In The Prince of Tides, what does Pat Conroy suggest about the nature of one's psychological condition in the face of social expectations?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that Conroy makes a clear argument that one's own psychological reality has to take precedence over the presence of social expectations that are applied to individuals.  Conroy examines this in the face of the Wingo family.  When Savannah endures her own challenges, Tom and the rest of the family must also confront what happened and how what Savannah endures is something with which the entire family must reckon.  Conroy makes it clear that there might be situations in which individuals must strip away these social expectations in the name of upholding one's own psychological reality, a condition in which individuals are able to fully understand their own sense of self despite the nagging social reality that might cloud such an understanding.  If Conroy sees both notions of the good as colliding with one another, he clearly suggests that accepting the psychological notion of the good in which individuals are more in tune with who they are and what this comprises is more valuable than meeting external social expectations that fail to full account for the whole human being.  It is here where Conroy suggests that individuals must find the strength to break free from social expectations that do more to hurt the individual's understanding of self than nurture it.

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