Alice's parents devote themselves to her recovery each time she returns home, though they are a major part of the reason Alice continues to leave—until the end, she never feels as if she can fully open up to them about anything important, from her drug use to her fears about sex. They have few flaws, being upstanding, cultured citizens, but that is precisely the point: the child of even the best parent can fall into drugs, as lines of communication are not always as open as they seem, and society can injure children in ways parents cannot help. Alice is at war with herself over whether to follow or rebel from their middle-class example and often wonders how devoted they are to their family or to their social standing. Her father, especially, stands at the crossroads of ambition and family; an up-and-coming professor, he fears Alice's hippie lifestyle will tarnish the family's reputation and ruin his chances at the university presidency, yet he drops everything whenever Alice is in trouble. Her mother's nagging, too, reveals anxiety about the family's image and is a force behind Alice's alienation. By the end, however, both learn to treat Alice with more respect and as an adult, and Alice responds accordingly. As Alice reads elsewhere, they discover that parenting means allowing one's child to make enough decisions for herself.