Literary Techniques

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Conroy employs no unusual technique in this novel. Interesting to observe for those who enjoy his later works is the unfolding of his poetic...

(The entire section is 181 words.)

Ideas for Group Discussions

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Due to its strong depiction of family interaction, this lengthy novel will provoke ready discussion by readers who may recognize themselves...

(The entire section is 333 words.)

Social Concerns

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

In this novel, Conroy confronts the ugly existence of physical and emotional abuse as inflicted by a parent upon his spouse and children. He...

(The entire section is 474 words.)


(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

Burkholder, Robert E. “The Uses of Myth in Pat Conroy’s The Great Santini.” Critique 21, no. 1 (1979): 31-37. This analysis of The Great Santini discusses the ways in which Conroy’s treatment of the father/son relationship fits into the traditional Oedipal construct. Also examines the various mythologies that drive the characters and the resulting effects on their actions.

Burns, Landon C. Pat Conroy: A Critical Companion. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1996. One of the few book-length studies of Conroy’s work. Particularly useful in its examination of The Great Santini and another Conroy novel, The Prince of Tides.

Idol, John. “(Un)Blest Be the Ties That Bind: The Dysfunctional Family in Look Homeward, Angel and The Great Santini.North Carolina Literary Review 9 (2000): 142-150. Examines the effects of an abusive father and husband on his family in The Great Santini. Discusses as well the Meecham family as dysfunctional because of Bull’s unyielding abuse.

Paul, Don. “Pat Conroy.” San Francisco Review of Books 20, no. 3 (July/August, 1995). An overview of Conroy’s works, including The Great Santini. Points out the recurring themes of abusive fathers, controlling mothers, and troubled-adolescent rebellion in Conroy’s fiction.

Sanders, Vicki A. “Pat Conroy.” In Critical Survey of Long Fiction, edited by Carl E. Rollyson. 4th ed. Pasadena, Calif.: Salem Press, 2010. This critical analysis and survey of Conroy’s life and works is part of a larger, ten-volume set covering close to seven hundred authors active from the tenth to the twenty-first centuries.

Toolan, David. “The Unfinished Boy and His Pain: Rescuing the Young Hero with Pat Conroy.” Commonweal 18 (February, 1991): 127-131. A consideration of Conroy’s use of young narrators as viewed through the lens of his Catholic upbringing.

York, Lamar. “Pat Conroy’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Southerner.” Southern Literary Journal 19, no. 2 (Spring, 1987): 34-46. Considers Conroy in the tradition of southern literature, pointing out the themes of race and timelessness that abide in both his works and in traditional southern literature.

Literary Precedents

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

The Great Santini takes its place among the Southern fiction tradition in spotlighting the effects of the South upon its population....

(The entire section is 112 words.)

Related Titles

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

There is a close relationship between this novel and Conroy's The Prince of Tides (1986). Both novels share themes of abuse and...

(The entire section is 49 words.)


(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

The Great Santini was adapted to film in 1980, starring Robert Duval as Bull Meecham and Blythe Danner as Lillian Meecham. The movie,...

(The entire section is 103 words.)