The Glass Castle
My Reflections on The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
The Glass Castle book is a memoir by Jeannette Walls. The book has recounted the irregular, poverty-stricken upbringing Jeannette and her siblings had encounter deeply by their dysfunctional parents. Jeannette is faced with numerous barriers throughout her life. Despite the many obstacles set forth by her parents during her childhood, Jeannette develops into a successful adult later in life. One of these obstacles is the lack of a stable home base molds her into the woman she grows up to be. Jeanette is the daughter of Rex her father who is an alcoholic and manipulates and knows how to use his wife and his children for his own needs and yet never stops loving them and hoping they love him. While Rose Mary Walls is the most selfish mother of the family who has taken her baggage with her and passes it on to her children. In spite that she still loves her family. Jeanette Walls was the second oldest of the four siblings in the walls family. Dissimilar to mom, she enjoys adhering to the rules even though she is always up for an adventure as well. Different from Dad, she has been committed to doing something that will follow throughout. Jeanette Sister Lori Walls is the oldest child of the family but isn’t the one who dominates. She is smart and loving, but without Jeannette, she hasn’t the courage to escape the life she hates. While Maureen Walls is the most fragile of the children and spends all her life looking for someone to take care of her. Her brother Brian Walls is the siblings that learn from very early at a young age to be the protector of his sisters. Jeannette was the one who often takes on the role of parents when they seek to act like children. But for much of the memoir, Jeanette adores and idealizes her father, and struggles to reconcile this idealized image with Dad’s reckless choices and mistakes. This paper will be focusing on Jeanette was three years old the family living in Welch and the boundaries that they have along with each role of the family members.
According to Garfat T (2017), “a system theory can be defined as a complex of elements in mutual interaction. When this definition is applied to families, it allows us to view the family as a unit and thus focus on observing the interaction among family members between the family and the illness or problem rather than studying family members individually”. An illustration of Jeannette family in the system theory depicted when she was three-year-old, Jeannette is the one that often cooked for herself hot dogs on the stove top. One day, while she was cooking the gas flame, catches on her dress. She was terrified, she calls for help and her mom rushes to her and raps her into a blanket, and a neighbor drives them to the hospital. Jeanette has spent several days in the hospital where she experiences having sleeping in a clean bed and receiving three meals a day. When her parents and her siblings, Brian and older sister Lori, come to visit, the family is loud, singing songs, and telling stories. The staffs were so concerned for Jeanette about her living condition at home but she was quite fine with her parent’s laissez-fairee parenting style. During one of the visits, her father was telling her about the story with Lori’s getting stung by a scorpion and how he and Mom took Lori to a Native American healer because Dad does not trust hospitals. He told Jeannette that her Mom should have taken her to the same Doctor instead of having her in the Hospital when Jeannette got burned. This was the system of Jeanette’s family her father does not believed in the Doctor and has a parent he did not have his daughter at heart he is only thinking about himself and she is sick. He believes that he did not need outside help from the Hospital to save his daughter life he rather brings her home instance while the mother agreed with him. Bad Parenting is the act of not showing the responsibilities that should be taken as a mother or father.
In The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls reveals the faults of parenting through the use of symbolism, imagery, and characterization. Rosemary and Rex’s Struggles to show their children (Jeannette, Lori, Brian) the importance of the appearance and guidance of being by their side as a parent. The father would use storytime at night to tells bedtime stories that focus only on him. This symbolizes his need for his children to believe that he is a strong and powerful father.
After Jeanette’s family has been driving for a month they have finally made it in Welch, West Virginia. Welch is known for having a picture of destitution and unemployment, though in earlier days it thrived as a coal mining town. Rex takes his family on a tour of the town and explains that the very first food stamps were handed out in Welch after hard times came to its people. Rose Mary sees the destitution of the town as an opportunity to establish herself as an artist since there would be no competition where she lived. Jeanette’s father has always been telling the story about building his house which he name called the glass castle. Welch was where his reality came into play in settle somewhere for the longest time that they could call home. Jeanette has wanted a house that everyone could see has different but her parents did not careless of her ideas toward fixing and painting the house their response was negative. The can of paint Jeannette used to try to make their house look better freezes and can never be used again. This is a symbol of the futility she faces when she tries to normalize her family. In going out of her way to get a ladder and the family did not help her to paint the house the father was not home most of the time either.
The parents show no interest in the welfare of their children’s living conditions. Jeannette’s mother and father show their faults by destroying everything the children try to accomplish because of their habits. Jeannette had to take on the responsibilities of her parent when they should be the one parenting their children she have to be doing it herself and catering for her other siblings as well. According to the handout given in class on let Mother take care of it as it is related to “Over functioning tends to feel that there is no option but to take on the responsibility and do the work required. He or she thinks the other is incapable of functioning in the area and feels forced to do it” In this case, Jeanette was the over-functioning person within her family all the time in taking on the responsibilities of getting everything done in the home. She was the one who have to get the family running because her parents were irresponsible.
Throughout the Glass Castle, there has been a constant shift in the mobile analogy has the family keep moving from one place to another there was no stability within the family system. An according to Miller. J (powerpoint 2019) the mobile analogy “It is helpful when thinking of a family as a system, to compare it to a mobile”. The father who had an addiction problem a Jeanette was the one who had to be taking on the responsibilities of caring for him and telling him how he should stop drinking. When Dad has lost his job Jeannette was the one who is telling them what they want to get a job and trying to maintain the stability within the family and keeping things under control. It has affected the children so much especially when he was drunk and could bet the mother and throw anything that he came in contact with to hit anyone that was in his way. That was not healthy for the childhood of his children to be explored to that kind of living it has a toll on Jeanette being that she was the oldest child. The mom told her to go and talk to her dad when he was drunk to stop the drinking and has a child that should have not to be her role to be taking on his lock of responsibility.
Jeannette is a hard-working and intelligent child who takes on every responsibility that her parents should be doing. While Jeanette would describe his father to be smelling like cigarettes, whiskey, and hair tonic. He has invented credentials to get jobs, which he never keeps for long. He is a dreamer who always has big plans but never put them into perspective. For instance, when they have to move because of bill collectors, Rex instead tells his children that they are being chased by FBI agents. Rex is plagued by drunkenness and gambling addictions so he keeps moving from one place to the other. The mom rose Mary frequently likes to withdraws her self into her world which sometimes to the point of placing her children in harm. According to Garfat T (2017) “role exists in all families, whether it be traditional roles such as a parent, brother, sister, or less traditional roles such as scapegoat, savior, or switchboard”. In the glass castle, the role changed when Jeanette and Brian have to be taking care of the house when the Dad was away. Both of them were digging a hole for the foundation of the glass castle they work so hard in making the best of it. Therefore the family could not pay for the town’s trash to remove their garbage and it was piling upon them. She has asked her parents what they are going to do he and her brother watched the hole all filled with garbage that they labor so much to dig. The change in roles may maintain the stability in the relationship, but it may also push a family towards a different equilibrium or dysfunction. Whereas the father he should have been the one that makes provision for his children’s health and he did not care less about there a living condition that was concerned to Jeanette. Likewise, Jeanette was the one who had to make her our food when her parents should be the ones to take care of her while she is three years old her role was to provide for her self.
