I’d like to begin this post with my insight on the book. When first choosing The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, I didn’t think I would have thoroughly enjoyed the novel. I have now progressed through more than half of the novel and I can confidently say I was really happy with my choice, as it has left me wanting to keep reading on. I realized that the experiences Walls speaks about, are true and occur in very many American families nowadays, but are disregarded in today’s society.
To begin with, when analyzing The Glass Castle from an archetypal point of view, many things are connected to this theory of literary criticism. To start, Jeannette (main character, also 2nd youngest of the family) possesses a good amount of hero traits in this memoir. Jeannette seems to show a lot more potential and understanding than anyone in her family, which sets her out to be the hero of the story. Her telling the story from her point of view also gives me a better understanding of her being
a hero as she describes the experiences she faces and how she feels about them, and how she acts towards things.
Secondly, her siblings: Lori Walls (oldest), Brian Walls (second oldest), Maureen (the youngest), and Rose Mary(mother) are seen as the helpless/innocent characters in the story. There are certain events that outline how innocent they are for example when Brian is being inappropriately touched by his own grandmother: “I saw Erma kneeling on the floor in front of Brian, grabbing at the crotch of his pants, squeezing and kneading while mumbling to herself and telling Brian to hold still […] Brian, his cheeks wet with tears.” (Walls 92). Brian is seen as an innocent child because he is clearly being inappropriately touched by his grandmother, yet all he does is stand there and cry instead of standing up for himself and doing something. Lori’s innocence is displayed when she keeps getting bullied at their school they attend in Welch. Unlike Jeannette and how she stands up to the bullying, Lori does not have the confidence to do such a thing. On the other hand, Maureen is just a baby, and Rose Mary constantly gets abused by Rex, but always end sup forgiving him.
The villain of the story can be identified as Rex Walls (father of Jeannette). Rex is constantly consumed by alcohol, and his delusional dream of finding gold to become rich. He goes through numerous jobs eventually getting fired from them intentionally as he forms excuses that each of them are run by the mob, and they are a waste of his time. Rex can be identified as a villain because he constantly puts the family in a bad state which is why they’re so poor, limits future opportunities for his children because of his gambling and alcohol issues, and also mistreats their mother (Rose Mary) by abusing her and cheating on her. After Rex tried to stop his habit of drinking, it comes back and he absolutely loses it on his children and Rose Mary: “When we tried to help him he cursed at us, and lurched at us, swinging his fist […] ‘Rose Mary where the goddamn hell
are you, you stinking bitch?’ […] They fought their way into the dressing room, and he knocked her to the floor.” (Walls 78). It is easy to tell that Rex clearly is a bad father and husband as his bad alcohol habit leads him to abusing his own kids and their mother. A man who possesses traits like these clearly cannot provide a good life for his own kids, which makes him a villain to Jeannette as he holds her back from the opportunity of living a good, and having opportunities to excel in life.
I also identified that Jeannette’s quest is much alike to a
rags to riches story. The book first begins with describing how Jeannette’s present life is like, “The taxi pulled up in front of my building, the doorman held the door for me, and the elevator man took me up to my floor,” (Walls 2). It is quite easy to assume that Jeannette lives a good life as she has her own apartment building. After this, Jeannette starts to dig into her past and how bad her life was, “I was three years old, and we were living in a trailer park in a southern Arizona town,” (Walls 3). Jeannette’s life clearly wasn’t that great because she was living in a trailer park but also lived a poor life, with an alcoholic father, and an innocent mother, who were always moving around, not really leaving Jeannette with any real opportunity to succeed.
Walls, Jeannette. The Glass Castle: A Memoir. New York : Scribner, 2005. Print.