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Free Study Guide for The Great Santini by Pat Conroy

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The Great Santini Study Guide

Chapter 3 Summary

A month after his arrival, Bull Meecham was still doing the same routine that he did during the mornings in the military, bothering his wifeís sleep. Itís obvious that Bull runs the same strict routine in their household as they did back when he was still stationed. His sons arenít safe from the same treatment either. They were getting ready to move to Georgia and he was busy memorizing a road map while his family got ready.

His mother-in-law, Alice Sole, was not too happy about waking up at two in the morning just because Bull preferred to drive during that hour. Ben and Matthew loaded a mattress at the back of their station wagon so they can sleep during the journey. Alice started crying and told her daughter that she was sad to say goodbye to Lillian and the kids.


The family moved several times throughout their lives together because of Bullís job. He always felt better whenever heís on the road, being upset whenever things go wrong during trips. Bull suddenly said a racist remark; which silenced the children. Lillian, not wanting to upset her husband, felt the pressure from the silence of her kids. She had to speak up and scold Bull about it. The Meecham family has a song that they usually sing on the trips; they think that families without songs are unhappy families.

After an argument about the South, Lillian decided to say the rosary instead so they can have a safe trip. She unearthed a rosary from Bull, which he got from Rome and was blessed by the Pope. Not wanting to fall asleep during the drive, Bull assigned Ben to keep him awake. After a long silence, Bull and Ben started talking about flying. Ben admitted to his dad about his desire to become an Air Force pilot. Bull contradicted him and told him that the best people are with the Marine Corps. Ben told him that he still has plenty of time to decide, but Bull has already made the decision for his son. Ben, feeling his father was unfair, brought up the death of Bullís brother.

Bull, letting his son sleep, amused himself during the drive by running over the turtles that were crossing the road with the car. Notes: In the chapter, Bull and Lillianís differences in personality are hinted, yet havenít been delved into. Bullís authoritativeness and Lillianís gentleness towards the children are shown.



Chapter 4 Summary


An hour before dawn, Bull stopped the car at a country crossing. He started thinking about what awaits his family once they reach Ravenel. He initiated waking everyone up for a bathroom break. Ben decided to pee with his dad, who began making excited comments about the rains that were passing them by.

By the time dawn broke, they were within 65 miles of the Marine Corps air station in Ravenel. Bull and Lillian started talking about the Marine Corps and how their old friends were doing. Most of their conversations were centered around Bullís job or their familyó rarely about other stuff.

Ben overheard his father saying that theyíve been out of Georgia for half an hour already. Being born in the state, Ben felt a strong bond to it unlike his father who hated it. His father got annoyed when he used the word ďYaíllĒ in one of his sentences. Bull hated Southern accents. He wanted to make sure that his children hasnít been influenced by the South too much and decided to play ďCapitalsĒ with the kids. The kids then start wondering why they arenít sent overseas likes the families of those in the Air Force. Finally, the family arrived at their new home. Mary Anne started weeping. She didnít like the place. She was upset about having to move again. Bull got mad at the children for being noisy. Each of them knew that it was time to stiffen up. The tone of their father was enough to put them in their place.

Notes: The chapter depicts the childrenís attachment towards the South and how much they dislike moving around because of their fatherís career.

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