The Glass Castle book is a memoir by Jeannette Walls. The book has recounted the irregular, poverty-stricken upbringing Jeannette and her siblings had encounter deeply by their dysfunctional parents. Jeannette is faced with numerous barriers throughout her life. Despite the many obstacles set forth by her parents during her childhood, Jeannette develops into a successful adult later in life. One of these obstacles is the lack of a stable home base molds her into the woman she grows up to be. Jeanette is the daughter of Rex her father who is an alcoholic and manipulates and knows how to use his wife and his children for his own needs and yet never stops loving them and hoping they love him. While Rose Mary Walls is the most selfish mother of the family who has taken her baggage with her and passes it on to her children. In spite that she still loves her family. Jeanette Walls was the second oldest of the four siblings in the walls family. Dissimilar to mom, she enjoys adhering to the rules even though she is always up for an adventure as well. Different from Dad, she has been committed to doing something that will follow throughout. Jeanette Sister Lori Walls is the oldest child of the family but isn’t the one who dominates. She is smart and loving, but without Jeannette, she hasn’t the courage to escape the life she hates. While Maureen Walls is the most fragile of the children and spends all her life looking for someone to take care of her. Her brother Brian Walls is the siblings that learn from very early at a young age to be the protector of his sisters. Jeannette was the one who often takes on the role of parents when they seek to act like children. But for much of the memoir, Jeanette adores and idealizes her father, and struggles to reconcile this idealized image with Dad’s reckless choices and mistakes. This paper will be focusing on Jeanette was three years old the family living in Welch and the boundaries that they have along with each role of the family members.
According to Garfat T (2017), “a system theory can be defined as a complex of elements in mutual interaction. When this definition is applied to families, it allows us to view the family as a unit and thus focus on observing the interaction among family members between the family and the illness or problem rather than studying family members individually”. An illustration of Jeannette family in the system theory depicted when she was three-year-old, Jeannette is the one that often cooked for herself hot dogs on the stove top. One day, while she was cooking the gas flame, catches on her dress. She was terrified, she calls for help and her mom rushes to her and raps her into a blanket, and a neighbor drives them to the hospital. Jeanette has spent several days in the hospital where she experiences having sleeping in a clean bed and receiving three meals a day. When her parents and her siblings, Brian and older sister Lori, come to visit, the family is loud, singing songs, and telling stories. The staffs were so concerned for Jeanette about her living condition at home but she was quite fine with her parent’s laissez-fairee parenting style. During one of the visits, her father was telling her about the story with Lori’s getting stung by a scorpion and how he and Mom took Lori to a Native American healer because Dad does not trust hospitals. He told Jeannette that her Mom should have taken her to the same Doctor instead of having her in the Hospital when Jeannette got burned. This was the system of Jeanette’s family her father does not believed in the Doctor and has a parent he did not have his daughter at heart he is only thinking about himself and she is sick. He believes that he did not need outside help from the Hospital to save his daughter life he rather brings her home instance while the mother agreed with him. Bad Parenting is the act of not showing the responsibilities that should be taken as a mother or father.
In The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls reveals the faults of parenting through the use of symbolism, imagery, and characterization. Rosemary and Rex’s Struggles to show their children (Jeannette, Lori, Brian) the importance of the appearance and guidance of being by their side as a parent. The father would use storytime at night to tells bedtime stories that focus only on him. This symbolizes his need for his children to believe that he is a strong and powerful father.
After Jeanette’s family has been driving for a month they have finally made it in Welch, West Virginia. Welch is known for having a picture of destitution and unemployment, though in earlier days it thrived as a coal mining town. Rex takes his family on a tour of the town and explains that the very first food stamps were handed out in Welch after hard times came to its people. Rose Mary sees the destitution of the town as an opportunity to establish herself as an artist since there would be no competition where she lived. Jeanette’s father has always been telling the story about building his house which he name called the glass castle. Welch was where his reality came into play in settle somewhere for the longest time that they could call home. Jeanette has wanted a house that everyone could see has different but her parents did not careless of her ideas toward fixing and painting the house their response was negative. The can of paint Jeannette used to try to make their house look better freezes and can never be used again. This is a symbol of the futility she faces when she tries to normalize her family. In going out of her way to get a ladder and the family did not help her to paint the house the father was not home most of the time either.
