Jeannette Walls, the author of the novel The Glass Castle, writes about how hard life can be with scarce money and negligent parents. She grows up in a poverty-stricken town, left to fend for herself. Walls uses the story of her childhood hardships to indicate that perseverance and hard work can lead to success.
Jeannette learns from a young age that not doing something because everyone else tells you it is pointless is not an excuse. She has had enough with her poverty-stricken life and is set on “getting on the next bus out of here. “If the bus stops running, I’ll hitchhike. I’ll walk if I have to” (Walls 238). This type of determination is what led her out of Welch and into a new lifestyle free from her parents. Her family situation has gotten out of control, and Jeannette wants to be free and start a new life in New York, which she can only do by severing all ties with her parents. As Jeannette grew up, she realized that her parents were only holding her back from getting the life she deserved. Her mother is upset at Jeannette because “you get to go to New York and I’m stuck here. It’s not fair” (Walls 237). Her mother is jealous of her success and does not want her daughter to have a more prosperous life than she does. Rose Mary regrets the costly decisions she has made and is taking it out on Jeannette. She does not want the responsibility of having a family, which is one of the main reasons their family is so dysfunctional.
Jeannette demonstrates that hard work leads to success. Rose Mary states that Jeannette “never had much going for you except that you always worked hard” (Walls 270). Jeannette believed in herself enough to put in an effort and not follow her parent’s footsteps. Because Rex and Rose Mary were careless, Jeannette believed that if she ended up like her parents, she would be considered a failure. To end up successful, Jeannette behaved the opposite of her parents, which is how she turned out to prosper. Even for small things, Jeannette is adamant that she will get her family to stop being outcasts in the town. Jeannette says that she “knew that the can of yellow paint would sit on the porch unless… undertook the job” (Walls 158). Jeannette wants to feel accepted in Welch but finds herself alienated as a result of her family’s poverty. She is willing to take any measure to fit in, even if it means altering the look of her home. This is why she lies about her parents’ true identities later in the novel; she is ashamed of her roots and wants to reinvent herself.
There are many factors to consider on how to be successful. Some are integrity and optimism. Jeannette shows integrity when she steals a watch from work, but immediately feels guilty and returns it. This reveals that her heart is pure, and she wants to achieve all her accomplishments honestly. Walls uses integrity and optimism to outline methods of success.
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