Literature / The Glass Castle
The Glass Castle
is a 2005 memoir written by Jeannette Walls detailing her childhood being raised by her dysfunctional parents, Rex and Rose Mary alongside her siblings, Lori, Brian, and Maureen. The Walls Family lives in perpetual poverty due to Rex's alcoholism and Rose's refusal to get a job, with the children often practically caring for one another.
It was announced in 2013 that Paramount
had bought film rights to the book, which would be actress Jennifer Lawrence
's first producing endeavor in addition to her signing up to play Jeannette Walls. Claire Danes
and Mark Ruffalo
also have been cast as Rose Mary and Rex Walls respectively.
The Glass Castle contains examples of:
- Adult Fear: This book should be called Adult Fear: The Novel.
- Affectionate Nickname: Rex nicknames Jeanette "Mountain Goat."
- All Men Are Rapists: At least seven males had sexually molested Jeannette. All of them older than her.
- All of the Other Reindeer: Lori and Jeanette don't have many friends for being poor, smelly, skinny, and all-around more intelligent than the other children.
- Abusive Parents: While both parents for the most part avoided physically harming their children out of anger at their full capacities, Rex caused quite a bit commotion every time he came home drunk and destroyed the house. Rose Mary also found herself in slumps every now and then in Welch, which occasionally constituted to her throwing things at her children. Also their methods of parenting go beyond being extremely questionable, and as stated above, the children ended up taking care of themselves throughout their childhood far more than their parents did.
- It's implied that Rex's mom was sexually abusive towards him as a kid.
- The Alcoholic: Rex becomes this supposedly after the death of his infant daughter Mary. The effects of his alcoholism prove disastrous for his family.
- The Alleged Car: Because of their limited cash, the Walls family often winds up buying cars that break down soon after. One is a car called the 'Piggy Bank Special' that Rose Mary finds through a radio show. She isn't allowed to test drive before going home. So the family ends up driving from Phoenix to West Virginia in a car that breaks down repeatedly on the way, has a hood that keeps popping up and has one of the windows stuck open.
- Ambiguous Disorder: Jeanette's mom, Rose Mary. She probably has some sort of Bipolar Disorder going on because on some weeks she's very jovial and giddy, but by the next week she won't even get out of bed while sobbing hysterically. Then, once again, her depression then turns into happiness and vice versa. She also shows plenty of signs of being The Sociopath.
- Attempted Rape: Billy, Jeannette's self-proclaimed boyfriend, attempts this on her. She's nine at the time.
- Big Applesauce: One by one, each kid moves to New York City upon reaching senior year (except Maureen, who moved out at age twelve). Then once after three years there, their parents move in, also.
- Big, Screwed-Up Family
- Black Best Friend: Dinitia becomes the closest thing to a friend that Jeannette gets, inviting her to a day at the pool that Jeanette later calls the most fun she had in Welch. Due to the area's heavily racist environment though, their friendship doesn't last long, and Dinitia ends up heading down a bad path that fortunately Jeanette did not end up getting very prominently featured in.
- Blind Without 'Em: Lori and Rose Mary, although the former doesn't realize this until much later in life and the latter refuses to wear them anyways.
- Braces of Orthodontic Overkill: After finding out about how expensive braces are, Jeanette makes her own homemade braces with rubber bands and coat hangers that she wraps around her head when she goes to bed.
- Broken Ace: Jeanette, Lori, and Rex.
- Brother-Sister Team: Jeanette and Brian are always protecting each other and fighting with others together, such as against the bullies and while living in New York.
- Break the Cutie: Maureen after finishing high school in New York City,
- Cool Big Sis: Brian sees this in his older sisters. Especially Jeanette.
- Creepy Uncle: Uncle Stanley is one; after he attempts to molest her, Jeannette refuses to continue going to his house to bathe, even though she has no other access to running water.
- Daddy's Girl: Played straight with Jeanette and Rex in the beginning, but then Deconstructed once she got older. Rex began using her love to his advantage by manipulating her into giving him money to buy beer and cigarettes because he knows that she won't say "no" to her father.
- Deadpan Snarker: Lori eventually adapts this attitude. Her mother refers to it as a "sarcastic streak".
- Brian does it under his breath, as well. Usually towards his dad.
- Don't Split Us Up: Jeanette fears this when she is approached by a government official asking to see one of her parents. She's more afraid of the government taking her and her siblings away and splitting them up into different families than she is of missing her abusive parents.