The family was living in a toxic environment that was unhealthy for the children to be in consuming all of the harmful substances. The garbage in the hole beside their house, the rat that lays down in Maureen’s bed, and the frozen paint all represent the realities of Jeannette’s life that she just can’t seem to overcome. The children were the ones who have to be protecting themselves from the rat eating their food while the mom thinks that the rat needs food too to eat. How unhealthy that is for the mother to think that the rat needs food when it is passed on a disease that they can consume from eating the food on the stove. The parents did not improve in changing the living condition so that it could be more conducive for their children to live in they think all about themselves. Families are usually presiding over boundaries that are impermeable or permeable. In the family systems, the boundaries must be both permeable and limiting and if the family boundary is too permeable, the system loses identity and integrity. However, if the boundary is too closed or impermeable, the necessary interaction with the larger world is shut off. According to Garfat T (2017), families need to have boundaries that they can be provided with the need for help which can be associated with permeable meanwhile there must be a standard in keeping the family dignity. In Jeanette family, her parent has set their our boundaries in not want anything from anyone. While they were desperate and in need of help, no one could ever help them because their boundaries of not taking help from anyone have affected the family so much. To the point, Jeanette has gotten some clothing from school and the mom told her to bring them back even though they needed clothing. They were a system in place for them to assess for help and they refuse to do so which could may their life better but instead, they still to their boundaries.
Therefore, within the boundaries of the system, patterns develop as certain family member’s behavior is caused by causes other family member’s behaviors in predictable ways. While maintaining the same patterns of behaviors within a system may lead to balance in the family system, but also dysfunction. Jeanette’s parent was so self-reliance on one’s own decisions, capabilities, and resources. They become different from others that are living around them because of them refuse to accept any help from others to avoid them being a charity case and later on from their kids. They rather are homeless throughout their life as they liked the concept of wildlife and homelessness as an adventure which they pride in living this way. Walls Family System was a group of differentiated solid selves each one exhibiting their own adaptable.
The smallest stable relationship that forms the base of the Walls Family is the relationship between the trio-Rex Walls, Jeannette Walls, and Rose Mary Walls. As the ” triangles in relationships are any three-way relationship. The basic family triangle is father, mother, child. A basic social triangle might be criminal, victim, police. The classic triangle everyone knows of and probably thinks of when they hear the word, is husband, wife, mistress”. Garfat T (2017) As the triangle looks at the stable and unstable side of Jeanette’s family between the father, daughter combine mother, daughter combine apart. The three is the one that serves cornerstone within the family system. In the glass castle book Jeanette would be the one depicting her life has a child with the memories of her father as some of the best moments of her life. Regardless of the instances in which the father has failed to protect his children, refused to take responsibility for them, and even stole from them, Jeannette still loved him even until death for two reasons: one, because he is an ever ending source of inspiration to her, and two for his portray making her feel special. Jeanette’s mother Rose Mary was not an understanding and neither does she able to stand the responsibilities of being a parent to her children as she is expected to be the dominant force in nurturing the family. She would keep her own needs before her children just to please her self and never have time to put them first has a mother; when she finds out that the children would have eaten the margarine in the refrigerator, she says it is because of her children‟s selfishness. Concerning Jeannette, as a mother she was always absent.
In one particular instance, when she told Mary Uncle Stanley touched her inappropriately Mary‟s reaction to this was cold and shocking. “Oh, you‟re probably imagining it,”…..”Mom cocked her head and looked concerned. Poor Stanley he‟s so lonely” (Walls,184) writes the author. Instead of providing her offspring at least the warmth of embrace she sympathized with Stanley and offered Jeannette an idealized advice “she said that sexual assault was a crime of perception if you don‟t think you are hurt you are not.”(Walls,184). The memoir the comfort that the children would have experience with their grandparents was different. Out of the three, Grandma Smith was super special towards the children. Therefore, Grandma Smith represents the longing of Jeanette for responsible figurehead she could look up to and thus, seek refuge beneath. The Grandmother would set rules with punishments and was very punctual even though as a young child she loved her without end more than her daughter. Grandma Smith makes no secret that Jeannette is her favorite grandchild and she loved her grandma for the structure she brought to her. She writes, “But I loved Grandma Smith”… “I even liked all her rules” (Walls, 111). Maureen turned out to be different from other siblings. She was not around, or old enough when the parents had some good in them. In The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls have shown a lot of resilience by the way that she dealt with her family being different from most other families that are living in the neighborhood and how she was able to accept the fact that her family was poor. Jeanette would always try to look on the bright side of the most situation, even though it was not easy. It was quite amazing to seemingly the children stayed loyal to their parents throughout the unimaginable hardships. As Jeanette got older she comes to realized that her family was not like other families, and I think that she has accepted it. I feel that apart of Jeanette becoming resilience was being able to plan and be ready for her in spite of all the challenges she faces in childhood life.
The story from the glass castle depicted a scary and horror experience that Jeanette had throughout her childhood journey. Trying to intervene in the wall family would be difficult because of the closeness that is within the family plus the children kept everything within the circle because they did not want to disappoint their parents. Since they were taught from early that it does not matter what happens they are going to still together as a family which makes it more difficult to get the children to speak about the thing that they do not like. Jeannette and her siblings were the ones who overcame the hardships of poverty, lack of support from their parents to embrace their dreams. While in the real sense, primarily it is the lessons of self-sufficiency and fearlessness taught by their parents that provided them the necessary strength. As a Child and Youth Care Counselor, this book has opened my eyes to be more aware of the types of families that I will be working with and how I can be prepared to work with them. With the knowledge that I have now it makes me more aware if I see a family living in this type of condition, it is not safe according to child and welfare service.
The Summary of The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls is a beautifully told story of her not so average life. She talks about her dad, a smart engineer who cares about his children and has taught them many important lessons. But, when he drinks, he turns damaging and untrustworthy. He promises them that once he finds gold, he will build a glass castle so at night they can see the stars. Jeanette’s mom, a free spirited lady who devoted her life to her art and was overwhelmed with having to raise four children.
Jeanette’s family is always moving, living in strange deserted areas. Her and her siblings have to find ways to help themselves, for their mother did not pay attention to them and their dad was either at odd jobs or the bar. They barely ever had food, sometimes they would have to just eat butter with sugar.She tells different stories of her crazy life such as, living in a “ghost town” where she had to once get in a gun fight with another kid.
How she remembers living in Phoenix, where she finally had a home and she thought their life would finally turn around. When she was living in Phoenix, they lived in a house they inherited from their grandma. Her dad became sober after he had burned down their Christmas tree. Jeannette loved Phoenix, but soon the inherited money ran out and the Walls had to leave. So, the kids could only bring one thing to bring.
The Walls then moved to Welch, West Virginia, to live with her dad’s mom who was mean spirited. When the parents drove back to Phoenix to retrieve their bikes, grandma locked the kids in the basement. After that, the family bought an old run down house that had no running water and no electricity. Jeannette kept thinking they were going to leave but after 2 years, it became clear they were going to stay in Welch permanently.Their dad started drinking again and was barely home, their mom would not do much to help, sometimes buying herself chocolate and hiding it while her children had not had anything to eat. But the Walls children were smart and determined, Jeannette’s older sister Lri was an artist and got recognized for her art. When she came back from a art camp she got a scholarship to, she told Jeannette she wanted to live in New York and go to college there as soon as she got out of high school. Her parents supported her decision, for they always said to follow your dreams.
