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Pat Conroy

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Karen Aschliman

on 11 August 2014

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Transcript of Pat Conroy

Introduction
Title: The Prince of Tides
Author: Pat Conroy
Genre/Type of literature: 1986 Fiction Novel Biographical information:
Pat Conroy was born in 1945 in Atlanta, Georgia.

The Prince of Tides appears to be semi-autobiographical as he was the product of an Atlanta beauty and a cruel, abusive father.

Conroy spent his childhood moving between military bases because of his father’s career.

Conroy attended the Citadel where he was very successful; he graduated in 1967.

Conroy became an English teacher and was fired from one school for refusing to administer corporal punishment and disrespecting authority.

He was married, but later divorced upon the publication of his painfully truthful novel, The Great Santini (which also resulted in his parents’ divorce).

Conroy moved to Rome in the 1980s, where he continued to write. He now lives in the United States. Other Works:
The Boo, 1970
The Water is Wide, 1972
The Great Santini, 1976
The Lords of Discipline, 1980
The Prince of Tides, 1986
Beach Music, 1995
My Losing Season, 2002 Literary Elements: Setting: Colleton, South Carolina and New York, New York Characters: Tom Wingo, a teacher and football coach from South Carolina
Sallie, Tom’s wife
Lila, Tom’s status-hungry mother
Savannah, Tom’s sister and a successful writer who recently attempted suicide again
Susan Lowentein, Savannah’s therapist
Herbert, Susan’s husband
Bernard, Susan’s son Plot Summary: Tom is asked by his mother to travel to New York to help his twin sister's psychiatrist, Lowenstein, after his sister Savannah's latest suicide attempt.

In flashbacks, Tom relates incidents from his childhood to Lowenstein in hopes of discovering how to save Savannah's life. The Wingo parents were an abusive father and an overly proud, status-hungry mother.

Tom is also torn with his own problems, but hides behind what he calls "the Southern way"; i.e., laughing about everything. For example, his wife Sallie is having an affair and her lover wants to marry her. Tom and Lowenstein begin having feelings for each other. After Tom discovers that she is married to Herbert Woodruff, a famous concert violinist, Lowenstein introduces Tom to her son Bernard, who is being groomed to become a musician as well but who secretly wants to play football. Tom starts coaching Bernard along with attending sessions with Lowenstein to help his sister.

Tom has a fateful meeting with his mother and stepfather, bringing up painful memories. Tom reveals that, when he was 13 years old, three escaped convicts invaded his home and raped him, along with his mother and sister. His older brother, Luke, killed two of the aggressors with a shotgun, while his mother stabbed the third with a kitchen knife. They buried the bodies beneath the house and never spoke of it again. Tom suffers a mental breakdown, having now let loose a key piece of Savannah's troubled life.

After a session of football, Herbert orders Bernard to return to his music lessons and prepare to leave for school. Tom is invited to a dinner at Lowenstein's home, along with poets and intellectuals. Herbert is overtly rude and reveals that Tom's sister is in therapy with his wife. Infuriated, Lowenstein voices her suspicions about her husband's affairs. Tom defends her honor.

Tom spends a romantic weekend with Lowenstein at her country house. Savannah recovers and is about to be released from the hospital when Tom realizes that he wants to be closer to his wife and children, despite having fallen in love with someone else. He returns home, but his last thoughts are of Lowenstein. Conflicts: Person vs. Person; Person vs. Self; Person vs. Society Themes: The dehumanization of the modern American male
Male chauvinism as masculinity
The American South
Feminism Important Quotes
“I can’t tell you why I do it or what it means, but each night when I drive toward my southern home and my southern life, I whisper these words: ‘Lowenstein, Lowenstein.’”

Significance: This quote is important because it is the last line of the book, and because it is significant of the choice Tom made. If he didn’t have thoughts of her, I would believe in his “happy” endings.

Connections: My connection to this quote is that I have certainly felt the pull of two worlds in which I had to make a choice. Sometimes we do what is best for the majority when it isn’t best for us. Everyone must self-sacrifice at some point. Quote to highlight major conflict: “From that day, I renounced that part of me that was his and hated the fact I was male (118).

Significance: Tom makes this statement after he has recalled the first time he witnessed his father’s brutality. This quotation is important because it touches on many of the themes of this novel: the dehumanization of the American male, chauvinism, the place of women in southern society. Tom will lead a life in which he battles being male.

Conflict revealed: This quote is important because it is the physical and mental violence of his father, his emotional violence by his mother, and the traumatic experience of his family being terrorized by the three escapees and his rape that causes his sister’s mental illness and his own internal torture that shapes their lives. Concluding Remarks: Conroy's style and voice is so beautiful it should be read out loud. He perfectly puts down in words the conflict southerners feel while also creating rich, deeply layered characters that we can all relate to despite their own struggles being so different than our own. I encourage EVERYONE to read this book. It is drama, comedy, and romance rolled into one beautiful literary feast. Setting: Colleton, South Carolina and New York, New York

Characters: Tom Wingo, a teacher and football coach from South Carolina


Sallie, Tom’s wife


Lila, Tom’s status-hungry mother
Savannah, Tom’s sister and a successful writer who recently attempted suicide again
Susan Lowentein, Savannah’s therapist

Herbert, Susan’s husband
Bernard, Susan’s son
Full transcript