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Free Book Review for The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls

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Jeannette opens this section by pointing out that many of the people in their neighborhood are weird. One example is the Gypsy family that steals Brian’s pogo stick and won’t give it back. Mom retaliates by pretending to cast a curse on them, and the next morning, the pogo stick is lying on the front yard. There is also their share of perverts to deal with. This group consists of the stereotypical shabby, hunched-over men with whiny voices who follow the kids to school and home. Add to that, Mom and Dad leave the doors and windows open to allow the air to circulate, so sometimes in the morning, they find vagrants sleeping in their living room. The parents insist that these men are just harmless drunks, but Maureen, who fears the bogeyman, dreams that intruders in Halloween masks are coming through the open doors to get them, and one night, Jeannette awakens with someone running his hand over her private parts. She starts screaming, “Pervert,” which awakens Brian who comes running with the hatchet he keeps by his bed. Mom is difficult to awaken once asleep, and Dad is away, so Jeannette and Brian decide to go Pervert Hunting. Unfortunately, they don’t find the guy who had invaded Jeannette’s bed. When Dad comes home, he’s serious about killing the pervert, so the hunt becomes extreme. They never do find him, but that’s not enough to make Mom and Dad agree to close the windows and doors at night. They believe that the kids need the fresh air and they mustn’t give in to their fear. So Maureen continues to have nightmares and Jeannette and Brian, every so often, go Pervert Hunting and clear the neighborhood of the creeps.

Rose Mary and Rex also believe the kids should never give in to narrow-minded stick-in-the-muds. Once Mom encourages the kids to jump into a public fountain - against the law - to cool off, and when people tell her it’s illegal, she tells them, “Mind your own beeswax!” She is never bothered by people who turn and stare at her, even in church. She is a devout Catholic, but she considers the Ten Commandments more like the Ten Suggestions. She never dresses up for Mass and often sings so loudly that she disturbs other parishioners. Even though she is a problem in church, Dad is worse. He disagrees violently with what the priest says and will fume and shift around in his seat during the homily, and then when he can’t stand it any longer, he’ll call out to the priest and begin to argue. Eventually, the ushers have to ask them to leave. He always says, “What do you expect from an institution run by celibate men who wear dresses.” Mom’s answer to that is, “Don’t worry, God understands. He knows that your father is a cross we must bear.”


This section reinforces what hypocrites Rex and Rose Mary are in how they view their world, their children, and the people with whom they must associate. Dad is angry enough to kill the pervert, but won’t lock the house to keep them out, not even when little Maureen has nightmares, and Jeannette is molested. They are devout Catholics, but they never follow the commandments and are often thrown out of Mass. They label their neighbors as weird, but there is no weirder family than the Walls family!



Finally, city life begins to get to Dad once more. He misses the wilderness, so once they hear on the radio that a woman had been surprised by a mountain lion on her property, Dad decides to take the kids somewhere they can learn that the lion has rights, too. He wants them to know as well that no animal is dangerous if you know how to handle it. So, he takes them to the zoo. Mom says the animals there have turned in freedom for security, so she has to pretend she doesn’t see the bars when she looks at them. The sight of them makes Jeannette’s throat swell up with sadness.

First, Dad has a staring contest with a bull alligator, and it actually seems like the alligator blinks first. The lone cheetah in the zoo paces back and forth and is reminiscent of Dad caged in the city. Then, Dad goes over to the bars of the cheetah’s cage and sits down instead of staying behind the barrier. First, he puts his hand on the bars and then slowly puts it between the bars and rests it on the cheetah’s neck. Then, he gives the animal a hardy, vigorous petting like you’d give a big dog. Then, he guides Jeannette’s hand to the cheetah’s neck, and he turns and licks her hand. One woman watching all this then screams that Dad should be arrested, so Dad says the civilians are revolting, and they have to leave. The security guard escorts them out while Jeannette can hear people talking about the drunken man and his dirty urchin children. She thinks, “Who cares what they think? None of them had ever had their hand licked by a cheetah.”


The reader cannot help but be struck once again at the contrasts Rex and Rose Mary present. They take the chance of their children being attacked by a cheetah, but they give them the wondrous experience of having this wild animal lick their hand.


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The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls Free Book Review

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Clapsaddle, Diane. "TheBestNotes on The Glass Castle". . 09 May 2017