Jeannette decided that she wanted to go to New York with Lori as soon as she was done with Junior year in Welch, so she could finish high school in New York and go to college there. Her and Lori saved up money. When Jeannette is about to leave, her dad shows her the floor plan of the Glass Castle as a way to have her not want to go. But the next morning, he drives her to the train station to say goodbye.
In New York, the two girls are successful, both going to college there, but they feel guilty leaving their two other siblings in Welch, so as soon as Loi gets out of college, they bring their brother, Brian who has just finished high school, then a few years later when their youngest sister is old enough, they bring Maureen t live with them. Jeanette becomes a writer. Their parents come to live in New York, but are homeless. After many years, Jeannette gets married and is a successful writer, Lori is content with her art, Brian is a police officer and has a daughter, and Maureen moved back to California. Jeannette recieves a call saying that her dad is in the hospital. When Jeannette gets there she talks to her dad and he tells her how proud of her he is. He tells her he never got to build the Glass Castle but they had fun planning it. Then weeks later, he dies from a heart attack. Although they went through hard times, the Walls family stuck together through it all.
Parental Neglect in The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
‘Parental neglect refers to a condition characterized by parental failure to attend appropriately the physical, psychological, and social needs of the child’ (Khaleque 1). One deeply damaging and under-recognized type of abuse is parental neglect. In Jeannette Walls’ book, The Glass Castle, Jeannette’s parents’ neglect nearly results in her death multiple times with explosions, fires, and downright dangerous living quarters. Neglecting a child has serious consequences including social deficiencies, mental problems, ignorance, and physical problems.
Physical parental neglect leads to unsafe environments which can cause serious injury. Physically neglected children’s parents ignore the child’s environment and circumstances. Neglect may not initially present as very urgent, but when the child finds themselves in a dangerous situation with no help from their parents, this causes a dangerous, possibly lethal problem. When a child becomes severely injured or finds themselves in a traumatic situation it is known as a childhood traumatic event and on occasion will cause PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). These issues called ACEs (adverse childhood experiences) group together all traumatic events such as abuse and parental mental illness. People with more than one ACE have worse health outcomes. Natalie Burke with TED talk states, “The higher your ACE score, the worse your health outcome. For a person with an ACE score of four or more, their risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease was two and half times that of someone with a score of zero. For hepatitas it was also two and a half times” (Burke). ACEs are dangerous and not only increase your likeliness of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and hepatitis, but also depression (4x as likely), suicidality (12x), lung cancer (3x), and ischemic heart disease (3 ½x). ACEs hold a severely high risk of fatality stemming from the fact that the patient is twelve twelve times as likely to have suicidality and three and a half times the likelihood of getting ischemic heart disease, the number one killer in the United States. In the Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, Jeannette comes close to death multiple times purely because her parents decided they didn’t care to watch her, “So we mixed up a batch of what Brian called nuclear fuel, pouring different liquids into a can. When I tossed in the match, a cone of flame shot up with a whoosh like a jet afterburner” (Walls 61). In fact her father said, “It’s a place where no rules apply, or at least they haven’t figured them out yet. You-all got a little too close to it today” (Walls 61). Her father doesn’t bother watching his children and they almost kill themselves mixing chemicals and lighting them on fire. He even admits that they came close to death in his own metaphorical way. Physical parental neglect can be survived. If someone has been physically neglected they can live a full, self-sufficient life, but emotional neglect does not result in the same positive outcomes.
Neglected children may suffer from ignorance, mental problems, and may not receive adequate social exposure. Children when neglected are often scarred for life and they are worse off because they do not know how to behave. They often develop problems such as aggression, or insecurity because the parents do not bother to teach their children how to act or think for themselves. Youths with exceptionalities may not get the help and support they deserve. As Abdul Khaleque states, ‘Individuals who perceive themselves to be rejected by their parents or by other attachment figures tend to develop problems with: (1) anger, hostility, aggression; (2) dependence or defensive independence; (3) negative self-esteem; (4) negative self-adequacy; (5) emotional instability; (6) emotional unresponsiveness” (Khaleque 2). Children who feel neglected often lash out because they become subconsciously aware that they should feel cared for in a loving way. Low self esteem results from children feeling inadequate and unwanted. The emotional instability they experience removes any sense of normality from their lives, leaving them emotionally unresponsive. In The Glass Castle the Mother emotionally neglects the children multiplus times she even wants to stop working, “‘You can’t quit your job’, I said. ‘We need the money.”Why do I always have to be the one who earns the money?’ Mom asked. ‘You have a job. You can earn money. Lori can earn money, too. I’ve got more important things to do.’” (Walls 218). The Mother shrugs off all of her duties and throws them on her children not considering the stress she causes them. Putting the financial stress of the whole family on the children’s shoulders may cause copious stress. Which can lead to depression and anxiety which will mentally damage them and hinder their adult lives. While emotional abuse may mentally scar for life and physical neglect can kill, they can both be survived as Jeannette Walls proves.
In The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls shares her stories and experiences of neglect, abuse, and alcoholism and their impact on her life. Walls’ personal exposure to parental abuse left deep, lasting emotional and physical scars. Rosemary and Rex Walls’ deliberately neglectful choices created heinous social and psychological problems that have lasted Jeanette her entire life. Abuse in the form of neglect is an issue that touches us all. We want to pretend it doesn’t exist or apply to us, but it does. This problem will not end until we admit the problem, and we purge the world of its existence.
The Glass Castle Review: Taking Your Life in Your Own Hands
In life, we must have the perseverance to do everything in our efforts to succeed even if there are times in which we do fail. The Glass Castle follows the twists and turns, highs and lows, fallouts and reunitings of Jeannette Walls and her dysfunctional but loving family. Jeannette Walls, the narrator, reminisces back on the thrilling adventures, endless memories and the abundant life lessons that intertwined themselves with what her brother, sisters and her, called their hectic lives.
Rex Walls, the dreamer as he was known, was Jeannette’s father and the man she believed in most throughout her life, teaching her through strange situations, essential and memorable lessons to carry. Jeannette’s parents raised their children on the bases of having them be able to face any case without fear, trusting in their ability to handle anything thrown at them. Only our motives determining the notion of sinking to the bottom or swimming on by in life is the lesson that most impacted me. Surviving or failing to at whatever life throws at you is significantly affected by one’s will to either try their hardest and never cower or give in to the very thing that holds you back and never learn. One notable example of this occurs when Jeannette loses faith in her parent’s ability to take care of her or her family, so she takes matters into her own hands stating, “I had been counting on Mom and Dad to get us out, but I knew I had to do it on my own.
It would take saving and planning… It would be the beginning of my escape fund” (221). Jeannette depended on her parents to only want what’s best for her siblings and her, but she quickly realizes that for her to be able to get out of her parents hold and thrive is to do it on her own. Jeannette took matters into her own hands despite the situation at hand and handled it trying to endure on her own. Her motives and ability to try her hardest to help herself and her siblings proved just how hard she would work to survive. Another example that suggests this occurs when Jeannette decides to leave her husband Eric and the life that came with him behind her stating, “A year after dad died, I left Eric. He was a good man but not the right one for me. And Park Avenue was not where I belonged” (280).
