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Great Santini

Great Santini

Pat Conroy
PDF book size:
1592 kb
ePub book size:
1616 kb
Fb2 book size:
1456 kb
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4.7 of 5
HarperCollins Distribution Services; First Edition edition (June 13, 1977)
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Meet Bull Meecham...

Step into the powerhouse life of Bull Meecham. He's all Marine—fighter pilot, king of the clouds, and absolute ruler of his family. Lillian is his wife—beautiful, southern-bred, with a core of velvet steel. Without her cool head, her kids would be in real trouble. Ben is the oldest, a born athlete whose best never satisfies the big man. Ben's got to stand up, even fight back, against a father who doesn't give in—not to his men, not to his wife, and certainly not to his son. Bull Meecham is undoubtedly Pat Conroy's most explosive character—a man you should hate, but a man you will love.

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7 Reviews
  • I really enjoy Pat Conroy. The particular subject of The Great Santini didn't exactly appeal to me but I read it thinking that Conroy would make it work for me, knowing that I like his prose, his detail and fluid language. I'm still not sure if he did that or not. I certainly have strong feelings about this story and it's characters so I definitely was affected but it was not a positive experience.
    I loathe Bull Meecham. I read this entire book hating him more with every turn of the page. For a while, I waited for redemption in one form or another and then, as he continued to disgust me and his family continued to endure and accept, I resorted to hoping he would just disappear, leave, get reassigned or even die so that his family could breathe and grow without the weight of his presence. My waiting was in vain. The opportunity for healing was minimal at best. There was no silver lining, no happy ending, no rose colored glasses.
    This brings me to my next level of dissatisfaction. This story, despite its best efforts, felt anticlimactic. The few times that something big happened, that I was drawn into a pivotal moment in the story by a building, detailed pull of the plot, it was dropped. The problem would come to a certain conclusion, nowhere near the depth of the development and it would just end, moving into some other chapter of life.
    My overall feeling of this book was grim determination. I hate to quit a book. I wanted to give it time to make the big change. I delved into this dark world and felt the anger and disappointment of this family every time I picked up the book but I couldn't quit. Perhaps that is how Lillian felt as she walked the path that she had chosen with this arrogant, condescending and ruthless tyrant of a man. As I said, it certainly left an impression. Conroy did not let me down in that respect.

  • Meeting Bull Meecham for the first time, the reader is intrigued (not immediately perplexed) by the vision that animates his character. By the middle of the book, the Lieutenant Colonel has become synonymous with the Marine Corps, and it is painfully obvious what this is doing to his family. By the end of the book, Conroy has revealed the Great Santini's hypocrisy, and in doing so displays a broad and deep moral lesson that the reader is welcome to ignore at the risk of following in the antagonist's footsteps. Love cannot be institutionalized or commanded; it is free and powerful, cuts deeper than the harshest rebuke, and is more effective than the greatest institution.

    No single institution can provide the perfect remedy for the chaos and unpredictability of the world in which we live. Despite Bull's obsession with the Marine Corps and expressed defiance of death, Conroy gives us glimpses into his heart of hearts (largely through his daughter, Mary Anne). Mary Anne's contrast of her parents in a conversation with older brother Ben is alone worth the time of reading this book.

    The South and its culture is on full display, and Conroy does a detailed, excellent job using the Meecham family to showcase how the inherent tensions (and beauty) affected both the community and the family. In a crucial conversation with Mary Anne, Lillian confesses that beauty is only skin deep and is rebuked immediately by her daughter, who rejects her mother's attempt at consolation. The Marine Corps is a paradigm for the 1960's South, which in turn is a paradigm for Lillian Meecham. Each paradigm wrestles with the same limitations and falls into similar errors, and Conroy does a great job linking them together. Individuals suffer even when institutions are functioning as they should. There is no panacea for raising your children to avoid pitfalls or loving your wife, or caring for the weakest in a community. Love covers a multitude of sins, and it demands self-sacrifice, especially in those places where the institution inevitably fails to deliver what it inherently promises.

    While Bull never allows himself to feel or express that love (he views it as a weakness of his wife's genes to be rooted out), Conroy leaves the reader with hope that his children will not follow in his footsteps (nor in their mother's shallow ones).

  • I decided to read The Great Santini because it’s one of those books one should read. It took me about a month to finish, which is unusually long for me. I kept thinking that I should just move on, not finish it, but I persevered and was crying like a Baby at the end. Yes, I am glad I actually finished it, but it was a difficult books to read. Way too much abuse and yet I grew up in approximately the same era. It brought back all the bad things about my childhood and my Father’s parenting. Amazing how much I disliked the Great Santini and he was the one making me cry in the end. Most of the time it was great writing, which is why I gave it 3 Stars, but occasionally there were just too many words. No, I will not recommend it as there seems to be way too much violence in our world today and we don’t need a reminder that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Read at your own risk

  • Pat Conroy was an American treasure. I'm rereading all of his books, some for the third or fourth time. There is always something new to discover in the rereading, a nuance or an alliterative description to enjoy once again. His insights into the abusive family are heartbreakingly spot on. Pat Conroy was and is my favorite American author. The Great Santini is an insightful book about an abusive father who is larger than life, while it starts out as a condemnation I believe that it ends as a love song to his father. For further insight into Mr. Conroy's relationship with his father as an adult I recommend The Death of Santini.