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The Glass Castle Journal

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Living in Poverty: “We were always doing the skedaddle, usually in the middle of the night” Jeannette Walls’ family was living in poverty, so it is common to escape at night to get away from bill collectors and cops. However, Jeannette’s father made it more interesting by telling them the FBI was tracing after them. Self-Reliance: “…but you can’t cling to the side your whole life, what one lesson every parent needs to teach a child is if you don’t want to sink, you better figure out how to swim.” Jeannette and Rex (Jeanette’s father) went to swim at the Hot Pot. However, Jeannette does not know how to swim, so Rex tries to teach her a lesson of self-reliance by heaving her into the water and letting her sink, then saving her, and throwing her back in again until she learned how to swim. Fearlessness: “I yanked the pistol out of Lori’s hand, aimed low, and pulled the trigger.” Billy Deel was mad after Jeannette refused to be his girlfriend. When Jeannette’s parents are not home, Billy takes a BB gun to Jeannette’s house and starts to shout at the family.

Nonetheless, Jeannette stood out and uses his father’s pistol to scare Billy away. Alcoholism: “No one tried to wring dad’s neck or yell at him or even point out that he’d ruined the Christmas his family had spent weeks planning.” Jeannette’s father was addicted to alcohol. If he was drunk, Rex goes crazy and treats his family violently. During Christmas, Jeannette’s father returned home drunk and set on fire the Christmas tree, which ruined their Christmas. Forgiveness: “She added that you should never hate anyone, even your worst enemies. Everyone has something good about them.” Jeannette confronted her grandmother about not being prejudice toward black people and calling them niggers. Then, Jeannette’s mom told Jeannette to forgive grandma, by telling her that she never tries to hate anyone and that no one is perfect and to try to find good in others. Faith: “I listened to Dad’s plans and tried to encourage him hoping that what he was saying was true but also pretty certain it wasn’t.” Jeannette always keeps her faith in her father.

Her mom describes her as “Dad’s last defender” because she always believed in her dad, even when he was wrong. But now she started to doubt her father and finds it harder to trust him. Responsibility: “On morning toward the end of the school year, Mom had a complete meltdown.” Rose Mary (Jeannette’s mom) was irresponsible as a teacher and a mother. Her children helped her to grade papers and woke her up in the morning and she stop going to school when school was almost over. Also, as a mother, Rose Mary never intended to make money to save her children from hunger. Lost Dreams: “I braced myself, expecting to hear a scream, but there was only silence and then a small, broken whimpering.” Lori (Jeannette’s sister) and Jeannette were planning to escape from Welch.

They worked really hard to save some money, but their father took the money. This meant Lori will never be able to get out of Welch and go to New York. Reverse Roles: “Part of me wanted to do whatever I could to take care of Mom and Dad, and part of me just wanted to wash my hands of them.” Jeannette was struggling to help her parents or not. She doesn’t want to help them because she wants her parents to become self-sufficient, but at same time, she doesn’t want to see her parents homeless. Also, her parents refused to receive help from her. Responsible: “I’m sorry, Maureen, I said when the time came, sorry for everything.” Jeannette felt like it’s her responsibility to take care of Maureen. She thought she had broken her promise to protect Maureen when Maureen displayed weird behavior and stabs their mother. After Maureen got out from jail, she immediately goes to California without saying anything to her family.

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