The parents show no interest in the welfare of their children’s living conditions. Jeannette’s mother and father show their faults by destroying everything the children try to accomplish because of their habits. Jeannette had to take on the responsibilities of her parent when they should be the one parenting their children she have to be doing it herself and catering for her other siblings as well. According to the handout given in class on let Mother take care of it as it is related to “Over functioning tends to feel that there is no option but to take on the responsibility and do the work required. He or she thinks the other is incapable of functioning in the area and feels forced to do it” In this case, Jeanette was the over-functioning person within her family all the time in taking on the responsibilities of getting everything done in the home. She was the one who have to get the family running because her parents were irresponsible.
Throughout the Glass Castle, there has been a constant shift in the mobile analogy has the family keep moving from one place to another there was no stability within the family system. An according to Miller. J (powerpoint 2019) the mobile analogy “It is helpful when thinking of a family as a system, to compare it to a mobile”. The father who had an addiction problem a Jeanette was the one who had to be taking on the responsibilities of caring for him and telling him how he should stop drinking. When Dad has lost his job Jeannette was the one who is telling them what they want to get a job and trying to maintain the stability within the family and keeping things under control. It has affected the children so much especially when he was drunk and could bet the mother and throw anything that he came in contact with to hit anyone that was in his way. That was not healthy for the childhood of his children to be explored to that kind of living it has a toll on Jeanette being that she was the oldest child. The mom told her to go and talk to her dad when he was drunk to stop the drinking and has a child that should have not to be her role to be taking on his lock of responsibility.
Jeannette is a hard-working and intelligent child who takes on every responsibility that her parents should be doing. While Jeanette would describe his father to be smelling like cigarettes, whiskey, and hair tonic. He has invented credentials to get jobs, which he never keeps for long. He is a dreamer who always has big plans but never put them into perspective. For instance, when they have to move because of bill collectors, Rex instead tells his children that they are being chased by FBI agents. Rex is plagued by drunkenness and gambling addictions so he keeps moving from one place to the other. The mom rose Mary frequently likes to withdraws her self into her world which sometimes to the point of placing her children in harm. According to Garfat T (2017) “role exists in all families, whether it be traditional roles such as a parent, brother, sister, or less traditional roles such as scapegoat, savior, or switchboard”. In the glass castle, the role changed when Jeanette and Brian have to be taking care of the house when the Dad was away. Both of them were digging a hole for the foundation of the glass castle they work so hard in making the best of it. Therefore the family could not pay for the town’s trash to remove their garbage and it was piling upon them. She has asked her parents what they are going to do he and her brother watched the hole all filled with garbage that they labor so much to dig. The change in roles may maintain the stability in the relationship, but it may also push a family towards a different equilibrium or dysfunction. Whereas the father he should have been the one that makes provision for his children’s health and he did not care less about there a living condition that was concerned to Jeanette. Likewise, Jeanette was the one who had to make her our food when her parents should be the ones to take care of her while she is three years old her role was to provide for her self.
The family was living in a toxic environment that was unhealthy for the children to be in consuming all of the harmful substances. The garbage in the hole beside their house, the rat that lays down in Maureen’s bed, and the frozen paint all represent the realities of Jeannette’s life that she just can’t seem to overcome. The children were the ones who have to be protecting themselves from the rat eating their food while the mom thinks that the rat needs food too to eat. How unhealthy that is for the mother to think that the rat needs food when it is passed on a disease that they can consume from eating the food on the stove. The parents did not improve in changing the living condition so that it could be more conducive for their children to live in they think all about themselves. Families are usually presiding over boundaries that are impermeable or permeable. In the family systems, the boundaries must be both permeable and limiting and if the family boundary is too permeable, the system loses identity and integrity. However, if the boundary is too closed or impermeable, the necessary interaction with the larger world is shut off. According to Garfat T (2017), families need to have boundaries that they can be provided with the need for help which can be associated with permeable meanwhile there must be a standard in keeping the family dignity. In Jeanette family, her parent has set their our boundaries in not want anything from anyone. While they were desperate and in need of help, no one could ever help them because their boundaries of not taking help from anyone have affected the family so much. To the point, Jeanette has gotten some clothing from school and the mom told her to bring them back even though they needed clothing. They were a system in place for them to assess for help and they refuse to do so which could may their life better but instead, they still to their boundaries.
