Book The Glass Castle

  1. 1

    Discuss the role of fire in the novel.

    After Jeannette is burned the first time fire continues to appear in the work. It burns down a number of houses and harms some of the characters. Jeannette believes that the fires might all be connected. Jeannette describes fire as a sort of character itself.

  2. 2

    How does Jeannette characterize her parents? What is her tone towards them and their actions?

    Jeannette describes her parents' faults and shortcomings but she does not condemn them for their actions. Indeed, by the novel’s end she appears to have come to an understanding about their way of living. The goal of the work is not to insult or vilify her parents but, in a way, to honor them.

  3. 3

    Why does Jeannette choose to title the book The Glass Castle even though the structure is never built?

    The glass castle characterizes Rex Walls’ need to create a life of fantasy and adventure for his family in the absence of stability and practicality. Its construction is consistently delayed in the work, but that which it represents endures. Jeannette’s memoir is, in part, an erection of this fabled structure. In writing, she takes one step towards fulfilling her father’s promise.

  4. 4

    Explain the role of nature and the attitudes taken toward it in the memoir?

    Without the amenities of modern life, the Walls family is frequently in awe of the beauty of nature. Especially while living in the Midwest, nature becomes a sort of home for the Walls. Rose Mary Walls also instills within her children an appreciation for animals and nature by refusing to kill or harm it with modern technology.

  5. 5

    What about Jeannette’s experience is atypical of general ideas about American poverty? Why do you think Jeannette includes these examples?

    For much of the work, Jeannette and her family live in conditions characteristic of poverty. However, Jeannette’s experience also includes rigorous homeschooling from her parents and exposure to classic literature. Despite her conditions, she and her siblings are often placed in the gifted classes in school. In showing that her parents, though poor, were not unintelligent, Jeannette proposes an often undetailed view of America’s impoverished.

  6. 6

    Discuss the role of setting in the novel? How does the theme of the work change when the setting changes?

    Setting is clearly an important part of the work. Indeed, two sections of the novel are named after a particular environment. In addition, there is a clear shift in tone and plot when the Walls move from the desert to Welch, Virginia. Setting not only affects how the family must live but it also influences their hope for escaping poverty.

  7. 7

    Compare Jeannette’s relationship with Brian and Lori to that between her and Maureen. Why are there differences?

    Jeannette and her siblings depend on each other for survival. Jeannette and Brian pair together when faced by bullies from outside. Although Lori and Brian differ from Jeannette in their early loss of hope in Rex. Maureen exists as a sort of “black sheep” in the family. Not only does she not have red hair, but she seldom spends time with the family and instead relies on others to care for her. For this reason, Jeannette considers Maureen in need of more protection than the rest of her siblings.

  8. 8

    Describe the structure of the memoir. Why does Walls decide to frame her story with her adulthood before reflecting on her childhood?

    Jeannette begins her story by describing her motivation for writing it. Her mother’s urgings that she not hide from her past anymore prompt Jeannette to begin telling her story. Because shame once inhibited her from sharing her story, she begins by describing that which gave her the courage to write it down.

  9. 9

    Discuss Rose Mary Walls' role as a mother.

    Rose Mary Walls commonly seems focused on her aims alone. She loses or quits jobs in order to pursue her profitless career as an artist even at times when her family needs her salary for basic necessities. At times, Rose Mary behaves more like a child than her children, throwing tantrums, refusing to go to work, and creating excuses.

  10. 10

    Rex Walls frequently makes up fantastical stories to create a life of excitement out of his circumstances. Is this deceitful? In what ways can these stories be seen as an attempt to shield the family from the truth?

    Rex Walls tends to create fantastical explanations to keep his children from considering themselves lesser than others because of their lack of money. When the children are young, this seems harmless. He gives them stars for Christmas instead of gifts and makes life an adventure by telling them they are being chased. However, as the children grow older, Rex’s stories are used as a means to protect or excuse his behavior instead of as a means to shield his children from the reality of their condition.


Jeannette Walls begins her memoir with a scene from adulthood. While in a cab in New York City, Jeannette looks out the window and sees her mother dumpster diving. She ducks down in her seat to avoid being recognized, but later invites her mother to lunch to talk about how she can help. Mom insists that she and Dad like being homeless and admonishes Jeannette for being ashamed of her own family. From here, Jeannette’s narration goes back in time to her very first memory. At three years old, Jeannette lives in a trailer park with Mom, Dad, her older sister Lori, and her little brother Brian. Jeannette’s tutu catches fire while she cooks hot dogs over a stove, and her mother rushes her to the hospital for an emergency skin graft. After six weeks in the hospital, Dad smuggles her out without paying the bill. Back at home, Jeannette goes back to cooking unsupervised and starts playing with matches.

