The Glass Castle – Assignment #1
Provide responses to the following questions. Be sure to include examples (including
page numbers) from the text.
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1. To what extent are Rose Mary and Rex Walls “unfit parents”? Comment on their
parenting styles. Would Jeannette and her siblings have been better off living in foster
care? Was it in the children’s best interest to grow up with their parents or would they
have been better off removed from the home?
2. Rose Mary Wells has a unique outlook on life which Jeanette outlines throughout the
book. We learn, for example, that her mom thinks “people worry too much about their
children” and believes that “suffering when you are young is good for you” (28). What
kind of person is her mom, based only on what she herself says?
3. The Wells children are by far more mature, responsible, reliable and sensible than their
parents. They protect and take care of themselves, each other, and even their parents. And
yet, according to the law they are underage, and therefore dependent on their parents. Is it
time to examine children’s rights? Should some children be granted more rights at an
4. On one hand Jeannette Walls describes the squalor she and her family lived in: hunger,
poverty, garbage, lack of basic necessities. On the other, she describes the rich
intellectual world her parents imparted: discussions of geology, math, literature, art. What
do you think is more important to children’s development: comfortable living conditions
or an enriching intellectual environment?
To what extent are rules necessary for children’s healthy development and to what extent
are they restricting and limiting? Are some rules “age appropriate”?
5. Read pp. 3-5 (opening scene of The Glass Castle) and discuss your assumptions about
success. How does Jeannette Well confirm or challenge these assumptions. For example,
look at questions: What is success? How does having advantages help someone be
successful? How does having challenges help someone be successful? Provide examples
of these challenges? Examples of advantages that help aid success?
6. Jeannette Walls offers a number of stories throughout the book. Comment on the
following, offering explanations as to what happened and why you believe she included
the particular event:
A. Billy Deel
B. Lori needing glasses
C. The scene at the zoo
D. Maureen needing clothes – mom shoplifting
E. The Christmas that “was supposed to be the best ever.”
F. The town of Welch
H. Dinitia Hewitt