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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.
The effect of guilt, the novel seems to suggest, can be both positive and negative, but whatever the ultimate consequences may be, one thing remains fully intact: no other person is the one singular agent of change in another person’s life.
That role forever remains solely the domain of the person who changes and is the decision they make and those decisions alone which bear ultimate responsibility for the way any life turns out.
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.
[ is important for many reasons, one of them being that it was Robert Redford’s directorial debut. It’s become a film that I’ve absorbed so deeply, and it’s been so deeply absorbed into my family culture, especially my brothers and myself, that it’s almost impossible for me to figure out what my initial feelings were, because I have so many  complicated and intense feelings about it that have really pervaded.
Another one is that we see Mary Tyler Moore in a way that we’d never seen her before — for the first time, not warm and friendly and inviting and, instead, a more complicated representation of a mother. I guess this is now, what, 37 years later — something like that?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.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.is that everyone is responsible for just one life: their own.The lives of these ordinary people become a crucible through guilt is forged into a weapon of destruction.And, in a sense, they were very attuned to the inner life, and I was, clearly — as a kid I went to therapy.I was anxious; I was really struggling to feel and make sense of my feelings, so I understood that part of the film.And yet the character of Conrad does that in every line that he speaks and in every facial expression and moment of silence that he represents in the film. They’re trying to move forward and overcome the loss of their son who died in a tragic sailboat accident, but they’re stuck; they can’t communicate with each other about the grief.And that makes them unable to connect with each other. And I don’t know what my reaction was, the first time out.