The Glass Castle: The Hopelessness Of Rex Drinking And Impact On The Family

April 27, 2022 by Essay Writer

The Glass Castle is based on a true story and focuses on the life of a young girl and her family. The story is very raw and illustrates the situations that Jeannette and her family face. The Walls are not the normal idea of an American family. In fact, they’re the complete opposite. The family’s lifestyle however is normal for them and they adjusted to new changes very quick. The mom and dad are both very broken and it affects the Walls children greatly. The daughter, Jeannette Walls, and her siblings: Lori, Brian, and Maureen, stuck together throughout the story and were determined to survive the struggles and challenges of being a Walls. 

During the course of the memoir one of the hardest issues in the Walls family was the father, Rex Walls. Rex Walls was a wise man and he was always teaching the children things that they needed to know to make it in life. The children were amazed by the random facts he knew. He was also a very determined man. Rex had a plan to build a glass castle that the family would eventually live in. Everytime he mentioned it, the whole family’s eyes would light up with excitement and they believed that their life was going to change for the better. You would think that Rex was just a normal father trying to provide for his family. However, he wasn’t. Rex Walls was an alcoholic. Rex was a mean, abusive drunk most of the time. He made all of the decisions for the family and never asked anyone how they felt. Rex never liked to settle in a town for too long. Mainly because he couldn’t keep a job and the family had no money to live on. He would wake the family up in the middle of the night screaming and would force them to leave and find somewhere new to “start over”. Since their father was rushing them, each family member would grab as much as they could and cram it into their car. The kids did not have the ideal childhood that most children do because of this. They quickly figured out that they shouldn’t get attached to people and places because sooner or later, they would have to leave. 

Rex Walls almost always had a cigarette in his mouth and a drink in his hands. The alcohol would transform him into a cruel person so his wife never went against his word and her and the children would go along with everything he ordered. Their mom, Rose Mary, wasn’t the biggest help either. She tried to look at the positive side of every situation but it was obvious that she was hurting on the inside. Her husband controlled her life and she did nothing to change that. Rose Mary was scared of him and dreamed of him being the man again that she fell in love with one day. Rose Mary was also an artist. She loved to paint and valued her paintings greatly. Looking at them instantly made her happy and she protected her artwork and didn’t let anything happen to her canvases. Rex and Rose Mary were always doing their own thing most of the time so Jeannette and her siblings learned to take care of themselves. The children became very independent at a young age because they had to. The siblings grew very close because of this and they were always looking out for each other. The children are often at the mercy of their parents’ decisions throughout their life and all developed ways to make it through everything they faced along the journey. Lori Walls is the oldest out of the siblings. 

Lori is very smart, sarcastic, and protective. As she became older she began to use sarcasm to deal with and respond to situations. Throughout her life she had a dream to move to New York and start and new, better life for herself. She also imagined her siblings being with her there so she wanted to help them make it there too. Lori was the first sibling to make it out of the house and start her new life. Even though she left, she still continued to keep in touch with Jeannette. Jeannette Walls is the next oldest sibling and most of the story is revolved around her. Jeannette was the most independent out of the children and she would do most of the cooking for her family. She had many rough moments throughout her childhood but she pushed through them and it made her a stronger person. She also had the most most faith in her father when everyone else didn’t. Jeannette and Rex had a connection that no one else in the family had. She believed that one day he was going to change for the better and he was going to be the father that she always hoped he’d be. Jeannette felt hopeless at times but she was determined to help her father transform into a different man. Jeannette saw how happy the glass castle made her father and she was willing to do anything to make it happen. She loved Rex and admired the person he was when he wasn’t drinking. The baby brother is named Brian and he is admired by his sisters. 

His sisters think of him as a positive light and enjoy being around him. Brian is a quiet person and his father is hard on him at times because he wants him to be tough. Brian was also sexually abused by his grandma, Erma. This affected Brian greatly and his sisters were always looking out for him after that. However, he became for defensive after that and faced the problems that were thrown at him rather than ignoring them. Maureen Walls is the youngest and she was the hardest sibling to understand. She was basically raised by her older siblings and she was always being looked out for. She didn’t make the smartest decisions and she even got placed into a mental hospital. Each one of the Walls siblings found a way to survive their parents’ and their childhood shaped each one of them differently. Throughout the story, it becomes very easy to determine and notice who the protagonist and antagonist are in the story. The protagonist in the story is Jeannette Walls. 

The book is through her point of view and she describes many of the rough and hopeless times that she went through. She grows as an individual as her life goes on and she begins to face her problems rather than ignoring them. The antagonist is her alcoholic father and he is the main problem behind all of the family’s issues. During most of the story, Rex is drunk and he was a cruel person. He put his own needs and interests before his family. He made the call when they were going to leave town and it was mainly because he couldn’t keep a steady job. Rex would scream at the family if anyone questioned his decisions and he would sometimes even throw things. Rex put his family through many rough patches and wasn’t the best provider for them. He did have his good moments but they would quickly end. 

Rex Walls looked at his family like they were a distraction for the most part. Rex was the opposite of what a father should be; especially when he had alcohol in him that caused him to be the antagonist. There are many themes that are shown in the story. One of the biggest themes is family loyalty. Rex and Rose Mary Walls put their children through some rough situations that children shouldn’t have to go through. No matter how rough it got, the children would face the problem together and look out for one another. The Walls siblings were so protective of each other and wouldn’t let anyone mess with them. Another theme is contentness. The Walls didn’t have a lot and their living conditions weren’t the best. The kids never complained about what the had or didn’t have. They never compared themselves to other families that they knew or noticed and they felt content with what they had. 


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