The Glass Castle Winter Break Assignment

glass castle

All 11th Grade AP Language students need to post comments here over the break about Jeanette Walls’s memoir, The Glass Castle.

  1. You must post at least one original comment (at least a paragraph in response to the memoir).
  2. You must also comment in response to another student’s post.
  3. Use this as a place to ask questions or ask for clarification about the book.

Keep comments, academic appropriate and book-related. Mr. Nittle reserves the right to delete any off-topic or inappropriate comments.

All comments are due Friday, 1/17/14!

For the writing assignment related to the book, click to download the file: Glass Castle Winter Assignment.

42 thoughts on “The Glass Castle Winter Break Assignment

  1. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls was a very interesting book. I like the way all the Walls kids live in a world of fantasy embolden by their parents. Rex Walls is a very charming man, who always has a way of making up for his mistakes. For example the time he didn’t have enough money to buy each kid a Christmas gift, he let each kid “own” a star. Another example is The Glass Castle being the main excuse for the life they are living. Everything they have to suffer and go through, but at the end it will all make up because they will be living inside a mansion; The Glass Castle. As soon as each kid grows up they begin to see the real picture. They don’t blame their parents, sometimes they do but they ignore it mostly and don’t hold a grudge. They stopped living in a world of fantasy and began being realistic using their parents parenting as an example of what not to be in the future. However I can’t say the same for Maureen.

    • I agree with you Edith. The author Jeannette Walls has her way on making the book interesting and for the readers to keep reading. Also Rex Walls had too much imagination and he has his way in order for the kids to believe and keep living thinking their dad will give them all he has promised. They did realized that the fantasy they were living on will probably not come true.

      • Good points, Edith and Yulissa, particularly about fantasy and imagination in the book. How do you think this text being a “memoir,” written from memory, affects the story? Does the author look back positively, negatively or objectively upon her childhood?

      • I agree with you both, about Rex’s imagination and how it has affected the children. Their imagination was their own tactic of survival. I feel that if I was put in the position as them, even though I may know that it is not a reality, imagination is my only escape and helps me to stay sane. Otherwise, life would be harsh in the deserts and cities I entered. If you were a parent in this situation, how would you be towards your children?

  2. I think that Jeannette’s feelings are objective upon her childhood as she talks about it as if it was “no biggie”, like if these things happen all the time. The only sort of negative feelings Jeannette felt and mentioned was during her childhood. In one occasion while her mother was in bed crying with her face under the blankets having a mental break-down, Jeannette swears to herself that her life will never be like her mother’s she then emphasizes, “I [will] not be crying my eyes out in an unheated shack” (pg 208). Showing a pitiful/ negative feeling towards her mother’s parenting. The negative feelings do briefly extend until her adulthood. On page 273 in the second paragraph, Jeannette writes about the feeling of treachery she felt towards her mother after finding out that her mother owned a land estimated to be worth millions of dollars. Millions of dollars that Jeannette thought, could had been used to solve the family’s financial problems. Overall those were the feelings she felt during that moment not as she was writing the memoir. After all that is what memoirs are all about right? It’s like having a diary as a teenager then coming across it as an adult and then realizing that the feelings you felt at that exact moment weren’t adequate enough. Maybe you might see the situation differently now than when you were a teenager. In my opinion Jeannette Walls is just another writer who decided to tell us about the skeleton hiding in her closet. Sending a message of “there’s more than meets the eye.”

    • Great comment, Edith about the nature of the memoir: “It’s like having a diary as a teenager then coming across it as an adult and then realizing that the feelings you felt at that exact moment weren’t adequate enough. Maybe you might see the situation differently now than when you were a teenager.” Also, nice textual details included.

      Your words remind me of Toni Morrison’s “Beloved,” when she writes: “I used to think to think it was my rememory. You know. Some things you forget. Other things you never do. But it’s not. Places, places are still there. If a house burns down, it’s gone, but the place–the picture of it–stays, and not just in my rememory, but out there, in the world. What I remember is a picture floating around out there outside my head. I mean, even if I don’t think it, even if I die, the picture of what I did, or knew, or saw is still out there. Right in the place where it happened.”

