene exactly. And she takes it away, and you can see him have this — and this is the amazing thing about these performances. It’s as if she’s called his bluff and said, “OK, you don’t want to eat? And seeing it makes me have to just put a muzzle on it.” Ms. I could see it in flashes, but essentially, it was hidden from view because she was hiding it away, even from herself. Percy: I love that you’re talking about that neediness, because I think that’s something else that really is brave about the movie that it brings up.And it’s often uncomfortable to watch, as the viewer — to see the need that these both people have to connect with each other.And it just made me curious as to what the journey was like with your own mother, to get to where you ended up. Almond: Yeah, well, I have to be honest in saying that the work of my mother’s life, in some sense, was understanding maternal ambivalence; that mothers are expected, by the entire culture, to be warm and loving.And I think this is a common experience, that women, the moment they become mothers, are expected to have a certain set of feelings — the unconditional love, the emotion that’s always ready to flow and nurture and protect and lift up their kids. Everybody, from my wife, all my girlfriends, all my friends — they adored Barbara Almond. But there was somebody inside of my mom who felt very stifled, very anxious, very marginalized.And it reminded me, actually, of something you wrote, which — I believe it was for The Rumpus. And he’s so tired of the fakery; he’s so tired of everybody faking it in his family. Percy: And he is reaching out to her; he’s trying to tell her, “Look, I’m not OK. ” He’s doing that, repeatedly, with the women in his life. ” And she’s faking, and she says, “No.” And he says, “But that was where we had the laughs.” And she says, “But that was a hospital.” In other words, “You’re sick, and we were sick, and I’m not that anymore. I’m over it.” And of course, the devastating and pivotal moment in the film is when he tries to call her up again and discovers that she’s killed herself.You said: “Though I love my family, neediness was totally shameful in the house I grew up in. It’s that Conrad has just been really allowed, by the therapist — “You’ve got to feel, and express what you’re feeling, or it’s gonna explode again, and it’s gonna explode in an act of self-destruction. And it’s just this moment where everybody is stunned and troubled, but the kid has done exactly what he needs, to save himself. Percy: He’s really modeling, for us, the way to be vulnerable. It’s not just his mother, but her and then, also, Jeannine, the woman that he goes on a date with. And that’s really what precipitates the big cathartic moment at the end.