Great Santini Essay

696 WordsSep 4, 20123 Pages
The movie, The Leatherstocking Tales, focuses on Natty Bumppo who is a strong and “an independent thinker in the process of shaping his own life” (SUNY). Not only is Natty Bumppo the hero of The Leatherstocking Tales, he is also the American archetype for “rugged individualism.” Similarly, the novel, The Great Santini, takes the reader into the family life of a fighter pilot named Bull Meecham, also known as “the Great Santini.” Bull Meecham never puts aside his unswerving loyalty to the Marines and does whatever he thinks is right; as a result, he also runs his family like a military unit. However, behind Bull's haughty personality is a pure affection, a love that is not always obvious. As the epitome of an “old school Marine,” Bull is as austere a disciplinarian at home as at the squadron. Comfortable only with the rules of a Marine, Bull loses sight of what a family should be; what works well in the Marines falls short in family relationships. One reviewer describes the Meechams as “ … a military family ruled by an authoritarian father who has more faith in the military institution than he has in his own family” (Hutchins 77). Throughout the novel, Lillian, his wife, and children face harsh disciplinary consequences. For instance, Mary Anne talks about Bull punching her as a child and tells Ben, “that was just Dad preparing me for life as he knows it” (Conroy 442). Lillian also explains to Ben, “Your father has taken the whole mythology of the Corps… and entwined it with his own personality” (Conroy 213). After Ben beats Bull in a basketball game, Lillian says, “You've got a strange father down there, Ben, but in his own way, that's him down there saying, 'I'm sorry, Ben. I was wrong” (Conroy 141). Although Ben doesn’t understand this at the time, Bull’s action shows not only the acknowledgement of defeat, but also the requirement of practice in order to win

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