      She has this idea of “rememory,” that there’s a difference between our memory and the evidence of what happened in our past. For example, even if Jeannette’s mother forgot about the land she owned, there was still this deed to property out there somewhere; it remembered, even if her mother refused to.

  3. I think Jeannette Walls was writting her memories as she remembered them. As a child she had no idea that what she living wasnt normal in her mind everything was going to change and one day have all the money they needed. She had a positive feeling towards her parents at least when she was just a kid who had no idea of what was going on around her. As she grew up she started to realize that the life she was living was not normal and she was ashamed of the life she had as a kid. Her negative feeling started growing and even as an adulth she still had them for example, “I slid down in the seat and asked the driver to turn around and take me home to Park Avenue… I was embarrassed by them, too, and ashamed of myself for wearing pearls and living on Park Avenue while my parents were busy keeping warm and finding something to eat” (3-4). She explains that she didnt want to be seen in public with her parents because she was ashamed of the life she had with them as a kid. She also mentions that she is ashamed of herself too for having the life they always dreamed about, but her parents were picking up leftovers in the trash. Later on in the book she also says that her parents didnt want her help because they were okay by living like that. The negative feelings she had when all those memoirs happend could have changed when she was writting the book. At the end they were just good and bad moments she had as a child. All of what happend to her stayed in her past as bad memoirs. After all its how life is. You have good moments and bad moments but at the end when everything is over all you could do is Lough.

    • Interesting points, Yulissa, about how she wasn’t ashamed of her childhood and early life until she later realized that things were not “normal.” And the last point you made about whether good/bad, at the end, we need to laugh, live with it, move on… Not everyone does this, however. People who experience tough circumstances don’t always make it through; those who do and learn to live with their past seem to become stronger for it. Consider the character of Billy Deel, for example. He seemed to have a tough life as well, but responded to the world in such a negative way, unlike the Walls kids. Thanks for the thoughtful response!

      • The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls was a very interesting book. I’ve learned that not all kids in this world need the support of their parents to succeed in life. For instance, Jeannette Walls and her siblings did not have the support of their parents in most part of their life. They were very independent and raised themselves for the most part of their life. However, their parents love them. I believe that anyone who have the motivation, knowledge and mind set like Jeannette and her siblings has, you can fight through any obstacle and over come it without the support of your parents.

      • Muhamad, you raise some good questions about whether people need the support of their family to be successful in life. You mention that “their parents love them,” but that they “did not have the support of their parents.” Explain the difference.

      • Jeannette Walls and her siblings don’t get enough support from their parents as other kids. However, they got love from their parents. What i mean by that is their parents love them as who they are and appreciate them as their children. In the other hand, they don’t have fun as other kids who’s parents will take them out to places like, movies, six flags, disneyland and buy them toys.

  4. This book was great and it talked about her life and how she progressed it. Her parents love their children, but had no type of support for them. Children need the support they need in order to support others. The story was nice and she remembered what she did when she was a young age. It’s kind of funny how many funny mistakes she made, but now she knows why she had to act like that at times.

    • I agree with your opinion, David. Probably if their parents would of support them more that would of have a good life. Similar to what Muhamad said. Especially that they are young, they need the example from their parents. I also agree that it was funny in some of the stories she was telling, remembering her past as a young girl. Many different event that occurred.

    • I agree with David with David the children should recieve support from their parent but it’s not entirely needed. As support does not always necessary have to be from their parents/family or any person for that matter. As I believe Jean matures into an adult she makes a decision on whether she wants to live a life of struggle as her parents did or make a change. I believe that was all the support she needed.

  5. The Glass Castle was a very intriguing memoir, it showed how some people have some kind of metal toughness. For example on page 15 Jeannette writes, “Good for you”, mom said when she saw me cooking. “You’ve got to get right back in the saddle.” Now Jeannette was burned really bad at a very young age for trying to cook hot dogs, and a few days after coming back from the hospital she was right back there cooking hot dogs once again. This shows how mentally strong she is, to be doing the same dangerous act that burned her and hospitalized her in the first place. She has also lived an unbearable life, but despite that she has an excellent way to look past that and move on with her life. Thus showing her mental toughness.

