Life sucks. Humans get thrust into this chaotic thing of existence without any idea of how to act or what to do, and it shows in the way they act. Some people do not know how to accept praise; others cannot live without it; people everywhere have difficulty living with each other. If anyone claims that he or she has found the way to live, that same person is lying. If anyone one person says that he or she has found the best way for him or herself, that person is probably lying. With all the twists, jolts, and flips in life, it is impossible for anyone to successfully navigate the river without breaking bones and spirit. Conroy's works The Water is Wide, The Great Santini, and Beach Music are like an owner's manual for a human life, showing how Conroy thinks some of life's painful situations can be dealt with. The path his characters choose may or may not be the best one, and life will probably not unfold the way Conroy has shown, but his books prepare people for the backside of life. The themes of the three are intentionally universal so that people can relate and be comforted or prepared, as the case may be. The point is that Pat Conroy's books are out in the world, circulating through the arteries of this planet so that people might read them and be aided.
Life does not always work out the way it should. Sometimes good loses, and the better man is the one begging. The Water is Wide is the story of injustice abounding. While the story may have been more appealing if Pat were able to stay on at Yamacraw Island, and I would certainly have enjoyed it more if the superintendent had been beaten, that story would have been a false picture of reality, worthy only of a children's bedtime collection. I...
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...sic. New York: Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 1995.
- - -. The Great Santini. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1976.
- - -. The Water is Wide. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1972.
Brigette Weeks. "Pat Conroy: Into the Heart of a family." The Washington Post 12 Oct. 1986: 1, 14.
Burkholder, Robert E. "The Uses of Myth in Pat Conroy's 'The Great Santini.'" Critique: Studies in Modern Fiction, 21 (1979): 31-7.
Burns, Landon C. Pat Conroy: A Critical Companion. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1996.
The Great Santini. Dir. Lewis John Carlino. Perf. Robert Duvall and Blythe Danner. Warner Studios, 1979.
Wick, Ted. "Another Likely Prospect for Hollywood." Alberta Report 15 Apr. 1996: 40-42.
York, Lamar. "Pat Conroy's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Southerner." The Southern Literary Journal 19 (1987): 34-46.