Calvin goes jogging with a friend, but when they part, Calvin continues to run, thinking back to the family argument while decorating the Christmas tree. Calvin later meets with Dr. Berger and admits he feels responsible for Conrad’s suicide attempt. He also feels as though his family is drifting away from him. He confesses that he thinks Beth cannot be close to Conrad because the two are too much alike—neither of them cried at Buck’s funeral.
Calvin returns home. Beth finds him sitting outside in the car and asks what is wrong. Calvin wants to discuss Buck’s funeral. Beth had made a fuss about the shirt he had chosen, and he had always wondered why the shirt mattered. Beth hugs him but says nothing. This scene is not included in the novel, but provides visual character development and shows the disconnect in the relationship between Calvin and Beth.
Later, Beth meets Calvin for lunch. He suggests they see Berger together as a family. Beth refuses, insisting problems need to be solved in private. She wants Calvin to go away with her and tells him she has already talked to her parents about staying with Conrad.
Conrad and Jeannine go on a date. They go bowling, then out to eat. Jeannine asks Conrad about his suicide attempt. He tells her that she is the first person who has asked him. She asks why he did it, and he says he ‘‘fell into a hole that got bigger and bigger.’’ Conrad’s friends from the swim team come into the restaurant acting raucous, making Jeannine laugh. Conrad becomes upset by her reaction. She apologizes, but he shuts down.
The novel delves further into Conrad’s sexuality than the film does. While Conrad visits the library, a pretty young woman admires him openly. Conrad is surprised and tells Berger about the encounter at their next therapy session. He also opens up to Berger about his sexual feelings for girls and about his masturbation habit. Berger says his behavior is normal, and suggests he ask a girl out on a date. Later in the novel, Conrad makes love with Jeannine.
The novel provides more opportunities to illustrate Conrad’s growing relationship with his father. For instance, on his eighteenth birthday, Conrad clears out the garage with Calvin and the two bond.
Beth and Calvin Go Away; Conrad has an Epiphany
Calvin and Beth take a trip to Houston alone. In the meantime, Conrad goes to a swim meet and watches from the bleachers as his friends lose the meet. After the meet, Stillman asks Conrad if he has had sex with Jeannine. This leads to a fistfight. Everyone but Lazenby walks away, calling Conrad crazy. Lazenby asks Conrad if he wants to talk and offers his help, but Conrad says it hurts too much to be around him.