    • I agree with you David . She also shows through out the book how that same “mental toughness” helped her overcome many other situations . That also led her to her success , and he publishing of the book !

  6. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls is a very essential book. The book is trying to show that no matter how critical the situation got for this family, they pushed through it. Rex and Rose Mary were there physically , but not mentally. Rex always let’s the alcohol take over the actual love he has for his family , and Rose Mary let’s selfishness take over. Jeannette, Brian , Lori , and Maureen seem to be each other’s escape out of situations. Jeannette Makes it seem that anyone can overcome any obstacle if you have the right motivation and mind set. However , knowing that they never had a stable home was very distressing. For example, on page 156 she talks about how it was one of the few times she was able to use electricity. These problems made it that much harder for her , but it’s good to know how it all came out to be

    • I agree with you Alarick, Jannette was very limited with what she had, but she made the most of her situation. She was very optimistic from very young and that brought her much success.

  7. As reading and analyzing the book book Glass Castle, I have realized that we should really appreciate the conditions that we are living in. Jeannette’s family was not stable moving from place to place, even though they had been experiencing many adventure while living in a “car.” Although, they did not have much money in their pocket, they all had the dream of becoming rich and construction the “glass castle” which they always dreamed about having. That is very powerful because as Alex Dey (a famous Latin-American motivator) says, “it does not matter what is happening in the, but what you are believing or interpreting.” They believed and worked to accomplishing that dream, in fact Jeannette did become a very successful woman. Not thinking about the bad but looking for solutions on how to become rich. A dream is a great way to start, then actually taking it to action.

  8. The book Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls is a captivating book. Jeanette writes about her childhood memories and how she overcame being homeless. When she was a child her father had the illusion of building the Glass Castle. His excuse for being homeless was they had to find gold lots of gold to build the Glass Castle. Every time their father got into a fight or lost his job they would do the Rex skedaddle. Due to achol problems Rex would become aggravated. Alcohol made him go crazy and not think through. On the first actual Christmas with gifts the family spent together Rex ruined it. His wife had given him the gift of a beads cigarette lighter form the nineteen twenties. He then decided to light up the tree. The tree caught on fire and so did the presents. Rex had managed to ruin the first actual Christmas his children had. After that Jeanette was disappointed with her father. She couldn’t believe he had ruined Christmas for them. For her tenth birthday she decided to ask her father to quit drinking. It was heartbreaking and devastating that she had to give up a birthday wish on her father. Her father did not try to stop drinking. He tied himself to the bed for a couple of days. He unfortunately failed. At the end the Glass Castle was just an illusion. Jeanette was able to move to New York thanks to her sister Lori and her brother Brian. The three saved up money to move to New York. Lori went to New York first then Jeanette moved. They then brought along Brian and Maureen. Jeanette accomplished her goal of becoming a writer.

    • I agree with Kenia, because Rex had put his family in pain & struggle due to the fact that he had a alcoholism problem, which affected his family throughout the book.However, he made his children think they were living in a dream world because he would would tell them how he was going to build a glass castle,