This moment symbolizes Jeannette’s sinking period in which she had lost herself to the glitz and glamour and her rediscovery of herself upon leaving that life behind. Surviving was essential to Jeannette never wanting to have to live like her parents but upon looking at who she became and having thought she was surviving she sunk to the bottom losing sight of the person she was and the people who indeed knew her. Jeannette leaving behind her life represents her outbreak from the point in time in which she did cower from the truth of her past life and her ability to now swim back to what is real. Throughout the book, Jeannette believes in her parent’s ability to provide for their family, but as she grows up, she realizes the only way for her to survive is to take matters into her own hands.
Noah Carson Summer Reading Assignment
In The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, Walls utilizes a myriad of rhetorical devices to depict her unconventional and seemingly dysfunctional family. One of the most prevalent rhetorical devices used by Walls throughout the novel is situational irony. One of the characters that most epitomize this irony is the father of the family: Rex Walls. Despite Rex’s above average intelligence, Jeannette even stating that her father has “engineering skills and mathematical genius” (Walls 25), a large aspect of the memoir focuses on her father’s inability to hold a reliable job, an inability that, to some, would borderline sheer incompetence in terms of him sustaining his family.
A more specific example of this situational irony lies in the scene where Brian reflects on his birthday. He recalls that “Dad and Ginger went to the bedroom…so dad made [him give] Ginger the comic book, telling him it was the gentlemanly thing to do” (Walls 79). Given the fact that Brian is still a child, and cannot rationalize the magnitude of his father spending their already meager income on a female escort, and his qualms of having to give away his comic book to Ginger creates a sense of irony. The juxtaposition of Brian getting upset over a comic book whilst his Dad commits adultery in the same building as him showcases the constant irony that the characters display.
Throughout The Glass Castle Walls’ tone develops as she, herself, develops throughout the memoir. Scenes where she is younger have a childish tone to them. In the quote “Mom also believed in letting nature take its course. She refused to kill the flies that always filled the house; she said they were nature’s food for the birds and lizards. And the birds and lizards were food for the cats.” (Walls 64), Walls is very clearly aiming for minimalism in her word choice and word complexity. Compositionally, the quote almost becomes a run-on sentence, akin to one a child would make.
Structurally, the same can be said for the syntax throughout the memoir. Jeannette Walls keeps the storytelling simple, yet condensed. Akin to the tone, the syntax develops as Jeanette ages throughout the memoir. Sentences are kept at a minimal length. The sentence “mom ran into the room,” (Walls 9) best describes this intentional childlike minimalism. The syntax is kept short and compact, similar to how one would recall very early memories from life; condensed and remembering the gist of most scenarios. As Walls ages, however, the syntax changes; her memories and character have more depth, and thus her syntax reflects this in the form of being longer and more complex. Comparing one of the earlier mentions of her mom to a quote about her mom that occurs in one of the later chapters of the memoir “Mom stared at the ceiling, miming perplexed thought. “I’ve got it.” She held up her glass” (Walls 288), it is clear that the complexity of the syntax is greatly increased as the age of Walls increases.
Right at the start of the novel Jeannette Walls uses ethos to establish the credibility of the following text throughout her memoir. “I’d like to thank my brother, Brian, for standing by me when we were growing up and while I wrote this. I’m also grateful to my mother for believing in art and truth and for supporting the idea of the book; to my brilliant and talented older sister, Lori, for coming around to it; and to my younger sister, Maureen, whom I will always love. And to my father, Rex S. Walls, for dreaming all those big dreams.” (Walls 1). The way in which Walls mentions her brother ‘standing by’ her as she wrote the memoir and her mother ‘supporting’ the book is an attempt at convincing the reader that, not only are the contents of the memoir true, but they have also been validated by the very same people who are described in that memoir.
Walls evokes a sense of pathos in the line “After every game, Robbie wanted to dance with me again. It went on that way for a couple of hours, with Robbie getting sloppy drunk, losing to Dad, and groping me when we danced or sat at the bar between games. All Dad said to me was “Keep your legs crossed, honey, and keep ’em crossed tight.” (Walls 211). Not only is it clear that Jeannette is being used as a means for her father to gain the upper hand in a game of pool, but Rex’s utter disregard for a stranger sexually assaulting her, via groping, elicits a sympathetic response from viewers, not only because of the physical violation she is receiving, but because of her objectification from the other bar members, including her own father, no less.
Jeannette Wall’s portrayal of her life throughout her memoir is greatly complemented by her knowledge of when to utilize simplicity and complexity within her storytelling. Her knowledge of such creates an effective and compelling piece of literature
Ecological Systems Theory in The Glass Castle Book
Ecological Systems Theory and The Glass Castle
The Glass Castle is a very intense and real book that dances though many emotions caused by extreme situations. One way this book can be applied to our class work, is in the ecological systems approach. There are so many layers to the lives of the main characters and how the world they live in affects each of them. Their life is one that is very different than many of our own, yet some how they make it work. All six systems of the ecological systems theory come into play in this book and we can see how they work in situations of turmoil and celebration.
First we have dear sweet, Jeanette whom the story centers around. Her childhood was full of extremes and her stories seem almost unbelievable. She wrote this book to tell those stories. She is only a child, but she is already so strong, resilient and wise beyond her years. She takes on the role of basically taking care of herself while her parents are doing their own thing. Her strength comes from independence and she feels important because of it. In the book she mentions that she is proud of the fact that she can do things for herself because she thinks she is helping her parents out. She is a perfect example of a child that has been forced to grow up very fast. Her positive attitude and constant ability to see the good in people is one of the most important things that hold her together throughout her childhood.
Jeanette’s microsystem, the people that she is closest with and who she has the most interaction with, consists of her parents and her siblings. This alone sets her apart from the typical idea we might have of childhood. Her microsystem is almost exclusively her immediate family. Since they are always on the run or moving from place to place, she never has the chance to really let anyone else into her microsystem. At her age most kids have friends and teachers that they see on a daily basis and develop relationships with. She just doesn’t have that. Although she meets a lot of people, is around many different kids and goes though a lot of teachers, none of them are around long enough to be close and personal. This is strictly from an outside perspective looking at her life. I am very sure however that she would consider many people she meets to be in her microsystem because that is what she is used to. In her world of reality, the only consistent thing in her life is her family. Everything else comes and goes, and that is just the way it is.
Since Jeanette’s microsystem is so small, it makes it difficult to analyze her mesosystem. This is the system in which different elements of her microsystem interact with each other. She doesn’t have consistent friends or teachers that her parents interact with on a regular basis, and her parents are part of the same entity. So, for this system, I am going to refer to her time in the hospital. Even though her time there ended and they ran off to the next place, for that small period of time, the nurses became part of her microsystem. She saw them every day, interacted with them and learned from them. She enjoyed their company and all that came with being in the hospital. One day, a nurse showed Jeanette what gum was and she thought it was incredible. She thought it was the coolest thing she had ever seen, she was so happy. Then, her mother came in to visit and saw that she was chewing gum. She lost it. She couldn’t believe that the nurse would teach her child such a “disgusting and low class habit”. This interaction made Jeanette sad and she didn’t understand what the problem was. Here we see how two unrelated individuals in Jeanette’s microsystem interact, and unfortunately it was not a positive interaction.