Therefore, within the boundaries of the system, patterns develop as certain family member’s behavior is caused by causes other family member’s behaviors in predictable ways. While maintaining the same patterns of behaviors within a system may lead to balance in the family system, but also dysfunction. Jeanette’s parent was so self-reliance on one’s own decisions, capabilities, and resources. They become different from others that are living around them because of them refuse to accept any help from others to avoid them being a charity case and later on from their kids. They rather are homeless throughout their life as they liked the concept of wildlife and homelessness as an adventure which they pride in living this way. Walls Family System was a group of differentiated solid selves each one exhibiting their own adaptable.
The smallest stable relationship that forms the base of the Walls Family is the relationship between the trio-Rex Walls, Jeannette Walls, and Rose Mary Walls. As the ” triangles in relationships are any three-way relationship. The basic family triangle is father, mother, child. A basic social triangle might be criminal, victim, police. The classic triangle everyone knows of and probably thinks of when they hear the word, is husband, wife, mistress”. Garfat T (2017) As the triangle looks at the stable and unstable side of Jeanette’s family between the father, daughter combine mother, daughter combine apart. The three is the one that serves cornerstone within the family system. In the glass castle book Jeanette would be the one depicting her life has a child with the memories of her father as some of the best moments of her life. Regardless of the instances in which the father has failed to protect his children, refused to take responsibility for them, and even stole from them, Jeannette still loved him even until death for two reasons: one, because he is an ever ending source of inspiration to her, and two for his portray making her feel special. Jeanette’s mother Rose Mary was not an understanding and neither does she able to stand the responsibilities of being a parent to her children as she is expected to be the dominant force in nurturing the family. She would keep her own needs before her children just to please her self and never have time to put them first has a mother; when she finds out that the children would have eaten the margarine in the refrigerator, she says it is because of her children‟s selfishness. Concerning Jeannette, as a mother she was always absent.
In one particular instance, when she told Mary Uncle Stanley touched her inappropriately Mary‟s reaction to this was cold and shocking. “Oh, you‟re probably imagining it,”…..”Mom cocked her head and looked concerned. Poor Stanley he‟s so lonely” (Walls,184) writes the author. Instead of providing her offspring at least the warmth of embrace she sympathized with Stanley and offered Jeannette an idealized advice “she said that sexual assault was a crime of perception if you don‟t think you are hurt you are not.”(Walls,184). The memoir the comfort that the children would have experience with their grandparents was different. Out of the three, Grandma Smith was super special towards the children. Therefore, Grandma Smith represents the longing of Jeanette for responsible figurehead she could look up to and thus, seek refuge beneath. The Grandmother would set rules with punishments and was very punctual even though as a young child she loved her without end more than her daughter. Grandma Smith makes no secret that Jeannette is her favorite grandchild and she loved her grandma for the structure she brought to her. She writes, “But I loved Grandma Smith”… “I even liked all her rules” (Walls, 111). Maureen turned out to be different from other siblings. She was not around, or old enough when the parents had some good in them. In The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls have shown a lot of resilience by the way that she dealt with her family being different from most other families that are living in the neighborhood and how she was able to accept the fact that her family was poor. Jeanette would always try to look on the bright side of the most situation, even though it was not easy. It was quite amazing to seemingly the children stayed loyal to their parents throughout the unimaginable hardships. As Jeanette got older she comes to realized that her family was not like other families, and I think that she has accepted it. I feel that apart of Jeanette becoming resilience was being able to plan and be ready for her in spite of all the challenges she faces in childhood life.
The story from the glass castle depicted a scary and horror experience that Jeanette had throughout her childhood journey. Trying to intervene in the wall family would be difficult because of the closeness that is within the family plus the children kept everything within the circle because they did not want to disappoint their parents. Since they were taught from early that it does not matter what happens they are going to still together as a family which makes it more difficult to get the children to speak about the thing that they do not like. Jeannette and her siblings were the ones who overcame the hardships of poverty, lack of support from their parents to embrace their dreams. While in the real sense, primarily it is the lessons of self-sufficiency and fearlessness taught by their parents that provided them the necessary strength. As a Child and Youth Care Counselor, this book has opened my eyes to be more aware of the types of families that I will be working with and how I can be prepared to work with them. With the knowledge that I have now it makes me more aware if I see a family living in this type of condition, it is not safe according to child and welfare service.