  9. “The Glass Castle” recalls many feelings in the reader. I experienced surprise, happiness, sadness, rage, pity, pride, confusion, hope through the course of reading the memoir, and at the end I was convinced that there is no situation traumatic enough that a person cannot escape it and turn it around.The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls strongly and honestly tells the reader the experiences of her childhood as the daughter of Rex and Rose Mary Walls. Her family was anything but normal and functional. Rex, Jeannette’s father struggled with alcoholism for most of his life, with only short periods of sobriety. Rex was always talking about constructing a “glass castle” for the family to live in. However, that plan never came to that accomplishment . The mother, Rose Mary, an aspiring artist, and totally fascinated in “her” life was definitely marching to the beat of her own drum. She had no time to care for her children. While reading the book I often felt like Rose Mary was bi-polar, with her sudden and extreme mood swings as described by Jeannette.As a result of her unfriendly parents, Jeannette and her siblings had to learn at an early age to fend for themselves. At the tender age of 3, Jeannette was allowed to use the stove. While boiling hotdogs, Jeannette’s dress caught fire and she sustained burns from which she has scars for life. Jeannette’s family never stayed in one place long. They often were homeless, sleeping in the desert or in the car. When they did find somewhere to live, it was no more than a shack, often without water and electricity. What amazed me was that throughout all of the chaos the Wall’s experienced, Rex and Rose Mary was never negative about their life. They would always look beyond their circumstances and see the good in every situation and encourage the children to do the same. They all had hope, and ironically, aside from Rex’s alcoholism, he was an intelligent man and a genius in mathematics, electricity and astrology.Throughout the book Jeannette and the other siblings show nothing but love, compassion, and helpfulness towards their parents.

    • I agree with Ana Melissa because Rex’s alcohol problems caused pain and many obstacles for his family. Even though he was an alcoholic his children were able to stay strong and united as a family. They were always united and there for one another. You brought up some very intresting points like the mother being bipolar and having mood swings. You also talked about her aspiring to be a painter. Both parents had an illusion. Rex with the Glass Castle and Rose Mary aspring to be a painter.

  10. The book “The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls is a great book which I really enjoy reading. It grabs my attention the way very few books do. The way the author writes the book, it seems as I am building a bond with the author although I have never met her. The way she describes her family’s struggles and situations during her childhood it feels so as if it was written through a actual child’s innocent eye and state of mind. Oppose to an successful gossip celebrity writer, writing her memoir looking many years back. I really enjoy the description she give towards fire. First, she starts book with the burns she suffered and then talks about her fascination with fire and her refusal to be scared of it. As the book continues fire plays a constant role, for example shortly after her incident she played with fire damaging the face of her beloved Tinkerbell figurine, one other example is her younger brother Brian was once nearly trapped in a a shed they called the “laboratory” had caught on fire. I also admire the childhood relationship that Jean had with her younger brother Brian.

    • I agree with Tony because the novel also caught my attention. The way Jeannette wrote her novel was so inspiring and so much to learn from. Makes anyone living in a better situation appreciate what they have. “Appreciate all you have, before you have it taken away.”

  11. I think this book is and was very interesting, I like how she talks about her past and she has now overcome a lot of things. It is really sad how she talks about how she became homeless and how she has always wanted to help here mom out, but her mom would always say “I’m living my life how I want to”. I think this has been one of the saddest books I’ve ever read. This book can relate to a lot of lives out there that are probably going through what she went as a child. This is a very nice book as well because it makes you see things at a different angle of how people have life harder than others.

    • I agree, she always tried to find ways to help her family in different areas that needed it. Like with her dad and his drinking problem, convincing her mother to get a job, and even coming up with ideas to help their home look less of a mess. She had to grow up a lot faster than most children have to when they are 7 years old.

      • I also agree with what Natalie and Sara said, it is sad she had to mature and grow up faster than most kids did. She tried to improve her families problems and offered her parents help but growing up she learned that some people even though need help won’t take your help.

  12. The Glass Castle written by Jeannette Walls, is centered around the story of her and her family. They are always short on money and food. Her family moves around the country often and try to re-settle in many places. Jeannette writes about her rare childhood as she was growing up, and wrote about the memories she has of her father and mother. She writes how her parents refused to follow other people’s thoughts of responsibility, which left their children the responsibility to take care of themselves for even the most simple of needs, like food and shelter. Jeannette tells her story in an honest way and is not written with anger or sadness. With the events that she talks about, it will shock the readers because she presents them in a way that makes it seem as if it was normal for her. However, all of those events she went through made her grow up as a strong person.

    • I agree with Sara because everything she and her family went through made her stronger and from that she became the person she is now today.

