analysis of glass castle

“The Glass Castle” by Jeanette Walls, is a novel about the hardships throughout her life and the several lives of her family and how they overcome those hardships. Within the novel, Jeanette goes into detail about some of the incidents that her parents made and how they each chose a different parenting style. Her father, Rex Walls, was very hands on with his parenting, while contrasting her mother Rose Mary was very relaxed in her parenting technique. In each of the tiny stories Jeanette told during the novel, they each revealed more about how her parents chose to raise her and her siblings. In order to be a successful parent it takes hard work and a lot of effort, but you have to achieve a balance between both hands- on and relaxed parenting. In an ideal parenting style, a parent would need to maintain an equilibrium of parenting and be involved in their child’s life but still be able to give them some space. This balance was never truly achieved between the Walls’ parents, Rex and Rose Mary.

While Rex was picking up Jeanette from the hospital once she burned herself (Walls), her mother would be at home painting or involving herself in some other art form to further herself as to becoming a bohemian artist. Rose Mary continued to place all attention on herself and continue to fulfill her dreams, which is something that should not be done once one becomes a mother. As a mother, someone need to be able to be compassionate and loving towards their children and accept them for you they are or might be and sacrifice for them so that they could have one of the most successful lives that they can. In the case of Rose Mary, she fails to do that even though her children may be starving, she still manages to eat a whole chocolate bar by herself. (Walls) In the case of Rex Walls, he is a dreamer. He dreams of a better life for his family and tells Jeanette that one day he will build a “glass castle” where one day the family could live happily ever after, so to speak. “He carried around the blueprints for the Glass Castle wherever we went, and sometimes he’d pull them out and let us work on the designs for our rooms.” (Walls)

Although he tries to provide for his family by being an electrician and carpenter and doing odd jobs from time to time, he still has his downfall which is alcohol. Rex is a terrible alcoholic which leads Jeanette into trouble since he asks her to come along with him to a bar in order to get more money. Rex is also troubled by the fact of fatherhood and parenting after the very possible assumption that his own mother sexually abused him as a child. (Walls) Rex Walls can be hands on and provide for his family but there are times when he is distant and out of touch. This can affect the Walls’s children because they feel as if they don’t have a father around. Ideally a child needs a father figure in their life. Someone who can take a leadership role and defend and protect his family if need be. Rex fails to live up to this role because of his stumbles with alcohol and the situations that the Walls family gets thrown into in every new place that they live. Jeanette Walls took a very specific way to how she wrote “The Glass Castle”.

She put each instance in the novel to make us think individually about each one and how it affected both her and the different members of her family. Her writing makes you think about what the qualities of an ideal parent are and how those qualities should be carried out. Both Rex and Rose Mary are not considered even close to ideal. Each one of Jeanette’s siblings had a different relationship with each parent. While Jeanette was her father’s favorite because she had more common sense and was smart like him, meanwhile Lori was her mother’s favorite because she liked to participate in the arts like herself. Brian neither favored either Rex or Rosemary, and Maureen was usually never home she was always at a friend’s house. From the novel, Jeanette seems to perceive her parents as failures.

They were never really around to support her or her decisions and therefore she had to fend for herself while she was growing up. She would look out for her younger brother Brian and Lori in the end would look at for the both of them being the oldest. Maureen being the youngest cracked under the pressure and wound up in a mental institution and in the end stabbing Rose Mary Walls with a fork. A parent’s role in a child’s life is to be able to support, protect, guide, love, and take care of them. The Walls fail to do so and the children of the Walls family have to learn how to be independent starting at a young age. “The Glass Castle” is a book that demonstrates the struggles of a family and the individual family member’s futures. But more than that “The Glass Castle” can be used as a demonstration of parenting and how it can affect the way that we would someday parent our children.

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