Independent Novel Study #1 (1/3)

The Glass Castle (by Jeannette Walls)

Jeannette is a strong, four-year-old girl. After she is injured and flung out of the vehicle, due to her dad’s reckless, under-the-influence driving, she calmly assumes she’s expendable enough for her parents to leave her behind. Her mind thinks, “they might not realize I’m gone or they might decide that it wasn’t worth the drive back to retrieve me; that, like Quixote the cat, I was a bother and a burden they could do without (30).”  She faces an intertwined external and internal conflict. Her dad recklessly immerses himself in substance abuse and defocuses on the dangers it presents his kids. Jeannette must externally handle an unstable upbringing while unconsciously, internally deal with low self-worth. Jeannette doesn’t want much, that’s the entrancing and impressive quality about her, she’s completely content with her life despite the twists and turns. She thinks every part of her life is wonderful and wants only for her family to stay together. Jeannette thinks her “dad [is] perfect, even though he [does] have what [her] Mom [calls] a bit of a drinking situation (23).”  She fears conflict as she sacrifices her own well-being for a calm household, for example, she starves silently for weeks so her siblings can eat and parents don’t argue about money.  She is not a materialistic character but she craves the approval of her father- he holds a certain power over her. I can connect to Jeannette in many, many senses but the most prominent is her altruism towards her family; the need to shield loved ones is an inherent quality in the both of us. However, Jeannette handles obstacles with an effortless appreciation that her loved ones are with her. She is quick to forgive, forget, and move on with an unfaltering smile on her face. Especially in Jeannette’s situation, I would find it difficult to remain as positive as she is. I hope to be as optimistic as little Jeannette one day.

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