There is a lot of things in this book that Jeanette has no control over, but drastically impact her. One of the big ones is that her dad doesn’t pay any bills. Though this is his choice and he is in her microsystem, he is causing debt collectors to be after them. They are constantly on the run and hiding from people to which he owes money. This is terribly disruptive to her childhood. She doesn’t have an actual sense of “home” because they don’t stay in one place for very long. She doesn’t have friends like she should because they are always on the run. Her only sense of security comes from her parents, and even that isn’t always there. All of this stems back to the fact that her family is always running from the debt collectors. She has no control over that what so ever, but it has drastically affected her childhood. Another brief example of this could be when her father loses his jobs. Jeanette has no control of her fathers’ place of work, but when they fire her dad, that affects her. Him getting fired means the family has no money coming in and that they will likely get up and move again.
For the macrosystem, there is a lot that could fall into this category. The fact that the family is poor means that the government and other programs could be of assistance to them. The society in which they live also contributes to the way that the Walls family functions. The jobs that are available to someone like Rex is also a part of the macrosystem. The economy and the fact that it is against the law to not pay bills affects the family and Jeanette’s childhood. Because there are laws about paying bills, Rex is trying to avoid the consequences by constantly running away from things without actually paying for them. The way that Jeanette’s family operates is extremely different from how most kids her age experience family and growing up. This makes her idea of family very different and the lack of friends her age helps her to believe that everything she is going though is normal because she doesn’t see or know anything else.
Lastly, I will examine the affects of the chronosystem on Jeanette throughout her life. Though her situation is one of a kind and very strange at times, it lends to a great analysis of the ecological systems approach. Each and every system is apparent in her life, but I would argue that the chronosystem has the most affect on her. As children we are so vulnerable and easily manipulated. Our minds are sponges and we are innocent. This is the time when we are the most easily shaped. All of the things that her family goes through in this book are crazy enough in general, but then to put a young child though them, is insane. Her entire childhood was messed with in so many ways. The timing of everything that happened to her just makes it worse. Everything that we have learned about child development is upset. She is not even allowed to be a child. She is forced to be an adult stuck in a small body. Timing of events can have an incredible impact on people. For Jeanette, each time her family moved she was affected. When she was burned cooking hot dogs she was affected. But, somehow she sees it all as normal and that everything is fine. She sees her family as an adventurous loving family. Though all of this sounds terrible development wise, maybe it was of some advantage that so much happened when she was just a child. She was able to have the rose colored glasses of innocence to look though. If all of this would have stared happening once she was older, she might actually understand what was going on and could have become very angry and resentful of her situation. The time at which anything happens plays a huge role in how it affects us.
All in all, this is one incredible story and there are often times that I can’t believe that it is all true. What a life the Walls lived. I think Jeanette’s husband was correct with encouraging her to write her story down. Not only because it is great to analyze, but because it is truly incredible. The way that ecological systems theory influences child development is extreme in this case. I have my own opinions on their family just as anyone might, but over all it is a fascinating story to look into. Ecological systems theory gives us a way to look deeper into the crazy dynamics of Jeanette’s world and the Walls family.
Rose Mary’s Actions in The Glass Castle Novel
Responsible (adj.) – involving accountability; ant: Rose Mary
Most people would agree that it is a basic responsibility of parents to provide food and security for their children, who are expected to respect them and take care of them in the future in return. Jeanette Walls, who leads us through the ups and downs of her entire life in The Glass Castle, received neither food nor security from her mother, Rose Mary. One of the strongest emotions I felt while reading this book was one of hate and disgust towards Rose Mary. Society expects those who have children to provide for them, take care of them, and hopefully show them love. Rose Mary, however, does not seem to want to have any of those duties and burdens. Although she is referred to as “mom”, she acts more like an egotistic child than an actual mother figure.
I never actually perceived Rose Mary as a mother; I saw her more like one of the kids who was much older than the rest. In many parts throughout the memoir, we can see that she was more immature than her children were. She never seemed to grasp the whole idea that parents were the kids’ role models, and instead acted like a spoiled adolescent herself. When Jeanette suggested that she could take care of children or the elderly in exchange for a decent place to live, she complained, arguing that she had “spent my life taking care of other people” and that “it’s time to take care of me” (307). Perhaps others can see why Rose Mary agitates me so much; she hardly even tries to take care of herself, as Jeanette pointed out shortly afterwards. How well could she possibly raise her children if she’s having a hard time getting her sluggish self off of the couch and go find work to support herself? There are many families out there that have a difficult time scraping by, but there are reasons as to why Jeanette’s childhood is so different from the ones of many others out there. Without proper food and shelter, parents can still raise their children fairly well by constantly showing and reminding them that they are loved and are given the feeling of security. Rose Mary, though, not only did not even attempt to earn a steady salary to support her family of six, but also spent what little they had on art supplies so she could work on her paintings that never made it big. She also constantly blamed her children for preventing her fantasy of being an artist from coming true, claiming that “she could have been a famous artist by now … if she hadn’t had children, and none of us appreciated her sacrifice” (225). I always felt as if her mother never, not once, tried to show that she cherished her children and cared about them. Instead, she would use them as scapegoats to blame the fact that she was a virtually unknown artist on, claiming that they were obstacles that blocked her way to make it big as an artist.
Even though she was capable of getting a job as a teacher, since she had a bachelor’s degree, she refused to get one for a large part of the memoir. When she did, she was incompetent of grading her own papers and has her children do it for her instead when she was so behind in her work that the principal threatened to fire her. It was as if Jeanette, Lori, and Brian were the parents who were helping their mother, or, in this case, the child, with her “homework assignments”, which were the papers that she had to grade. Like how moody four year olds would act when they didn’t want to go to school, “she’d throw a tantrum and refuse to go to work” at least once a week as her children would practically drag her out of bed and to work (236). Just noticing how roles of parents and children were switched in this family will immediately have the readers know how low Rose Mary’s mental age really is.
Another thing that angered me immensely is the fact that she never even seemed to notice that her children were starving more than half of their whole childhood. As a parent, wouldn’t it be necessary to notice your children’s needs and provide for them? Instead of buying food for her famished children, who she probably didn’t even notice were deprived of food, she’d go ahead and buy a giant chocolate bar and eat it under the covers as she gained unnecessary weight while her children were starving and were practically skeletons by then. While Jeanette dug through trash cans in school so that she could keep herself alive, what was Rose Mary even doing? Did she even notice that her children were practically slowly dying of starvation and malnourishment? If she did, she surely didn’t seem to care the least bit.
Since I believe that children are only expected to give back what her parents have given him or her heretofore, I do not think that Jeanette owes Rose Mary anything, nor is there anything that she is obligated to do to improve her mother’s lifestyle. Rose Mary had always been a negative influence to her and never expressed any sort of love towards her children. She refused to work or to sell her property to support her family, even though she owned jewelry that she wore for her own self confidence and valuable land that she would not sell because it has been in the family for generations. Though writing her off would seem like the better choice, there was a sense of guilt that came from Jeanette when she first hid from her mom, hinting that abandoning her would be morally wrong, even though “morally wrong” was what described more than half of Rose Mary’s actions throughout the book. If she never supported her children when they were growing up, why should she receive anything from them?
