The Glass Castle

by: Jeannette Walls



Throughout the book, Jeannette and the Walls family experienced extreme hardship and struggle everywhere they went. They endured constant hunger while usually being the poorest family in the town. However, the Walls family always saw the best out of every situation and continued to have hope that life will get better. Hopes of moms art career taking off, food provided for everyone, and the building of the glass castle.


In the middle of the book the Walls children started to see the faults in their lives as well as their parents. Their parents could not hold a steady job nor provide them and their kids food for the night. Brian, Lori, and Jeannette stuck together through the whole book. They protected each other and found food on their own. With each of the kids faithfulness towards each other they were able to make it out of poverty and despair and live peaceful live once their father has passed.



During the beginning of the book the Walls family lives in numerous towns preforming the "skedaddle". Rex frequently loses his jobs and cannot provide food for the family due to his inability to stay sober. Lori, Brian, Jeannette, and Maureen learn to provide for themselves since their parents cannot. The family experienced good and peaceful times. However, those moments were constantly followed by tragic ones including hunger, Christmas, and sexual abuse.

Rising action

Lori's departure to New York City was a key event in The Glass Castle. Lori finds a job waiting tables while Jeannette is writing for the school newspaper in High School. Shortly after Jeannette and Brian move to New York with Lori. They find jobs and are living very easy without the constant depression from their mom and dad. Eventually Mom and Dad move to New York City and become squatters living happily with people quite similar to themselves.


Dad soon becomes very ill and has to stay in the hospital. This is due to his drinking habits he has held for his entire life. During this time Maureen also becomes mentally unstable and the family fights for who is to blame. Maureen loses and stabs mom and moves to California. Dad dies and the family splits up. There is little communication between them after his death.

Falling Action

Following Rex's death the family splits up and go one with their lives. Five years later the family comes together at Jeannette's country home for Thanksgiving.


They all catch up and see the new additions in their lives such as children. They also look back on the times when their dad was around and raise a toast to him in honor of his life.



Jeannette Walls is the second oldest child in the Walls family. She is a free thinker and enjoys the outdoors. She is very smart and was very close to her father as a child. In her Early childhood she was severely burned when making hot dogs by her self. These scars never healed. The scars represent tough childhood she went through moving constantly and dealing with her father alcohol addiction. Of the four children Jeannette was the most successful. She became an elite through her writing career and was very wealthy. Once Rex died Jeannette had an epiphany and divorced her husband and later moved out of New York city to the country.    


Rex Walls was a very smart man knowing much about Math and science. He worked as an electrician and an engineer. Rex could not hold a job for long because he often got in fights with his boss expressing his opinions. Rex spent much of his time trying to build special inventions to make the family rich. Walls is a very stubborn free thinker. Walls lived a tough childhood in Welch and was most likely sexually abused. When he was told of Brian's sexual abuse by his mother Erma he acted very weird and tried to play it off. He is an avid drinker who usually binges for a few days when there is conflict. However is drinking problem he can bring great smiles to the family but always bring despair in the end.


Mom's full name is Rose Mary Walls. She is a free, independent, and optimistic individual. Rose Mary believes that life is what you make of it. Art is her passion. She spends much of her time either sketching or painting things around her. She can also be somewhat stingy. She resents her children and feels that they are holding back her art career. Rose Mary also hides food for herself not sharing with anyone else.


Here Rex and Rose Mary got into an argument over how long Rose Mary carried her children during pregnancy. Dad was drunk and chased Mom with the car. The two make up the next day a mom cuts dad's hair. Also this is where Brian and Jeannette dance in the lettuce field and get gorged with pesticide.

Here the family lives in a home that is rented. The kids each sleep in cardboard boxes. Rex here spends most of his days drinking in the local bars after he loses his job. Rex even hired a prostitute from the local brothel at one point.

Rose Mary inherited a house from her mother here. The house is fairly large and the kids go to school everyday. On Jeannette's tenth birthday she asks dad to give up his drinking. He goes sober for a few weeks but shortly after returns to his old habits.

Here the walls family lived with Rex's mom Erma. Erma was a cold old lady that is racist and has a drinking obsession like Rex. During their stay here Brian is sexually abused by Erma. Erma is confronted by Lori in Physical and verbal fight. When Rex hears of the knew he begins to act hysterical and shrugs it off.

This is where Lori, Brian, and Jeannette move after living in Welch. They chose to move so they could get away from there Fathers drinking and begin their own lives. Life is good for the children for they have all found jobs. Mom and dad move to new York shortly after and problems surface once again.

Important quotes

“One thing about whoring: It put a chicken on the table.” - Jeannette Walls

-This was spoken by Jeannette following her time at the pastors home. This quote shows that everyone has their faults, yet everyone dose it for a reason.

“Sometimes you have to get sicker before you can get better.” - Jeannette Walls

- This quote was also told from Jeannette Walls. This particular quote tells an important message. This quote shows that all the events that happened to Jeannette have mad her the person she is today. Her childhood despair and struggle made her strong and understanding of life.

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