  13. The novel Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls was a very interesting book. It made me realize how much I should appreciate everything I have that many people don’t. The author expressed many feelings throughout the book. At the beginning Jeanette and her family went from place to place with no secure home. But Jeanette’s father always made them look at it as just a fun journey. They never had what most kids received, but her father would always try to look for the best solution. For example, during Christmas, Jeannette’s parents didn’t have any money to buy them presents and her father just made them choose a star and said, “Years from now, when all the junk they got is broken and long forgotten you’ll still have your stars.” This shows how they would work things out even in the most important dates. This just makes me realize how kids all around the world may be living. The novel is a very inspiring story because for any person living in those conditions would mean terrible but yet Jeannette’s family would always make their everyday life be worth it.

    • I agree with you Hector, although this family seems to be in a very tough situation, they always find a way to make themselves happy. Jeannette and her family struggled a lot because Rex did not do his job right, but he seemed to be a really good father throughout the story.

  14. Honestly, so far I’ve been enjoying The Glass Castle so much. I’ve gotten the chance to enjoy it, because it caught my attention since I saw the interesting tittle it had. This book is very delightful, because of the ways the author, Jeannette, interprets the book. She payed close attention to every little detail to satisfy the reader. Also, throughout the story Jeannette mentions her family struggling with economy. Jeannette’s dad, Rex-Walls, has this illusion and fantasy that takes him and his family to bankrupt.
    When you have children it is very important that you do not fail at your job, and role you are assigned to. Rex’s job was to take the family out of the ruin, and provide them a home, but as time passes by he does not seem to meet the expectations. Furthermore, he is a person that likes drinking a lot, and this causes a lot of problems among his family. In the book The Glass Castle, I read several times that when Rex would drink he would get very aggressive. Rex did not seem like an aggressive person, because throughout the story, Jeannette, describes him as a very magnificent father. However, he would be very confrontational, specially with Jeannette’s mom. They would often argue because she was tiered of living in misery, and wanted Rex to get a job and sustain the family.
    This novel was one of my very favorite. I hope that this semester we keep on reading novels like this and that we get to enjoy them, and cherish as we read them.

    • I agree with Daniel about Jeannette paying close attention to detail to satisfy the reader and that we should cherish these types of books because they offer a lot to us as readers.

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  16. I have read The Glass Castle before because I like more non-fiction books. I still think the book is interesting enough to read a second time. The book is written in such a good way because she explains little details for you to fully understand what her thoughts, actions, and feelings were. The part in the book that stood out to me was when Jeannette told her mother the shack they lived in was cold and her mother told her to just cheer up and be happy that they have their family together. That especially stood out to me because it is basically her mom giving life advice that no matter any situation, family will always be there for you. That stood out to me so much because I can relate hard times my family had and my mother telling me that it was going to be ok because I was surrounded by family. It’s just one of many great things mom told her to always remember. Overall the book is and was amazing both times I read it.

    • I agree with Francine the book is very detailed. Also in a way we all have been through a situation as Jeannette or similar.

  17. The Book The Glass Castle By Jeannette Walls is a good book. Even though i didn’t read the whole book i liked up to wear I read. Some parts of the book did get me thinking and so just in a way got me mad. She does go though a lot and sometimes we also go through. At the end the book was good and i would like to read more books similar to The Glass Castle.

  18. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls is a very interesting book. All the experiences she shares really grasped me because of the way she talked about them. Walls great details that helps to bring me into the book and keep me there. Many authors can do this as well, but Walls brings it a level that is extraordinary. This is a great book and I hope I can read more books like The Glass Castle this semester.

  19. Thanks everyone for sharing your thoughts on the book! I’m glad that you found it as engaging as I did, as well as infuriating, perplexing, saddening and hopeful. Walls takes a story that could be very depressing and manages to show the triumph of the human spirit through her and her siblings’ lives. Looking forward to reading your essays!

  20. I love how crazy Jeannette’s life gets and how they grew up not being so materialistic. How her and her siblings are raised constantly moving around and giving new meaning to the word homelessness. I love how random situations come up and how it ends up making the family stronger. Their is a lot of emotional connection and over all i loved it 😀 still need to finish it haha

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