- Moral Event Horizon: Rex breaking into his children's New York fund for drinking money, after they saved and scraped for months doing menial work such as lawn-mowing, shovelling driveways, babysitting, and, in Lori's case, selling her art pieces.
- In the book, Rex whipping teenage Jeanette with his belt after she finally gets fed up with his and Rose Mary's irresponsible behaviour and furiously calls them out on it.
- The Scrappy: Whereas Rex (occasionally) goes out of his way to show the children he cares for them, Rose Mary is emotionally torturous, and selfish to an insane degree, refusing to work and provide for her children even though she has a good teacher's degree (during a time period where there were a lot of teaching positions available). And while Rex has a Freudian Excuse, Rose Mary doesn't and could have divorced Rex at anytime and gotten welfare for her and her kids. She choose her life and art instead. It's made worse after it's revealed that she's been sitting on a fortune she inherited from her family, but refuses to sell their oil wells, keeping their family in poverty out of sheer, stupid stubbornness. It's hard to find a reader of the book who isn't completely and utterly disgusted with her.
- Rose Mary kind of sort of has a Freudian Excuse. If you read Half Broke Horses, the author's novel about the life of her grandmother Lily Casey Smith, you find out that Lily was a very strict, no-nonsense mother who did everything she could to whip her two children into tough-skinned, upstanding, hard-working citizens. And, when Rose Mary was thirteen, Lily literally whipped her with her belt, for being caught swimming naked with older boys. She also thought very little of Rose Mary's artistic inclinations and made her get a teaching degree. Rose Mary's behavior as an adult can basically be interpreted as one long, endless teenage rebellion against her mother and rules/responsibility/authority in general. But there is no excuse whatsoever for letting her children starve, especially when she had every possible means to take care of them.
YMMV / The Glass Castle