The Glass Castle

Book Review and Summary


Forgiveness: A theme of The Glass Castle is forgiveness. Throughout the book the kids constantly have to forgive their parents. Jeannette forgives her father after he broke his promise to stop drinking as her birthday wish. Mom forgives Maureen for stabbing her. Lori constantly forgave both her parents. and when they moved to New York she let them come live with her.

Fearlessness: Another theme of The Glass Castle is fearlessness, the Walls family was always fearless whenever Dad did a "skedaddle" they never questioned they always jumped in the car and trusted him that he would not lead them wrong. And when Jeannette got jumped in the alley, Brian did not back down and went and fought back to defend her.


The introduction of this book is starting off starts off when the narrator is talking about her seeing her mother, who is homeless, in the street and was embarrassed of her. The rising action is when everyone finds out that the dad was a drunk and we read that the things that were happening were because of him. The climax is when they were in Phoenix at the house Grandma Smith left them, and they are celebrating Jeannette's birthday and Dad asks what Jeannette wants for her birthday and she tells him that she wanted him to stop drinking. The falling action is when Dad is withdrawing from the lack of the alcohol. And the resolution is when Jeannette realizes that Dad will not stop drinking but, that is a part of him.  

Character Description

Jeannette is the narrator, she is also the second born child in the Walls family. Jeannette was motivated by the need to succeed in life. Instead of staying with her parents in Welch, she moved to New York with Lori to pursue a career in writing. She carries the baggage of her whole family, she had a lot of stuff going for her but she always made sure her family came first. She was always trying to keep the fact her mother and father wanted to be homeless, a secret. The thing that is most important about Jeannette was her courage to continue to stay strong after everything that has happened to her and other family members, and to be the rock for them.

Dad is the father of the four children in the book. His name is Rex Walls and he makes himself out to be a superhero to his children throughout the whole book. He is also very selfish, he takes money from the family multiple times. His dreams to find gold and also to build The Glass Castle motivate him to hopefully one day become rich to give his children everything. Dad brings the baggage of his addiction to alcohol into the family. Most of the things the family endures is because of this. The significance this character brings is that all of the family trusts and believes in him, even after all the pain he brings them they always look for him to be there.

Mom is the mother of the four children in the book. She is an artist and always puts her needs to become an artist above the needs of the children. She is so motivated to become an artist, she stops at nothing to try to accomplish her dreams. The most important thing about Mom is that she is so selfish sometimes, from sneaking food to buying art supplies when the kids could have got things, or she could have saved up for their life. But one thing she is good about is when everyone wants to go their separate ways, she always finds a way to bring them back together. Especially after everyone moved to New York they always came together for dinner.

The main settings

Here they live in an old, run down train depot. Jeannette gets raped by Billy Deel, and then because she would not be his girlfriend he came to their house and started shooting a BB gun at them. Lori, Brian, and Jeannette were forced to fire back, but their gun was their dads pistol.

The family move to Phoenix, AZ because Grandma Smith left them a house here after she died. Here Dad finally had money to get the kids a real gift, he got them all bikes. This is the location where Dad tells Jeannette he will get sober, and goes through the withdraws, but the kids do not know why he is acting the way he is. Also this was the first year the kids would be able to celebrate Christmas, but during one of Dads fits he burnt down the Christmas tree along with all the gifts.

Here in Blythe, Nevada, they live at the LBJ apartments. Jeannette gets jumped by four girls, so in her defense Brian comes to try to scare the girls off but fails and they both get beat up. This is also the place where Mom gives birth to Maureen.

In San Francisco, CA, dad has no money to buy the children Christmas gifts, so he takes them out to the desert and tells them to pick a star that would be theirs. Jeannette got Venus.

An important thing that happens in Welch, WV, the place where Dad is from is that Erma (Rex's mom) tries to force herself onto Brian. Mom and Dad are not there because they are in Phoenix checking on the house they left and also to get more things. When they come back they find out what happened, but Dad was not mad at Erma but was mad at the children. Jeannette starts to think that Erma did things to Dad when he was growing up.

This setting is New York, the last place the book takes place. An important factor that happened here was that Rex calls Jeannette over to his and the moms house to tell her bad news. The news was that he was dying. Two weeks later he dies of a heart attack after spending his last days on machines in the hospital. Also before dad dies, Maureen stabs Mom and has to spend time in a mental hospital, but when she gets out she takes off and leaves to live in California.

Important Quotes

'What do you know about the hardships and obstacles that the underclass face?' The other students were staring at me. 'You have a point,' I said." -Jeannette and her professor

This is important because when Jeannette could have claimed her parents, although they were homeless she did not. She was in fear of what the other kids would think. She did not want them to know that her parents were not as well of as theirs. She was ashamed of them. This is significant because throughout the book she always talked about how she was embarrassed that they were not as fortunate as others, and now especially she didn't want anyone to know.

“In my mind, Dad was perfect, although he did have what Mom called a bit of a drinking situation." -Jeannette, page 23.

This quote is extremely important in the book because this is leading into the personality of Dad. It is going to start explaining why Dad acted the way he did. This is showing how even though Dad did things bad to Jeannette she forgave him every time. And that no matter what, Jeannette always had Dads back, and would love him no matter what. And although Dad had his flaws, he meant a lot to her. This quote leads into the relationship the two would have throughout the novel.

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