The glass castle
Parenting is far more difficult than people make it out to be. According to Carol Gioia, a Senior Community Advisor for Helium Network, “Being a parent is potentially one of the most rewarding life experiences a person can have. It might also be the most difficult, for parenting is a round-the-clock endeavor filled with demands and obligations”. Gioia makes a point that not everyone will live up to be “good parents” because no parent is perfect, but they can be good by enforcing a never-ending supply of unconditional love.
In the article “What Makes a Good Parent” Robert Epstein provides that some parenting skills have been proven to conduct better out comes in children’s happiness, health, and behavior. In the memoir The Glass Castle, the Walls’ parents are not perfect when it comes to their methods of parenting, but both Rex and Rose Mary do to teach their children valuable life lessons. Even though Rose Mary and Rex Walls’ are seen as unfit parents they both provide evidence of “good parenting” throughout events in the memoir.
They demonstrate what it means to be good parents because of their abilities to provide love and affection, independence, and knowledge. Good parents believe that giving their children lots of love and affection is the best thing for them. Like typical “good parents” today, Rex Walls, in his love, allowed his children to have faith in him by showing them love and affection. Rex Walls often bragged about his past and his future: “When Dad wasn’t telling us about all the amazing things he had already done, he was telling us about the wondrous things he was going to do. Like build the Glass Castle” (Walls 25). In this quote the glass castle is one of Rex Walls’ dreams and was thought of in such great detail that he would carry the blue prints around with him. He showed affection toward his children by enriched their minds with his stories and ideas like the glass castle to keep them optimistic during their family’s difficult times. At one point, Jeannette goes on to describe how other children spend their Christmas talking about how those kids are brainwashed into believing the myths of Santa Clause.
Rex Walls after losing his job responds with “Years from now, when all the junk they got is broken and long forgotten…you’ll still have your stars” (Walls 41). Even though Rex has lost his job and had no money to spend on his children for Christmas he gives them any star that they choose. Although it is not humanly possible for one to claim a star as their own, Rex gives his children a shot at a good Christmas. Showing them love and affection by giving them hope given that they are living a hard life as their parents struggle to earn money. According to Bridget Coila, “Parental affection comes in many forms. Parents can offer plenty of hugs, kisses and cuddles to young children, and babies”. While other parents might offer their love and affection through hugs and kisses; Rex Walls’ shows his affection through family projects and inexpensive gifts. Parents that provide love and affection will not only help nourish a parents’ relationship with their child, but to also achieve happiness in child’s life. Good parents will often allow their children some independence to have those experiences that will help aid them in growing up. In the article “Helicopter Moms vs. Free-Range Kids” Skenazy, a New York columnist, was provoked by criticism for letting her grade-schooler ride the sub-way alone. Skenazy stated in her blog—Free Range Kids—that “modern children need some of the same independence that her generation had. In the good old days nine-year-old baby boomers rode their bikes to school, walked to the store, took buses—and even subways—all by themselves”.
According to the article Skenazy believes that helicopter moms reject the idea of freedom and hover their child’s safety by having a needless overprotective security detail on their child at all times. Rosemary Walls, unlike typical “helicopter parents” today, allows her children to learn from life without parental help. Rosemary Walls felt that “it was good for kids to do what they wanted because they learned a lot from their mistakes” (Walls 59). This showed that Rose Mary did not worry herself about hovering over her children that caused other parents to make every decision for their children. Rose Mary encouraged autonomy and independence above all because throughout The Glass Castle, she never helped her children with anything and told them to do whatever they wanted without rules or guidelines. Rosemary was working on a painting a few days after Jeanette returns from the hospital (from the burns of cooking hotdogs). Jeanette asked her mother if she would cook her a hotdog; Rosemary said no. “‘Good for you,’ Mom said when she saw [Jeanette] cooking. ‘You’ve got to get right back in the saddle. You can’t live in fear of something as basic as fire’” (Walls 15). This is a great case in point that Rose Mary lets her child, Jeanette, at the age of three have the independence to cook for herself.
A parenting technique used to help a child make their own decisions and be more self-sufficient by not burning themselves using fire to boil hot dogs. Children that are allowed more independence and freedom to make mistakes and to better learn important life lessons by making their own decisions. In his article “What Makes a Good Parent” Robert Epstein discusses the Scientific American reports: research revealing ten essential parenting skills that were determined most important to bringing up healthy, happy and successful children. Epstein reveals one of the top ten is Autonomy and independence, “You treat your child with respect and encourage him or her to become self-sufficient and self-reliant” (49). Epstein is expressing the importance of allowing a certain amount of freedom for children to make their own mistakes and decisions in life. Although it might seem like the Walls’ are negligent at times, Rose Mary, allowing her children to go out and make life decisions by learning many life’s lessons to be more self-sufficient in the future. Parents that do not hover over their children about every little thing in a child’s life sets an example of being better parents.
Good parents will promote and help educate their children to gain an educational advancement for a successful life. Unlike typical parents today, both Rex and Rose Mary Walls top parenting priority is to provide an education for their children. At one point, both the Walls parents decided to enroll their children in school at Mary S. Black elementary school. [Rose Mary and Rex] had already taught [Jeanette] nearly everything Miss Page was teaching the class. (Walls 58) This shows that both Rex and Rose Mary main priority was giving their children an enriching intellectual education, even though they were enrolled in school late. Children who are found to be educated by their parents allowed them more a model of learning and to becoming successful in the future. In the article “What Makes a Good Parent” Epstein discusses the importance of parents educating their children. Epstein found, “that parents are far better at educating their children and keeping them safe than they are at managing stress or maintaining a good relationship with other parent…” (49).
Epstein is expressing the importance of parents educating their child can promote learning and provide educational opportunities for the child’s future success. Although Rex and Rose Mary Walls priorities were mixed up their best parenting skill was at educating their children. Parents that educate their child provide a pathway to success because the children pick up on what their parent’s morals and generally repeat when they later have children.
One might object to Rex and Rose Mary Walls’ being represented as “good parents” because they lack common parenting skills such as how they show their love and affection, and how they provide a healthy lifestyle for their children. For Rex Walls’ it was his overuse of alcohol that led him to neglect his children when they were in dire need of tender love and affection instead of a consistent stir-crazy drunk. Rose Mary Walls’ suffered through her depression of not becoming a full time artist, although she still focused more on her art than she did her own children. Rose Mary believes that “fussing over children who cry only encourages them, [she told her children]. That’s positive reinforcement for negative behavior” (Walls 28). Some argue that Rose Mary was introducing her morals of how to raise a child by not coddling them with love or affection. This quote argues what some readers see as neglect by Rose Mary for not caring for her children when they were hurt or in need of a little motherly affection. While Rex Walls’ was the provider of the house Rose Mary was a stay at home mom, a mom that could do the cleaning, the cooking, and the raising of their children.
