Essay on Pat Conroy's Memoir "The Water Is Wide"

624 Words 3 Pages
Segregation in America has only just recently concluded. But during the writing of The Water is Wide, the people of Yamacraw Island must infinitely live in their stagnant lifestyle of illiteracy, and ignorance. The children from the island have received values and beliefs passed down from their parents. In Pat Conroy’s perspective, the government neglected Yamacraw Island and caused these values and beliefs to remain in use. In the memoir The Water is Wide by Pat Conroy, the author stresses the impact that segregation and national ignorance has on the people of a socially isolated town on Yamacraw Island, South Carolina. Mrs. Brown, the first schoolteacher on the island, most clearly demonstrates the theme of national ignorance. Mrs. …show more content…
Every so often, Mrs. Brown pokes her head in and attempts to steer Pat Conroy’s teaching methods back on course in her favor. Pat Conroy works for a revolutionary change in the students, while Mrs. Brown’s continues a heartless attitude towards the children. One day in class, Mr. Conroy tries to collect the students’ prior knowledge. Pat Conroy peruses their psyche’s by asking questions, starting from moderately hard, then gradually decreasing to basic knowledge. He eventually decreases the difficulty to one incredibly easy question to the normal American. For example, Pat Conroy relates, “’What country do we live in, gang? Everybody tell me at once,’ I exhorted. No one said a word. Several of the kids looked at one another and shrugged their shoulders” (Conroy). This quotation clearly demonstrates that the government almost completely neglected the students of Yamacraw Island. The students cannot even comprehend the name of the land that they stand on, which focuses on survival in the modern world. The title of the book, The Water is Wide, stands as an appropriate choice because the small river exists as the only thing separating Yamacraw Island from the rich, fulfilled life of the outside world. When someone crosses the river, everything taught to him or her becomes nonexistent on this new planet called Yamacraw Island. The people of the Island live a completely different lifestyle than

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