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Free Study Guide for The Great Santini by Pat Conroy

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Chapter 5 Summary

The family finally arrived in Ravenel and Lillian made an observation that it does look like a military town, albeit, in they were to move in the bad part of it. However, she was surprised when she discovered that the town actually had nice houses. Bull was still keeping the appearance of their house a secret from his family, eager to surprise them all. Indeed, the rest were all surprised about the house that Bull picked for the family. He didn’t just choose a house— he went out and chose a mansion that belonged to a man from Chicago who is set to retire in two years’ time. Bull gave his kids a little pep talk since they’re all new to the area, still not forgetting to assert his status as head of the household. The kids breathed out a sigh of relief when Lillian banished Bull from hanging around the household once they start moving their furniture in. Ben was awed at how happy his mother looked while looking around the house. He knew that his mom has always wanted to be the mistress of a beautiful home.



Bull was standing at the front door when he expressed his concern to Lillian. He was feeling unsure about Varney, the one in charge of deciding whether Bull was ready to head his own squadron or not. Lillian reassured her husband and complimented him for outdoing himself with picking out their new house. By noontime, the movers finally arrived with all their things. Lillian and the children had a busy day ahead of them. The kids were appalled by their father’s taste in furniture, which were mostly stuff that he got while he was stationed overseas. Despite this dislike for the furniture, they were forced to display it around their house to save Bull’s feelings. There was a box labeled “shrine” among their things, something that Lillian won’t let anyone touch. She carefully unpacked the box, which revealed to contain icons and statues of Catholic figures such as the Virgin Mary and Michael the Archangel. She arranged the contents of the box at a special place in the house and asked the children to gather beside her to give thanks to the Blessed Mother for their safe trip earlier during the day.

Notes: Bull showed a little vulnerability, albeit only in front of his wife, because of his fear towards achieving something that he has worked on for so long.



Chapter 6 Summary


Bull watched an F-8 lift off from a runway. He felt that familiar thirst he always had for flying, the absence became very evident ever since he reunited with his family. He confronted a guard who failed to identify him properly. He was at the Air Station to see Colonel Hedgepath. A sergeant told him that Hedgepath was in the latrine. Bull went inside the stall next to where he assumed Hedgepath was. He pulled “Hedgepath’s” legs towards his stall. His first instinct was to flush the other officer’s head down the toilet—until he realized that the officer wasn’t Hedgepath. It was a different corporal.

Bull collected himself and pretended that he did that to the corporal to test his vigilance during surprise attacks. The corporal identified himself as Atchley. Bull provided the boy a fake name, telling him that he was Colonel John J. Jones and informed him that the test was confidential. Bull made his way back to the office and told the sergeant from earlier that Hedgepath wasn’t in the latrine, to which the sergeant responded that Hedgepath just arrived in his office.

Hedgepath Jokingly attacked Bull as he entered the office. Hedgepath brought up the incident at the latrine and laughed at Bull. The two started talking about the status of their comrades. Hedgepath advised Bull to get on the good side of Varney, a colonel in charge of assigning the air officers.

Bull visited Varney in his office and suddenly turned submissive. Varney informed him that he’s assigning Meecham to take command of squad 367. Varney stated everything that he thought was wrong with Bull’s attitude, hoping that Bull fails to lead the squadron. Despite the harsh treatment, Bull still showed respect towards Varney, who welcomed him to the team.

Notes: As with Chapter 1, the pranks within the Marines are normal for those with seniority. Bull’s ability to talk his way out of everything was depicted here. Varney, having a higher position, was able enough to restrain Bull’s way of asserting his dominance.

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