One night, Dad makes the family pack all their belongings into the family car and move towns in the middle of the night, a routine he calls “doing the skedaddle.” Over the next several years, the Wallses do the skedaddle dozens of times, moving all over to stay ahead of debt collectors and law enforcement. They spend a month or two in larger cities like Las Vegas and San Francisco, where Dad can make quick money by gambling. Most of the time, however, the Wallses live in isolated desert mining towns, where Mom and Dad teach their children reading and math, as well as specialized survival skills. Dad drinks often and struggles to keep a job for long, but he promises his family that their nomadic lifestyle is temporary. He promises to find gold and build his family the Glass Castle, a large, self-sustaining home made out of glass.

When Jeannette is in first grade, Mom gives birth to another baby, Maureen. Dad moves the family to Battle Mountain, Nevada, where he works as an electrician. The family enjoys six months of relative stability until Dad loses his job. After an explosive argument, Mom gets a teaching job. Dad confiscates most of her paycheck, and the family continues to go hungry. Their time in Nevada comes to an end when Billy Deel, a delinquent neighbor boy whose advances Jeannette rejected, comes to the Walls residence and opens fire with his BB gun. Jeannette returns fire with Dad’s pistol. She misses him on purpose, but the police get involved. The family flees to Phoenix. On the way to Phoenix, Jeannette learns that Grandma Smith has passed, leaving Mom a large sum of money and a house. They move into the massive house, and Dad gets a job as an electrician. For about a year, the kids enjoy regular meals, their own bicycles, and public schooling. Unfortunately, Dad loses his job, and his alcoholism reaches crushing lows. The family is once again destitute. Mom decides it’s time to move to Dad’s hometown of Welch, West Virginia.

Tara glass castle = broken promises Her father was constantly saying, 'Have I ever let you down?' The glass Castle was the grandiose of promises the father made. From the start of the book to the end of the book Jeannettes vision and hope for the glass castle changed. A list of all the characters in The Glass Castle. Characters include:Jeannette Walls,Dad (Rex Walls),Mom (Rose Mary Walls),Lori Walls,Brian Walls and more.

Book The Glass Castle

When the Wallses arrive in Welch, they stay with Jeannette’s paternal grandmother, Erma. Erma is a bitter, unwelcoming host, and most people in Welch regard the Wallses as self-important outsiders. When Mom and Dad leave for an extended road trip to Phoenix, Erma molests Brian. Jeannette and Lori confront her, but Erma retaliates violently. Dad takes Erma’s side when he returns, but Erma evicts the family. The Wallses buy a small, rotting house with no running water or indoor plumbing. Dad admits that the conditions are not ideal, but promises to use the land to begin construction on the Glass Castle. To help Dad get started on the Glass Castle, Brian and Jeannette dig a large hole for the foundation, but the family soon fills it with garbage. To survive, the kids start dumpster diving and stealing food from their classmates and neighbors. Desperate, Jeannette begs Mom to divorce Dad so they can go on welfare, but Mom refuses.


When the Wallses get a visit from child protective services, Mom finds a teaching job. The money could solve their problems, but Dad’s extensive drinking once again drains their funds, and the family continues to go hungry. The following summer, Mom goes to Charleston for several weeks to renew her teaching license. Left in control of the family finances, Jeannette finds that she, too, gives into Dad’s demands for more money. When Mom returns from Charleston, she announces that she will quit her job and devote all her time to art. Jeannette finally confronts Mom and Dad about their selfishness, but Dad whips her in retaliation. Appalled, Jeannette and Lori plan to move to New York City as soon as possible. Jeannette, Lori, and Brian find jobs around Welch and save all their money for almost a year, but Dad steals the money just months before Lori’s planned departure. In the end, Jeannette secures Lori a summer babysitting job that includes a bus ticket to New York City as payment.

The Glass Castle Audiobook

Lori loves life in New York City, where she works in a restaurant and lives in a women’s hostel. Jeannette moves to the city a year later and finishes high school there, interning at a Brooklyn newspaper for credit. Brian follows a year later. Jeannette starts college at Barnard, putting herself through with grants, loans, and savings from odd jobs. Maureen moves in with Lori at age twelve. Dad accuses Lori of stealing his children, and he and Mom move to New York City three years later. After being kicked out of several apartments, Mom and Dad first live on the streets, and then become squatters. At this point, Jeannette has married and works at a prestigious magazine. Lori is an artist, and Brian is a police officer. Maureen drops out of college and moves in with Mom and Dad. Maureen tries to stab Mom, and must spend a year in a psychiatric hospital. The family drifts apart, and a year later Dad dies of a heart attack. Five years after Dad’s death, Jeannette and her second husband, John, host the family for Thanksgiving, though without Maureen. They toast to Dad’s life.