Although she was hardly ever up to the challenge of feeding her kids, she asks the children “Why spend the afternoon making a meal that will be gone in an hour, [she’d ask the kids], when in the same amount of time, I can do a painting that will last forever” (Walls 56). Rose Mary’s question to the children foreshadows the events in the memoir when she puts her dreams of being a painter ahead of taking better care of her children. As one of Epstein’s ten competencies to predicting good parenting you must “model a healthy lifestyle and good habits, such as regular exercise and proper nutrition, for your child” (49). Epstein makes a valid point that parents should promote healthy life for their child by feeding them and encouraging physical fitness. Parents that do not demonstrate good health or proper love and affection for their child, for example the Walls’, are ranked as unfit parents. Even though the Walls’ demonstrate bad parenting by the misuse of love and affection, and healthy lifestyle they still show some parenting skills that can be recognized as “good parenting”.
Rex and Rose Mary show affection towards their children by creating a relationship of promises and stories of their adventures. They give their children independence and respect to encourage them to be self-sufficient and self-reliant requiring them to grow up sooner than later. The children are also provided an education by their parents, molding them into intelligent individuals at a young age to understand that knowledge is far more important than any parenting skills that predict good outcomes for their child’s life.
Shattered Glass – Analysis of The Glass Castle
As said by Mitch Albom, “All parents damage their children. It cannot be helped. Youth, like pristine glass, absorbs the prints of its handlers. Some parents smudge, others crack, a few shatter childhoods completely into jagged little pieces, beyond repair. ” The tightness of our parents grip upon us kids can reflect the way we function for the rest of our lives. Too tight, and we crave freedom and indulge in rebellion. Too loose, we become lost souls, hopelessly searching for that one constant comfort in a sea of disappointment and solitude.
In the case of Jeanette Walls, her brother, and sisters, their parents grip is unbalanced and sporadic, smashing the innocent glass of their childhood and warping their extreme way of living into a facade of normality. Jeannette Walls, The author of The Glass Castle, wrote this revealing memoir in 2005, and it is her most notable work to date. She previously wrote in a number of newspapers, including New York Magazine, USA Today, and Esquire, where she was a gossip columnist.
The Glass Castle brings the personality of Wall’s father to the forefront. Rex Walls knew how to slither his way around tight situations.
His deceptive charm and charismatic attitude landed him jobs that he could not maintain, and his knack for telling convincing false promises left his children clinging to any sort of truth. Because of his skills as an electrician and an engineer, Rex was constantly developing inventive contraptions that he hoped would bring great wealth to his family; thus instilling the illusive dream in his children of one day living in a glass castle – a glorious house made entirely out of glass. The paranoia that engulfed the Walls family stemmed from his total disbelief in the U. S.
government, providing the excuse that their nomadic lifestyle was because “conspiratorial FBI agents” were after them, when in fact, they were running from demanding bill collectors. Despite his brilliant mind, Rex suffered from severe alcoholism. Because he continually fell short of the expectations of fatherhood, he was overwhelmed with depression and sought drinking as a way to disconnect himself from his parental issues. Rose Mary Walls, a free-spirited painter and writer, heavily promoted self-sufficiency, and therefore led to her light parental control and lack of provisional care.
She taught her kids the power of resilience and gave them an appreciation of nature, literature, and art. However, her inability to hold down a job for extended periods of time evoked resentment in her children and caused their food supply to be as irregular as a place they could call home. Most mornings the kids would attempt to awake their mother and force her to attend her teaching job in vain, while at school they were bullied for their oddness, and would dig through the garbage after lunch, looking for scraps.
The combination of these two dynamic personalities caused their children: Lori, Maureen, Jeanette, and Brian, to suffer an unimaginably rough childhood, though their innocence hindered them from seeing it as so. At only the age of 3, Jeanette was trying to display her independence through cooking hotdogs without guidance, when her dainty pink dress caught aflame, insinuating harsh burns all over her body. After spending six weeks in the hospital and requiring skin grafts, her father “rescued” her by running out of the building before doctors could stop him.
This left Jeanette with troublesome scars and a case of pediatric pyromania, a disorder in which an individual purposely sets fires to relive stress or tension. Additional appalling events for a child ensued, forcing Jeanette to turn these situations into comedic incidents to cope with them. In one of their many hasty getaways from the “FBI agents,” Dad decided to throw Jeanette’s cat out of the car window, for according to him, “anyone who didn’t like to travel weren’t invited on our adventure.
” Lori was then bitten by a scorpion and writhed through terrible convulsions while Jeannette was accidentally thrown from the family station wagon and had to wait in the grueling desert heat until her family realized she was missing; later rubbing off dried blood as her dad plucked pebbles from her face with pliers. When Jeanette was a teenager, a neighborhood pervert molested her. Later, her parents decided to move from the Southwest area where their children had grown up to West Virginia, home to Rex’s family.
Near their impoverished household lay a river that supposedly had “”the highest level of fecal bacteria of any river in North America”, an obvious hazard for children. Hinting that Rex’s mother had done the same to Rex when he was younger, she sexually abuses Brian while an uncle of Jeanette’s molests her. These unnerving occurrences forces each of the Walls children to eventually escape from their deprived childhood and find refuge in different places, especially the vast city of New York. The appealing and creative style of Jeanette Walls offers an
entertaining story with an extremely heavy undertone. Her writing clearly shows how she and her siblings were thoroughly convinced that their unsettled, destitute childhood was an adventurous rollercoaster, full of excitement at what is around the bend, and never questioning what had previously transpired. In one symbolic scene, Jeanette tells her mom that she would water and protect the ancient Joshua tree they spotted in the desert from the wind so that it would grow from its gnarled, bent self into a tall, straight tree.
However, her mother replies, “‘You’d be destroying what makes it special. ’ She said. ‘It’s the Joshua tree’s struggle that gives it it’s beauty. ’” The challenges the Walls children faced in their youth make their ability to lead normal lives in adulthood even more inspiring. By writing with the non-judgmental approach of a child, Jeanette Walls weaves a classic tale of despair with the beneficial lessons she took from her past to evoke sympathy and anger towards Rex and Rose Mary for their parental choices.
Her descriptive vocabulary and complex sentence structure captures the reader’s attention and stimulates his or her imagination. Overall, readers will marvel at the strength and perseverance of the Walls children. The story is largely captivating, though dry at points and similar to plotlines of other books full of childhood despair. This memoir is not only a good read, but also an important lesson for all parents: be aware of the grip you have on your children. The amount of influence you have on your kids is similar to Goldilocks: it has to be just right.
That’s just Selfish
Parents who are selfish have a big effect on children. The way children are raised all depends on the parents. If they aren’t a good parent to your children and let selfishness get in the way of raising their children the right away it can have a large impact on the children’s lives in the future. When becoming a parent your job then becomes being a parent first over everything. Having a family means you do everything you can for the family even if it involves putting other things before your personal wants and desires.
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls is a perfect example of selfishness in parents having a large affect on their children in the long run. The Glass Castle isn’t just a story but it is someone’s actual life that was affected by selfish parents. The story is told by Jeannette Walls and is the story of her life and the ups and downs that she went through as a child with troubled parents and how it affected her life.
Jeannette was the middle child out of four siblings. She had an older sister Lori, a younger brother Brian, a younger sister Maureen, an alcoholic father and a mother who was only focused on perusing her dream of becoming and artist.