- Dysfunctional Family
- Dysfunction Junction: Even characters outside the main family seem a little messed up.
- Everyone Loves Blondes: Maureen has an easy time making friends and attracting men than her sisters do since she is a natural blond with blue eyes.
- Eyebrows Burned Off: Happens to Jeannette at the beginning when she catches on fire while trying to cook hot dogs; this is not, however, played for laughs, as she also ends up with severe burn injuries that require skin grafts.
- Her sister, Lori, gets both her eyebrows and bangs seared off in a small explosion while trying to work with fire.
- Freak Out: Maureen attacks her mother with a knife when her mother tries to kick her out. Her mom explains to Jeanette that the reason she did that was because all Maureen ever wanted was to be loved.
- Freudian Excuse: Rex became The Alcoholic after losing his third daughter when she was a baby and suffering years of sexual abuse by his mother as a kid.
- His mother, Erma, herself has one: she was constantly ordered around by her relatives after becoming an orphan.
- Going Cold Turkey: Rex does this when Jeannette asks him to stop drinking as a birthday present to her. He goes as far as to tie himself to his bed and spends several days screaming and hallucinating. He does stop drinking for awhile, but before long he's hooked once again.
- Hands-Off Parenting: Rex and Rose Mary practice this.
- Parental Neglect: The kids end up taking care of themselves more than their parents do. A noteworthy example of this trope comes to mind in Welch when Jeanette is approached by a government official asking to see one of her parents, neither of which are home.
- Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Ginnie Sue Pastor. She is the town whore in Welch and teaches Jeannette a great deal in one visit to her home about the realities of life and what you are willing to do to put food on the table.
- Imaginary Friend: Maureen had a couple of these during her younger years when she had no friends around her age to play with.
- Jerkass: Quite a few come to mind, such as the women in Welch who make it known to a few members of the Walls family that they spray the areas where they were with Lysol. Erma also falls into this category, though she has a complicated story.
- Little Brother Instinct: Brian will do whatever he can to protect his sisters. He even grows up to be a protector by becoming a police officer.
- Lower-Class Lout
- Manipulative Bastard: Rex manipulates his family to provide him with money to buy more beer and cigarettes.
- Misery Lit: Unusual, in that she never describes her childhood as miserable or even damaging, refuses to vilify her parents, and is really more a memoir of total dysfunction than abuse. A notch above most?
- Moral Myopia: Rex talks about preserving life and how nature must be respected. Yet at one point, he dangles his wife over a window.
- Over Protective Dad: Zig-zagged with Rex. One moment he'd be willing to kick ass for his children if he thought they were in any trouble, while other times he doesn't even give a shit that his daughter may get raped in the next room by three men.
- The Pollyanna: Played for drama with Rose Mary.
- Promotion to Parent: Since their parents are usually stuck in their own problems, Jeanette and Lori are the ones who act as the parents of the house once they get older.
- Pyromaniac: Jeannette becomes obsessed with fire after her previously mentioned encounter, setting various things on fire, even her favorite toy, although she immediately regrets this, and she eventually grows out of it.
- Racist Grandma: Erma Walls almost never goes outside because she's afraid of meeting eye-to-eye with "those niggers down the street."
- Second Love: Jeanette divorces her first husband, Eric, because she thought he wasn't the right man for her. Later on she meets John, who shares plenty of the same interests and life experiences as she does.
- Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Jeanette is worried that she'll marry a reckless guy like her father. Therefore, she only shows interest in nice, normal guys.
- The Sociopath: Rose Mary. Whereas her husband has an excuse for his misgivings, she is just plain selfish, a liar, ignores responsibility and employment, is easily jealous of her children's accomplishments, and only finds excitement in her painting.
- Starving Artist: Rose Mary can't seem to sell her paintings and ends up using whatever money she has on expensive art supplies. Averted by her daughter, Lori, after she moved to New York City.
- Sweet Tooth: Rose Mary confesses that she has this to her starving kids after secretly saving and eating giant chocolate bars for herself.
- Teen Pregnancy: Jeanette's temporary Black Best Friend, Dinitia, gets pregnant.
- Child by Rape: It's implied that Dinitia's mother's new boyfriend sexually molests her.
- They Wasted a Perfectly Good Sandwich: Jeanette doesn't get why kids in her school toss out all their perfectly good food which she would retrieve for herself to eat when girls threw their food away in the girl's bathroom.
- Woman Child: Rose Mary. Jeanette mentions how much her mother cries like a five-year-old and how she doesn't act the way a mother should.