The Glass Castle, by Jeanette Walls


Group Members:

Carly Westerfield
Katie O'Donnell
Emily Mitchell
Stefanie Hall
Caitlin Ruthman

Discussion Location: Ms. Ruthman's room 503

Jeannette Walls - narrator (involved)
Rose Mary Walls (mother)
Rex Walls (father)
Brian Walls
Lori Walls
Maureen Walls
Juju (dog)
Billy Deel

Jeannette vs. Rex
Children vs. Parents
Parent vs. Parent
Family vs. Society

Key Questions:
What are some major ideas/themes throughout the novel?
Besides the idea of the "glass castle", poverty is also another major occurrence in the novel. Obviously the Walls family is very poverty struck, but at the same time it is a way of life both parents prefer to live. They like living on the edge and constantly moving, this is very hard when there are four kids to look out for. The kids are then taught to "fend for themselves" and understand what it's like to live when you have nothing.
What is the significance of the glass castle to the kids?
The "Glass Castle" is the dreams of the kids. The kids hope that someday they will live in this magical place that their father has built for them. I believe the parents play up the glass castle and bring it up whenever the going gets rough or whenever they have to move again. "When Dad wasn't telling us about all the amazing things he had already done, he was telling us about the wondrous things he was going to do. Like build the Glass Castle. All of Dad's engineering skills and mathematical genius were coming together in one special project: A great big house he was going to build for us in the desert" (25). This is the first time we hear about the glass castle and it seems to be brought up throughout the entire novel. It also seems as if it is the kids goal in life to reach the good life, and not have to worry about food, money and shelter.
How does living on the edge as a kid effect the Walls children when they grow up?
I think it teaches them to live a little more fearlessly. They all move to New York at young ages without jobs and some without even just a high school education. That is a REALLY hard thing to do. It's hard to move to New York without a plan but going not knowing what to expect is so unbelievable.
Why won't the Walls just live with Rose Mary's mother?
How do the parents believe their kids will turn out?
In the beginning of the book why is Jeanette Walls so embarrassed about seeing her mother?
You're going to a high-society party on the upper west side of New York City and as you drive by in your chauffeured car you see your mother, rummaging through the garbage that you produced, just to find some scraps to eat. You'd be embarrassed too.
Why won't Rex and Rose Mary take any money?
Why would they? To them, they aren't living abnormally. They have less than other people but they're surviving.
What do some major character symbolize, such as Juju and Billy Deel?

Significant Passages: