Glass Castle Essay – 3533 Words

The Glass Castle is a remarkable memoir that chronicles the life of author Jeannette Walls. This inspiring and heartbreaking story gives readers an in-depth look into how Walls and her siblings lived, as well as their creative parents. From tragedy to triumph, The Glass Castle captures the beauty and resilience of the human spirit with its honest portrayal of family dynamics. It’s no wonder why this powerful book has become one of America’s favorites!

The themes explored throughout The Glass Castle have made it a popular choice for essays in both high school and college settings. Whether you’re tasked with writing about poverty, familial relationships, or overcoming hardship, there are plenty of topics to explore within these pages. In today’s article we’ll take a closer look at some tips and tricks on crafting an engaging essay based around The Glass Castle.

From structuring your paper to finding evidence from the text itself, let’s dive deeper into what makes writing an essay about The Glass Castle so special. With these helpful hints and insights, you can craft a captivating paper that will surely impress your professor or teacher!


The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls is a memoir about resilience and the power of hope in difficult situations. It describes her childhood, living with her eccentric parents who were both brilliant but often irresponsible. The book follows Jeanette as she grows up and eventually leaves home to build a better life for herself. This essay will provide an overview of the main elements of this story, such as its characters, setting, and themes.

The main characters are Jeannette’s family: Dad (Rex), Mom (Rose Mary), Maureen, Lori, Brian, and Jeannette herself. They are all on their own journey towards understanding themselves and what it means to be independent. Throughout the novel each character has different experiences that shape them into the people they eventually become. Their interactions with one another highlight their struggles—both internally and externally—as well as how they learn from each other’s mistakes

The setting also plays an important role in The Glass Castle. As a child, Jeanette moves around quite frequently due to her family’s homelessness; however, her mother always encourages her children to take pride in their upbringing despite the lack of stability or resources they have available. Through these moving settings we can see how Jeanette continues to stay hopeful even when faced with adversity and uncertainty.

From this overview of The Glass Castle’s characters, setting and themes, we can see how Walls’ memoir captures the beauty of resilience through hardship while emphasizing hope even in times of struggle. Without further ado let us delve deeper into analyzing some of the main characters featured in this remarkable story…

Main Characters

The main characters of the Glass Castle are a dysfunctional yet loving family. The Walls family consists of father, Rex; mother, Rose Mary; and four children: Brian, Lori, Jeannette and Maureen. Each character has distinct traits that contribute to their development throughout the story.

Rex is an intelligent yet irresponsible alcoholic who’s capable of great charm but struggles with consistent work ethic. He brings his children on adventures around the country while neglecting them financially by not paying rent or utilities. His alcoholism symbolizes how he avoids responsibility when things don’t go as planned in his life.

Rose Mary is an ambitious artist whose dreams were put aside for her husband’s plans. She puts up with her husband’s irresponsibility even though she does not agree with it. As a result, she creates a bond between herself and her daughter Jeanette which becomes stronger as they grow older together. Her relationship with Jeanette helps illustrate the importance of friendship during hard times and encourages independence from one another at the same time.

Each Walls child has unique traits that shape their individual personalities and relationships within the family unit. Brian is independent yet compassionate towards others despite his own circumstances; Lori is level headed and strong-willed; Jeannette is determined and courageous; Maureen is imaginative and carefree. Through these different characteristics, we see how each sibling relies on one another for support during difficult moments in their lives.

By highlighting both positive and negative qualities about each character, we come to understand how each family member influenced one another through their interactions with each other–from providing comfort to inspiring growth–making them some of literature’s most dynamic characters full of symbolism and purposeful development . This allows us to uncover deeper meanings behind this complex story as we learn more about its setting and theme…

Setting And Theme

The setting of the Glass Castle is key to understanding both its themes and environment. Set primarily in Welch, West Virginia and Phoenix, Arizona, the memoir depicts two vastly different sides of America; one rural and impoverished, and the other urban and more affluent. The stark contrast between these settings serves as a constant reminder of how difficult it can be for people to move up the social ladder due to their economic circumstances.

Three Key Elements of Setting & Theme:

  1. Rural Poverty vs Urban Affluence
  2. Social Mobility Struggles
  3. Different Sides of America

This duality creates an interesting tension throughout the book that furthers our understanding of what it means to live in poverty in this country. We see not only the physical hardships that are associated with living on nothing but scraps, but also feel Jeannette’s emotional turmoil over being forced into survival mode at such a young age.

This unique look at life on either side provides readers with insight into how hard it can be to make something out of a situation where you have virtually no resources or support system around you. It offers us a glimpse into how far someone has to go just to reach a place of stability and security – something we take for granted when fortunate enough not be born into poverty. Transitioning seamlessly now from Setting & Theme to Literary Devices…

Literary Devices

The Glass Castle is full of literary devices that highlight the themes in this novel. To start, symbolism is used to convey ideas about family and love in a meaningful way. For example, Jeannette Walls’ mother uses rocks to symbolize her hope for stability within their chaotic lives. She places these rocks around their home as if they are creating an impenetrable wall between them and the outside world. Additionally, figurative language helps evoke emotion from readers by comparing unlike things through similes and metaphors.

In one scene early on in The Glass Castle, Rex Walls compares his daughter’s determination to complete her dream of becoming a journalist to “a squirrel trying to get into a nut factory.

” This metaphor implies the difficulty she will face while pursuing her career goals despite coming from a disadvantaged background. Foreshadowing also plays an important role in the story as it builds suspense throughout the narrative.

For instance, when Jeannette first sees her father drinking heavily at age 7, it foreshadows his eventual alcoholism which becomes central to how he interacts with his children later on in life. Characterization also contributes significantly to understanding each character’s motivations and intentions; specifically Rex who displays contradictory behavior such as being both loving and irresponsible towards his children simultaneously.

Finally, irony creates tension between what is expected versus reality; for example Jeanette’s expectations of having an idyllic childhood were completely shattered when she found out that her parents only wanted adventure instead of providing security for their family.

With all these literary devices combined together, The Glass Castle offers its own unique form of storytelling that keeps readers engaged until the very end. Through vivid imagery and cleverly crafted characters, author Jeanette Walls paints a powerful picture of resilience against odds no matter how difficult or seemingly impossible they may seem at times.

Critical Analysis

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls is an autobiography that follows the life of a young girl, growing up in poverty and with parents who don’t always make the best decisions. In this critical analysis I will explore further how her upbringing shaped her character and outlook on life.

To begin analyzing The Glass Castle, it’s important to recognize its structure. It starts out as a memoir but gradually shifts into more of a reflective essay. This shift allows readers to gain greater insight into Walls’ thoughts about her situation during each stage of her life. Additionally, she uses various literary devices such as flashbacks and transitions to link past events to present ones which helps develop themes throughout the novel such as resilience and hope despite adversity.

Secondly, examining the title itself provides some interesting insights into the book’s meaning. The phrase “glass castle” refers to Walls’ father’s dream of building his own home made from glass – symbolizing a safe haven away from their difficult living conditions. Although they never actually build it, the notion serves as a metaphor for perseverance; even when obstacles seem insurmountable one can still strive towards achieving something great.

By exploring these elements readers can gain better understanding of why Walls chose to write this particular story at this point in time and what messages she wanted to convey through it. Taking all these aspects into consideration helps us evaluate not only The Glass Castle itself but also our own lives in relation to it.

Significance Of The Title

The title of The Glass Castle is packed with symbolism and importance, making it an apt metaphor for the story. It serves as a representation of hope in times of despair, while also highlighting the fragility of dreams. The glass castle stands out among its surroundings, signifying strength yet delicacy at once. Its walls are made of glass, reminding us that although our goals may be lofty and seemingly impossible to achieve; if we focus enough energy on them they can become tangible.

In addition to being a symbol for ambitious dreams, the glass castle represents resilience despite hardship. Just like the characters in Jeannette Walls’ memoir have to overcome various obstacles throughout their lives, so too must one build up their own metaphorical glass castle from scratch.

Doing this requires courage and perseverance – two qualities which are often necessary when trying to reach great heights. Moreover, each character has to create their own individualized version of the ‘castle’ based off what works best for them; whether through education or hard-work – there is no singular path towards success.

The imagery associated with Jeannette’s father’s dream structure serves as an embodiment of his ultimate goal: To provide his family with stability and security even though life had dealt him difficult cards along the way. Ultimately, he wanted something more than just survival – He wanted real growth; transformation into something beautiful and resilient – much like his vision of a majestic ‘glass castle’.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1.How Does The Glass Castle Symbolize The Characters’ Journeys?

A.Symbolism is an important part of any story and the glass castle in Jeannette Walls’ memoir is no exception. It serves to represent both the characters’ journeys and their development throughout the text. In this essay, we will explore how the glass castle symbolizes these aspects of the characters’ stories.

The symbolic representation of a glass castle implies fragility as well as strength for each character present in Walls’ memoir. The idea that a home made out of such fragile material could still be strong speaks to each individual’s personal journey through life.

This concept also reflects on each character’s ability to grow despite difficult circumstances they face along the way. For example, Jeannette finds solace when she sees her father constructing his dream home—the glass castle—and later realizes it was actually just an illusion created by him to bring hope into their lives during tough times. Despite all the hardships faced along their path, the family manages to stay together and eventually succeed with some help from one another.

Another significant aspect of symbolism found in Walls’ memoir is its use to portray different stages in each character’s development throughout their respective journeys. Everyone starts at a certain point and moves forward while gaining experience or learning valuable lessons along the way; this process can be seen within walls’ writing as each person progresses towards maturity and understanding those around them better.

As mentioned before, Jeannette discovers more about herself and her parents after seeing her father build his dream house—a metaphor for reaching for something bigger than what you have now but never getting there because it’s too hard or impossible—she learns that sometimes even if things don’t always turn out quite right, people still manage to find ways to make do with what they have.

The overall message behind Walls’ memoir is that despite obstacles encountered on our paths, we are able to overcome them and come out stronger than ever before thanks to our resilience and determination. Symbolism plays a big role here as it allows readers to connect more deeply with events occurring within the book since symbols often carry deeper meanings beyond surface level viewing without necessarily providing explicit explanations for them (i.e., like why building a glass castle would represent hope).

Through studying these symbols embedded in Walls’ work, we gain a greater appreciation for everything that goes into making us who we are today: our struggles, successes, experiences etc., which ultimately shapes our future selves regardless whether tangible results are produced or not.

Q2.How Does The Setting Of The Glass Castle Affect The Story?

A.The setting of the Glass Castle has a profound influence on its characters and their journeys. It serves as more than just a backdrop; it is an ever-present factor that shapes who they are and how they interact with one another. The environment in which these people live and grow up directly affects them, whether in positive or negative ways. Through powerful imagery, Jeanette Walls allows us to gain insight into the lives of her family members by illustrating the impact that their surroundings have on them.

Anaphora is used effectively throughout the novel to emphasize how integral this setting is to each character’s development – “the sun was hot during the day but cooled off at night” being a prime example. This recurring phrase provides readers with a vivid understanding of just how harsh life can be for those living in poverty, particularly when there is no consistent shelter from extreme weather conditions like heat waves and thunderstorms.

Additionally, this statement gives readers insight into why such drastic measures were taken by the Walls family in order to survive – even if it meant taking risks such as stealing food or vandalizing buildings for scrap metal.

The Glass Castle setting also serves as both a physical representation of struggle and hope for the Walls family. Despite having virtually nothing, they still managed to make something out of what little they had – whether through creativity (building walls made out of glass bottles) or ingenuity (composting scraps to create gardens). These moments provide glimpses into the resilience of human nature and demonstrate that we should never give up despite whatever hardships come our way.

Here are five key takeaways regarding how the setting of The Glass Castle impacts its story:

  • The environment reflects hardship and adversity endured by each character
  •  Anaphora emphasizes importance of setting within plot
  •  Location evokes feelings of struggle yet provides hope
  •  Weather highlights challenges faced daily
  •  Resilience displayed among characters serves as source of inspiration

Q3.What Are Some Of The Literary Techniques Used In The Glass Castle?

A.When discussing literature, it’s important to consider the literary techniques used. In The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls, there are many literary devices that contribute to its power and impact on readers. From symbolism to metaphor and beyond, these tools help create a vivid story with real-life implications.

