The Glass Castle


One theme of The Glass Castle would be forgiveness. Events from the novel to demonstrate this theme would be the numerous occasions when Jeanette overlooks the mistakes her father makes throughout the book, even though it causes everyone in the family to suffer or the various times Rose Mary excuses the hurtful things Rex does.  Another theme of The Glass Castle would be Hope. It means that no matter how bad the family fell apart, Rex always had hope that he could give the best home to the family, and Jeanette always had hope that she could eventually give herself a better life away from her parents in New York.


The story starts out when Jeanette is three years old cooking hot dogs by herself and burns herself badly. She is rushed to the hospital and even though she is suppose to stay there her dad, who calls her "mountain  goat", carries her out as they do what he calls the "skedaddle". The family is very poor and rarely has  money for food, but when Jeanette is a bit older they live in a hotel which catches on fire. They then move out to the desert, which is Rex's favorite place. Rose Mary, Jeanette mother, has her fourth child and names her Maureen. Soon, the family moves California and the kids finally get to go to school but the kids are smart compared to the other students and they get bullied. Rex again loses his job and so they have to move again. This time they live in an old train station. When Rose Mary's mother dies the family goes to live in her house, where the kids also go to school. However, the people who live around them are creepy and the house gets infested. They then go to live with Rex's family. Jeanette's parents drive back to Phoenix, and the kids get into a fight with their grandmother. When their parents come back, they all move into a house of their own. The house is horribly torn down, with no running water and ceilings that drip every time it rains. Once Lori graduates she moves out to New York, and once Jeanette has one more year in high school she also moves out to New York. Jeanette knows its the only way she will have a decent life. Eventually, the whole family lives in New York. At some point, they live with each child. But, as they are burdens to their children they live outside, being homeless. Years later, living in a building with others who also used to be homeless, Jeanette's dad becomes sick and later dies. After Rex's death, the siblings don't see their mother very often and quickly the family drifted apart.


Jeanatte Walls: Jeanette is the narrator of the story. She is the middle child of four children of Rose Mary and Rex. What motivates Jeanette is going to New York to start her new life with her sister. Her baggage is that she forgives everyone even if they don't deserve to be forgiven. The significance of Jeanette is she tries to constantly give the family hope.

Rose Mary Walls: She is the mother of Jeanette Walls, and 3 other children. What motivates Rose Mary is her art work and novels. Her baggage is that she is self-interested. She would rather spend all the families money on art supplies rather than necessities for the kids, making  the significance of this character that she helps lead the family to a scarcity of money.

Rex Walls: He is the father of Jeanette Walls, and 3 other children. What motivates him is his inventions. His baggage though, is that he has a drinking problem. The significance of him is he is the one who forces the family to move around constantly due to always losing every job he gets, and just like his wife, spending all the money the family gets on alcohol, causing them to live on barely any money at all.


In Las Vegas, the family lives in a hotel. But, Rex cheats while playing Black Jack many times and overnight the family has to do the "Skedaddle".

Here, the family also lives in a hotel. Jeanette plays with matches in the bathroom, and a few days later the hotel burns down. They then live in their car.

The family lives in the middle of the desert and Jeanette and Rex search for demons under the beds.

The Walls family lives in an apartment here. The kids finally get to go to school. Jeanette is seen as the teachers pet and gets beaten up because of it.

Here they live in an old depot station. Rex stops drinking as heavily, and all the families around them also live in low-income.

They move into Rose Mary's mother's house once she dies. The kids go to school here too, and Rex gets a decent job. Since they are getting more money than usual their father gets them bicycles. However, the house becomes infested.

They now live with Rex's family. Rex and Rose Mary drive back to Phoenix to get their belongings and while they are gone Erma, the kids grandmother, tries to molest Brian. This causes the kids to fight with Erma, and she kicks them out of the house. When the kids parents get back to Welch they buy their own house. The house though, is worn down and in bad shape.

Eventually all the kids Lori, Jeanette, Brian, and Maureen all move to New York. Though they all move down at separate times. They all get their own place, and have better lives than they ever have. Their parents move down, become homeless, and are okay with it. Years later, Rex becomes sick and dies. All the siblings get married and have kids.  

Important Quotes

"If you don't want to sink, you better figure out how to swim" -Rex walls

What makes this quote important is that it shows the way the Walls parents raise there kids. They don't "baby" their kids and their parents won't be there to do things for them. They teach them that nothing will just be handed to them.

"You should never hate anyone, even your worst enemies. Everyone has something good about them. You have to find the redeeming quality and love the person for that" -Jeanette Walls

This quote shows exactly the kind of person Jeanette is. Jeanette displays throughout the book that she tries to find the good in everyone, and no matter how bad someone is the good always out weighs the bad.

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