Essays on The Glass Castle

Essay Introduction

“Listen to the desires of your children. Encourage them and then give them the autonomy to make their own decision,” said Denis Waitley. Rose Mary Walls always allowed her children to dream and dream big. The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls, is an outstanding memoir that follows the lives of a dysfunctional yet loyal family. Rose Mary and Rex Walls raised four beautiful children, Lori, Jeannette, Brian, and Maureen. Rose Mary was a painter with a background in education. She can be described as a static character because she remains the same throughout the entirety of the book. She was the definition of optimistic. Rose Mary occasionally was a positive figure in her children’s lives. However, she did create an even bigger negative impact on them. Rose Mary is characterized as a selfish, neglectful, and irresponsible mother.

Research Paper on The Glass Castle

Rose Mary never failed to look at the positive side of life. She was very open-minded. When they moved to Welch, they were staying with Erma and the rest of Rex’s family. The children quickly grew to dislike Erma for her malicious demeanor. When the children told their mother, Rose Mary told them they should never hate anyone. “Everyone has something good about them,” she said. “You have to find the redeeming quality and love the person for that.” (Walls pg. 144) That is a significant life lesson many people do not learn.

Through all the difficulties they faced, Rose Mary was sure to find something valuable from it. Her optimism was what kept her alive and going through all the years. “It’s the Joshua tree’s struggle that gives it its beauty,” Rose Mary told Jeannette. (Walls pg. 38) This is another valuable lesson. The Joshua tree symbolizes the strength and beauty that can arise from dysfunction. It shows the children that they are only growing stronger from their struggles. Rose Mary always tried to teach her children. They were intelligent, so she gave them the knowledge she had. She knew that was something they would always have with them no matter what.

Argumentative Essay Examples on The Glass Castle

There is no definition of what a good parent is. If someone is asked to describe the qualities of an adequate caretaker, selfishness is never on the list. That is one of Rose Mary’s biggest flaws. She was self-centered and did not pay much attention to her children’s well-being. Usually, a good parent would do anything to properly feed their children. Rose Mary was aware of the lack of food the children were missing. They were all starving. On time, the children found their mother eating behind their backs. Walls wrote, “Lying on the mattress next to mom was one of those huge family-sized Hershey chocolate bars, the shiny silver wrapper pulled back and torn away.” (Walls pg. 174)

She preferred to put food in her own mouth before the mouths of her kids. Why did she not just share with them? Rose Mary blamed it on her sugar addiction and told them to forgive her. She prioritized herself over them, and they saw that. Towards the end of the memoir, Rose Mary says, “I’ve spent my life taking care of other people … Now it’s time to take care of me.” (Walls pg. 258) This signifies how selfish she has been her entire life. In reality, she has only spent about five hours caring for someone other than herself. Her children learned that they had to fend for themselves. As they grew, they understood that was just how she would always be. She lives in a world where everything revolves around her.

Thesis Statement for The Glass Castle

Rose Mary was a painter, truly one of her biggest passions. Sadly, neglect came along with it. This is seen right off the bat at the beginning, with one of Jeannette’s first memories. She burned herself cooking hotdogs. Why was she alone? When the nurses questioned Jeannette, she told them, “Mom says I’m mature for my age … and she lets me cook for myself a lot.” (Walls pg. 11) Rose Mary was in the other room painting. Who leaves a three-year-old alone? Who allows three-year-olds to cook for themselves? That is beyond irresponsible! Rose Mary neglected her children and always tried to find an excuse for it.

In this situation, she tells Jeannette she is mature, but that justifies nothing. In reality, that could have been avoided if Rose Mary had merely been there paying attention to her daughter. She never provided for her family. She expected the children to fend for themselves when they were only supposed to be children. They were supposed to play with other children and live a normal life. The negligence of Rose Mary was so cruel to the point that her own children became ashamed of her. Jeannette starts the memoir by sharing a time when she saw her mother on the streets of New York. Jeannette did not stop to say hello. Instead, she wrote, “I was overcome with panic that she’d see me and call out my name…” (Walls pg. 3) Rose Mary ignored the fact that the children needed motherly love and protection. She subjected her family to a life far from ordinary and something the kids did not deserve.


Every parent has the duty to provide his or her children with the basic necessities of life, including food, clothing, and shelter. Rex and Rose Mary were irresponsible parents. They failed to present these necessities to their children. Rex would disappear most of the time, leaving the responsibility to Rose Mary. However, it was as if she was not there half the time. The children were always starving. Jeannette described multiple times when she had to dig through trash cans at school to have something to eat. (Walls pg. 171) Rose Mary had the credentials to teach, so the kids encouraged her to become a teacher. When she had the job, she struggled to keep up. The children would constantly nag her to get up for work. Jeannette wrote, “Miss Beatty threatened to fire Mom, so Lori, Brian, and I started helping Mom with her schoolwork.” (Walls pg. 74)

However, even with the job, they struggled to make ends meet. Rose Mary is very passive and allows Rex to manipulate her. He constantly lost money to alcohol and his gambling addiction. Sooner or later, they were back to where they started. Rose Mary always tried to excuse everything. They kept moving from place to place and never settled or made friends. She said she loved the excitement, but it was just being irresponsible. It was her responsibility to be tender as a mother and not leave the children like wild animals, living away from real life and happiness.


Rose Mary is a free-spirited woman. She does not like to be weighed with the responsibility of taking care of her family. This impacts her children greatly. She contributes some positive aspects, yet also creates more struggles for them as well. She is selfish, irresponsible, and neglectful. The children are left to look after themselves. They struggle to provide themselves with the basic necessities that their parents should be providing. They cloth, feed and protect themselves. Rose Mary felt her children were a burden. If it were up to her, she would spend her entire life painting. Rose Mary taught her children a lot about life yet did not provide them with affection and a nurturing heart. She believed she was making them stronger by putting them face to face with struggle. In the end, her children did not hold a grudge against her. They loved her for who she was.

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