One of the most prominent literary devices in The Glass Castle is symbolism. It’s no surprise; symbols often hide powerful messages beneath their surface meanings. For example, the glass castle symbolizes hope for a better future, while also showing how difficult it can be to break away from our pasts and reach those dreams. This symbolism resonates deeply with readers who have dealt with similar struggles in their own lives.

The book also employs metaphors extensively throughout its narrative. By taking two seemingly unrelated ideas or concepts and linking them together, metaphors provide an insightful look at life’s complexities – something Jeanette Walls excels at in her writing. Ultimately, the use of these metaphors serves as a reminder that sometimes we must take risks if we want to achieve our goals.

In The Glass Castle, Jeanette Walls captures timeless truths about humanity through expertly crafted literary techniques like symbolism and metaphor. These techniques make the story come alive for readers as they reflect upon their own experiences during each twist and turn of this unforgettable tale.

Q4.What Is The Significance Of The Title Of The Glass Castle?

A.The title of ‘The Glass Castle’ is incredibly significant. It serves as a powerful symbol, conveying the meaning behind not only the story but also its characters and their lives. The glass castle itself acts as something that will never be achieved or fully realized, similar to how Jeannette Walls’ family constantly strived for something that was just out of reach.

At first glance, this title seems to suggest fragility and transparency; however, upon further examination it becomes clear that it represents so much more than just physical characteristics. This idea can be seen in many aspects throughout the book such as Rex’s ambitions and dreams being shattered by his alcoholism or Rose Mary’s struggle with reality while she continues to paint her own version of utopia on the walls of her bedroom.

Ultimately, ‘The Glass Castle’ has multiple levels of significance – from representing human frailty and failure to showing hope against all odds. By exploring these themes through symbols like the glass castle, Jeanette Walls creates an emotionally charged narrative about resilience and perseverance despite life’s challenges. This poignant story speaks volumes about what we are capable of achieving when faced with adversity and serves as a reminder that no matter how difficult times may seem there is still room for optimism.

Q5.How Does The Glass Castle Reflect On Real-Life Issues?

A.The glass castle is a memoir by Jeannette Walls that reflects on real-life issues such as homelessness, poverty, family dynamics and resilience in the face of neglect. It tells the story of how she and her siblings were raised by their unconventional parents who moved often in search of greener pastures. Through this story, readers can gain insight into the harsh realities many people experience when faced with these problems:

  • Struggling to survive without basic necessities like shelter or food
  • Having to move frequently due to lack of stable housing
  • Being exposed to dangerous environments despite parental attempts at protection

At its core, The Glass Castle speaks volumes about the power of the human spirit in overcoming difficult circumstances. Despite being neglected and even mistreated during their childhoods, each one of Jeannette’s siblings was able to go on and find success in different areas such as academics or entrepreneurship. This showcases the resilience so many individuals have shown throughout history when dealing with poverty and hardship – an inspiring message for all those struggling against similar odds.

It also serves as a reminder that we should not take our families for granted; no matter what situations they may be going through, our loved ones are always worth investing time and effort into if we want them to succeed. Furthermore, it teaches us that everyone has something valuable to offer regardless of their life experiences. These lessons make The Glass Castle a powerful read both in terms of entertainment value and moral instruction.


In the end, Jeannette Walls’s Glass Castle shows how strength and resilience can develop out of seemingly impossible situations. The glass castle is a powerful symbol that speaks to the journey of all its characters – from Rose Mary and Rex Wall’s struggles with addiction, to Maureen’s desire for independence, to Jeannette’s search for identity and belonging. Just as a house made of glass would be vulnerable to destruction by nature or man, so too are these characters in their own lives – but like the glass castle still standing at the end of it all, they find ways to survive against all odds.

The story of the walls family brings us into an intimate understanding of what it means to be human; our need for both stability and freedom in order to live meaningful lives. It reminds us that even when we feel lost or broken beyond repair, hope lies within our ability to make something beautiful out of whatever life throws at us. Like a phoenix rising from its ashes, we have potential within ourselves if only we choose not give up on ourselves and each other.

The Glass Castle is more than just a story about a struggling family; it is a metaphor for transformation and growth through adversity. It teaches us that no matter how difficult life gets, there will always be room for courage and love – two essential ingredients needed in order build our own glass castles where dreams can come true.