‘The Glass Castle’ by Jeannette Walls
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Jeannette Walls, the author of the novel The Glass Castle wrote the novel based on her life, specifically her childhood. A memoir of how her life could be so down-the-drain; yet she becomes successful in a writing career. Normally the child would grow up to be an exact duplicate of one of their parents or guardians. She however didnt become a clone, but the complete opposite of her parents that others might start to believe that she is not their daughter that they brought up. This book can be criticized in two different types of criticism: reader response criticism and deconstructive criticism.
Reader response criticism is a criticism that has the reader express his or her impression of the authors work without knowing the true intention of the author. Jeannette Walls is skillful in retelling her life. She explains every memory that she could remember from the age of three to the age of twenty-eight with every detail, to make her reader feel like they are the ones experiencing every moment of her life. It also makes the reader feel like they are listening to a personal story told to them by the author herself over a cup of coffee. A reader could also get the feeling of reading the authors personal diary, with well described details of each event. Jeannette could make her readers feel like theyre in three different types of situation when reading in the first person. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden also used the writers technique of the first persons point of view to make the reader get an illusional sense of being the one experiencing the situation.
He shows this when he writes that the main character saying in her own mind I hadnt realized how much Gion seemed like home to me, until I noticed myself feeling out of place at the university (227). I could imagine myself living step by step in the main characters life and doing all the things that she does. Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood had also used the same technique to emphasize the main characters horrible life. Memoirs of a Geisha and Alias Grace, both novels have a young female character thats survived a deadly childhood, and ends up to become a decent responsible adult; just like Jeannette herself. She pulls the most intriguing memories that has a huge effect on the reader either one of those unforgettable moments, or horrible times that anyone would pay to escape from, and tells each one in a way that leaves a footprint in the readers mind.
In my opinion, the author is incredibly strong in spirit. Jeannette Walls retold one of her Christmas times, the time when her father took her outside into the desert night to see the stars shining brightly. His gift to her siblings and her was to claim a star for themselves. He believes that no one else owns them, you just have to claim it before anyone else does (40). He told Jeannette when she was young that years from now, when all the junk [other childrens] got is broken and long forgotten, youll still have your stars (41). Her father can be a little strange in his ways of thinking however some are worth your time hearing them. Every time something horrible happens to the author, she doesnt pity herself but instead makes the situation more positive to the reader than it actually is.
At the age of three, she cooked hot dogs for herself and burned herself, yet she doesnt blame her parents. An article in the magazine Parents, in the March 2006 volume 81 issue 3, researchers are saying that the Significance of teaching moral values to children at an early age. Jeannette also talks about her youngest sister having behaviors [which] can cause children to be aggressive, hostile and difficult to handle, which may emphasize their respective limitations (Melinda J. Hill). However her parents believe that she will grow out of the problem instead of helping her face the problem as real parents should.
Deconstructive criticism is a type of criticism that describes the authors work where one thing is said; however the opposite is meant. Jeannette Walls has a great way in capturing the readers attention at the very beginning of the book. She describes the way shes living now and talks about her youth, taking the reader back in time to when she was but a young child of three. She describes every event that changes her life until she is in her late twenties. She stops at about the age of twenty-eight years old, the age where she married to John Taylor, her second husband. She manages to describe every turn of event with humor even if it is the most horrible situation of all.
Jeannette Walls describes her life with a very constant positive attitude even though her life was similar to living in a dumpster. Shes even grateful to her parents to the way her life turned out. Jeanette is either extremely crazy or loves her father too much, that she doesnt realize when shes in danger. She tells the story where her father takes her to the zoo, to risk her own life by believing in her fathers phrase situation under control to touch a living cheetah (108).
Overall Jeannette Walls is amazing at retelling her life story from when she was just a baby at the age of three to when she gets in her late twenties. She complained a little bit when she was but a child however as an author she doesnt pity herself or complains it now. She makes every disaster and every lucky situation an adventure that helps her become the person she is today.
Golden, Arthur. Memoirs of a Geisha. Knopf: 1997.
Atwood, Margaret. Alias Grace. McClelland & Steward: 1996.
Rosen, Peg. How to Raise a Really Good Kid. Parents ; Mar2006, Vol. 81 Issue 3, p126-197, 6p, 2c.
Hill, Melinda J.. Problem Behaviors With Children.