Free Study Guide for The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls|
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THE GLASS CASTLE NOTES BY JEANETTE WALLS
In exploring her father and her mother’s background together, Jeannette
reveals for us one of the reasons why Rex Walls may have become the eccentric
individual he was: the death of his little girl, Mary Charlene. This may
also have been a reason why her mother was so blasé about raising
children. Perhaps she was too hurt by the loss of this child to allow
herself to cling too much to any of the other three. Or maybe she was
just too self-absorbed.
This chapter opens with the kids sitting in a new car called the Green Caboose, because the Blue Goose had died. Mom and Dad have gone into a bar for “a little nip” and left the kids there alone. The girls are talking about whether they like moving around so much. Jeannette says she does and Lori says she does, too, but the reader is left with the impression that maybe she doesn’t enjoy it all that much. They count eleven places where they have lived, places where they unpacked all their things, before they lose track. They can’t remember the names of most of the towns or they what the houses looked like. Mostly Jeannette remembers the insides of cars. Jeannette wonders what would happen if they didn’t move around a lot to which Lori responds, “We’d get caught.”
Mom and Dad come out of the bar and bring each of the kids a beef jerky and a candy bar. Then they set off again with Dad driving and holding a brown bottle of beer with one hand. He takes a sharp turn, the door flies open, and Jeannette falls out of the car. She rolls along an embankment and comes to stop with the breath knocked out of her. She eventually pulls herself back up the embankment and sits down to wait for the return of her parents. She waits for what seems like such a long time and supposes that it is possible that Mom and Dad won’t come back for her. They might decide that she is like Quixote, the cat: a burden and a bother they can do without. So she gets up and begins walking back to the houses of the little town they had just left. Then, she becomes afraid that they might not find her there and returns to the spot where she fell out of the car.
Jeannette is in the process of scraping dried blood off her leg when
she sees the Green Caboose returning. Dad jumps out, kneels down and tries
to give her a hug. However, Jeannette pulls away, explaining that she
thought they were going to leave her behind. Dad explains that they would
have been there sooner, but Brian was crying so hard trying to tell them
what happened that they didn’t know she was gone. Dad then begins to clean
up her face, telling her, “Damn, honey, you busted your snot locker pretty
good.” Jeannette has never heard a nose referred to in this way, and she
begins to laugh really hard. She gets back in the car telling everyone
in her family what Dad had said, and they all continue on, laughing together.
The story of Jeannette’s fall from the car is a metaphor of her parents’ benign abuse of their children, while at the same time, it’s an affirmation of their love for them. Concerned parents would have counted noses, would have realized something was wrong when the door of the car flew open, and would have looked in the back seat when Brian was crying too hard to talk. However, it took them just a little too long to realize Jeannette was gone. On the other side of the analysis of their behavior, the very fact that they eventually sped back to find her, the way Dad reassures Jeannette that they would never have left her behind, and the way they all laugh together over Dad’s silly description of a nose reaffirms that in spite of their inability to provide their children with more stability, they love them very much.
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Clapsaddle, Diane. "TheBestNotes on The Glass Castle".
. 09 May 2017