The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls is a remarkable story about Jeannette’s life. She grew up with stubborn parents who were very poor and the family moved very often. They never had a place to call home. “We moved around like nomads. We lived in dusty little mining towns in Nevada, Arizona, and California. They were usually nothing but a tiny cluster of sad, sunken shacks, a gas station, a dry-goods store, and a bar or two” (19). Her father, Rex Walls was an alcoholic and would waste needed money on unnecessary items. “But Dad drank hard liquor only when we had money, which wasn’t often, so life was mostly good in those days” (23). However, when he was sober, he was a very smart and intelligent man. Her mother, Rose Mary Walls was a creative artist and enjoyed writing more then taking care of her four children. Jeannette lived through a rough life as a child. When money became short, the Walls family moved to West Virginia. Jeannette’s parents were not responsible enough to take care of a family so Jeannette and her siblings were forced to fend for themselves. She even managed to get a job and make her own money. After saving a lot of money in a safe, Jeannette found to her surprise that her father stole the money only to waste it on alcohol. The kids realized that it was not safe for them to live with their parents. Their mother and father could no longer provide good food to eat or clothes to wear. Jeannette’s older sister Lori was the first to escape. Soon, Jeannette and her other siblings moved to New York to join Lori. Jeannette did very well in High School and ended up at Barnard College. Even though the four children lived through a rough childhood that was hard to live through, they all managed to stay strong and pull through.
1. Despite everything, Jeannette Walls refuses to condemn her parents. If you were living in Jeannette’s shoes, how would you feel living with parents who did not take care of you? What actions would you take in order to take care of yourself? Would you still honor your parents?
2. As Jeannette grew older and lived in New York she still kept very close touch with her parents. They too later moved down to New York. If you were Jeannette would you still want to be close with your parents? Why?