Free Study Guide for The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls|
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THE GLASS CASTLE PLOT SUMMARY BY JEANETTE WALLS
Mom’s argument makes no sense to Jeannette who wonders if her mother
had been looking forward to eating the margarine herself. So Jeannette
defends herself by declaring that she ate it, because she was hungry!
She tells the reader, “Mom gave me a startled look. I’d broken one
of our unspoken rules: We were always supposed to pretend our life was
one long and incredibly fun adventure.” The comment makes Mom begin to
shake, and she screams at Lori and Jeannette that’s it not her fault that
they’re hungry. Her indignation continues when Dad comes home. She accuses
him of spending his whole day at the Owl Club while he insists he’s out
trying to earn money. He claims he has discovered a cyanide-leaching process
to separate gold from the rock around it, but he needs money to bankroll
his discovery. He wants her to ask her mother for the money, but she refuses.
The argument then becomes more and more heated. He tells her to use her
college degree to get a teaching job if she’s so concerned about money
or else she can “go peddle her ass” at the Green Lantern. The screaming
then becomes so loud that the neighbors start gathering on the street
discussing whether or not they should interfere. Suddenly, an oil painting
and an easel fly through the window, and that’s followed by Mom, who is
dangling from the second floor. Dad grabs her by the arms and tries to
pull her in while kids below begin to imitate her movements by pretending
to be monkeys. When it looks like Dad might not be able to hold her, the
kids run in and grab Dad until he’s able to pull her in. Mom accuses Dad
of trying to kill her, while Dad declares that she jumped. The kids do
their best to comfort their parents while Jeannette says over and over,
“Everything’s okay now.”
This section exemplifies what happens when hunger enters the picture of a family in crisis. The children must learn to beg, borrow or steal, because they have parents who are unconcerned about their hunger. There is also the implication of Mom’s selfishness - she wanted the margarine for herself. Her frustration at the children’s hunger may really be a façade that she didn’t get to eat and they did. This makes the children’s comforting of both parents at the end even more poignant - they offer comfort to the parents who would think nothing of stealing food right out of their mouths.
The argument between Rose Mary and Rex is very dramatic. Ironically, the children are not at all embarrassed, because they’re so used to this behavior.
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Clapsaddle, Diane. "TheBestNotes on The Glass Castle".
. 09 May 2017