December 7, 2009
The Lords of Discipline
A novel based on his own military experience at “The Citadel”, Pat Conroy’s The Lords of Discipline takes place at the South Carolina Military Institute (a fictitious military school). Like most military schools throughout the United States, “The Institute” prides itself on its ability to transform “douche bags” to “whole men”. The authoritative figures responsible for this transformation are the cadre (upper classman), carriers of the ring (alumni), and General Durrell (the president of the institute). Similar to the supremacist nature of the city of Charleston, “The Institute” also has an illustrious history of rejecting many. The honor of wearing the ring, the ring being a symbol of graduation, does not come easy and for some does not come at all. Whether it is the dark skinned Pearce, the pants pissing Bobby Bentley, or even Dante Pignetti some cadets are simply not allowed to graduate from the school. No matter how intelligent, strong, or determined some students are forced to leave the institute in order to keep the reputation of the institute strong. Will McLean, an Irish Roman Catholic and the novel’s protagonist, did not belong at the institute. However, because of his status on the basketball team, like most other athletes, he was overlooked by the system allowing him to experience the institute with no real danger of expulsion. Will noticed, through his experience in the plebe system and curiosity for “Then Ten”, that this school was wrong. Will realized that the rules inside the Gates of Legrand were different from the rest of the United Sates. Will McLean along with his roommates, Mark and Pig, rebelled against the institute, disagreeing with its illegality and abuse of selected students.
As in most military schools, a system is put in place, to insure desired results. For “The Institute” there is three stages to achieving the desired result of becoming a whole man:...