From the southern tip Hilton Head to the shores of Daufuskie Island is just over 6,000 feet.
It is accessible only by ferry or barge, and today has a full-time population of just over 400. The island is also the setting of Pat Conroy’s memoir The Water Is Wide. The book recounts Conroy’s experiences teaching in a two-room schoolhouse on Daufuskie in the 1960s.
The school was the actual Mary Field School. The book changed the name from Daufuskie to the fictional Yamacraw Island. The novel names Conroy as “Conrack”. The teaching experience changed Conroy’s life and introduced a group of poor isolated children to the world beyond their isolated island.
Conroy was fired at the conclusion of his first year on the Island for his unconventional teaching practices. He refusal to use corporal punishment on students and lack of respect for the school’s administration led to his firing.
The Water Is Wide identifies as nonfiction and other times as a novel. It won Conroy a humanitarian award from the National Education Association and an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award.
Synopsis of The Water Is Wide:
Yamacraw, like the actual Daufuskie at the time, is a poor island lacking bridges with little infrastructure. The book details Conroy’s efforts to communicate with the Islanders. Nearly all of them are Gullah, directly descended from slaves. They had little contact with the mainland or its people.
He struggles to find ways to reach his students, ages 10 to 13, some of whom are illiterate or innumerate, and all of whom know little of the world beyond Yamacraw. Conroy, or “Conrack,” does battle with the principal Mrs. Brown over his unconventional teaching methods and with the administrators of the school district, whom he accuses of ignoring the problems at the Yamacraw school.
The Water Is Wide in film:
The 1974 film adaptation, titled Conrack, starred Academy Award-nominated, Jon Voight. In 2006, Hallmark Hall of Fame TV made the movie titled The Water Is Wide, starring Jeff Hephner and Alfre Woodard.
Source: en.wikipedia.org and patconroy.com.