The selfishness started at an early age with Jeannette and her parents. Jeannette was three years old when she was alone in her kitchen in a trailer park in Arizona, standing on a chair cooking hotdogs over a stove when next thing she knew she was on fire. Her father was not home and her mother was in the other room distracted and working on one of her paintings. She was only three years old and her mother who should have been watching her small child was too busy working on a painting to notice that her daughter was over a stove cooking her food. The father was not home and when Rosemary Walls heard her daughter yelling and saw her in flames she wrapped her up and ran to the neighbors to call for help. Jeannette was hospitalized with severe burns. The nurses questioned, why a three year old was left alone cooking over a stove with no supervision. Rex and Mary Walls knew the nurses were asking questions and did not want to pay for a medical bill so they claimed that Jeannette did not need the hospital to get better, then they picked her up and ran out of the hospital without looking back while the nurses tried to stop them.
It was irresponsible of them to take their daughter with severe burns out of the hospital without having the nurse’s permission. The parents were only thinking of themselves and how this would effect them; they were not thinking of their daughter. The parent’s selfishness also impacted in the way the children were raised. The family was living in a town called Battle Mountain. The mother Rosemary Walls had a teaching job at the Battle Mountain Intermediate School. Rex Walls was unemployed and they live in a run down house with barely any food or clothes for the children. They were staying in the desert sleeping under the stars before Rosemary got the job at the school where the children were also enrolled. Rosemary believed that rules and discipline held people back and believed the best way to let children fulfill their potential was by giving them freedom. At the school Rosemary was teaching for, other teachers and even the principle started to become curious about the way Mary was teaching the students. Rosemary put her hardheaded beliefs first when it came to teaching instead of teaching the right way to keep a steady job to provide for the family.
Rex would use the money Rosemary made to take the family to the Owl club, a local diner, to eat steak every Friday instead of doing the responsible thing and using the money to buy a week worth of groceries. Rex was selfish with the money and used it for what he wanted without thinking of the family. The children would go days without lunch for school and Jeannette would often wait for everyone to leave the cafeteria to get uneaten food out of the trash. Rex’s selfishness also effected the children’s feelings and the way they viewed their parents. There was a place called The Green Lantern in Battle Mountain where a girl named Ginger worked. The Green Lantern was a whorehouse. One night Rex took Brian, and Ginger from the green lantern to dinner, after dinner Rex bought a hotel room where the three of them went. Rex and Ginger went into a bedroom leaving young Brian in the room by himself with his comic book. Brian knew what was going on but Rex put himself before the rest of the family and even betrayed Mary. Rex and Mary Walls put their selfishness first, not thinking at all about the needs of his son. The parents selfishness impacted the children’s life because they never did have a place to call home.
The Walls family just up and left Battle Mountain allowing the children to bring only one thing and to leave the rest of their belongings there. Mary enrolled the children into a public school in Phoenix the parents didn’t have any past record of their children or even their birth certificates. The house in Phoenix belonged to Jeannette’s grandmother who had passed away. Mary didn’t even mention to her children that their grandmother that they used to visit occasionally had passed away. Her mother left the house for Mary. Mary figured she would turn the front bedroom of her house into her art studio; she spent money on canvas’s, paint, and pastels for her studio when they could have used money for the children. Rex and Mary let the house go, they didn’t care and the house got cockroaches and termites. Phoenix was filled with gypsies and perverts. At night the parents wouldn’t even lock the doors or windows to their house letting the perverts look into Jeannette’s bedroom window at night.
The father’s selfishness ruined holidays that were meant for family. That winter the Walls wanted to have a good Christmas, they had presents under the tree. Rex was out drinking the night of Christmas, when he came stumbling home Rex used the new lighter Mary got him and lite the Christmas tree and all the presents and watched as it went up in flames. Rex sat and laughed as the family put out the fire and tried to save the presents. Rex ruined Christmas for the family because of his selfish ways and putting alcohol before his family on Christmas, a holiday meant for spending time with family. That Christmas was one Jeannette and her siblings would never forget. The parent’s selfishness was teaching the children that instead of facing the problems, you run from them. The family moved to Welch, West Virginia in a run down house they bought after getting kicked out of living with Rex’s parents because his mother touched Brian inappropriately and the Rex and Mary didn’t believe the kids because they were being selfish and just wanted somewhere to stay and have someone to watch the kids.
The family lived in a run down house with no electric or heat. “The cold weather kills the germs”, Mary would say. They hadn’t had clean clothes in months and Lori and Jeannette were getting fed up with living that way. They knew they would never have a chance at a happy life unless they left. They worked all summer to save money for a bus ticket to New York; they saved up enough money to send Lori there the day after she graduated. One day Jeannette came home to their hidden piggy bank broken on the floor. They knew it could of only been one person who took the money. Rex didn’t come home for four days and when he did he claimed to know nothing about the money witch was a lie. Rex had stolen his own children’s money to go out and blow it on booze. Lori was devastated but landed a babysitting job that would put her on a bus to New York at the end of the summer and that’s just what she did. Jeannette would shortly follow Lori to live in New York and go to college. The parent’s selfishness taught the children not to let their parents take advantage of them and to make something of themselves.
Jeannette and Lori were finally in New York and away from their parents. The best part was, they did it all on their own. Lori decided to have Brian and Maureen come live in New York with them. Jeannette got her own apartment. A few months later they received a call from Rex and Mary who had decided to move to New York as well. They were living on the streets but that’s where they wanted to be. Jeannette was embarrassed of her parents now that she had a nice life she created for herself. Jeannette went to an Ivy League school in New York and her parents were living on the street right around her. Jeannette never told anyone about her parents and would even lie about them if necessary, she was ashamed. Later Jeannette found that her mother owned land in Texas worth a million dollars. Rex and Mary had many chances to make life better for their children growing up. They never did, they were selfish and it caused their children to leave their parents and to later be embarrassed of them. All the years of Jeannette and her siblings cold and hungry and the whole time Mary had a million dollar land she owned.
That wasn’t the only time Rex and Mary Walls put themselves before what was best for their family and children. The children once found a diamond ring in some dirt when they were playing one day. Instead of pawning the ring to get groceries or clothes for the children Mary decided to keep the ring and wear it in place of the wedding ring Rex had once pawned. Rex even took Jeannette to a bar where he won money from a drunken guy playing pool and in exchange let the man take Jeannette up to his room. Selfishness in parents has a big affect on children. Usually the person you grow up to be is all determined on your childhood and how you were raised.
Your childhood makes you who you are and it can either make you or break you. Stronger people don’t let it break you. Jeannette and her siblings did just that, they decided they shouldn’t be treated or raised the way that they were so they did something about it and they made a life for themselves. Jeannette’s childhood will always be apart of her and haunt her. Childhood is something a person doesn’t forget. The actions of Rex and Mary Walls made Jeannette into who she is today because one day she decided not to let her selfish parents give her an unhappy life anymore and she did something for her and her siblings and that was getting away from Welch and not letting her parents take advantage of them any longer.
This is a picture of Welch West Virginia where Jeannette Walls and her family lived together last. This is the place when things really started getting tough for Jeannette. Welch was the last straw for Jeannette and her siblings and being in Welch is what pushed them to get away from the not so great life their parents had provided them and for Jeannette and Lori to follow their dreams and make a happy life for themselves.
This is a picture of New York. Without the dreams of living in New York they would have never made it out of Welch and away from their parents. New York pushed them to make a happy life for themselves and not to let their selfish parents use them any longer.