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Glass Castle Essay Test

  • 1

    Discuss the role of fire in the novel.

    After Jeannette is burned the first time fire continues to appear in the work. It burns down a number of houses and harms some of the characters. Jeannette believes that the fires might all be connected. Jeannette describes fire as a sort of character itself.

  • 2

    How does Jeannette characterize her parents? What is her tone towards them and their actions?

    Jeannette describes her parents' faults and shortcomings but she does not condemn them for their actions. Indeed, by the novel’s end she appears to have come to an understanding about their way of living. The goal of the work is not to insult or vilify her parents but, in a way, to honor them.

  • 3

    Why does Jeannette choose to title the book The Glass Castle even though the structure is never built?

    The glass castle characterizes Rex Walls’ need to create a life of fantasy and adventure for his family in the absence of stability and practicality. Its construction is consistently delayed in the work, but that which it represents endures. Jeannette’s memoir is, in part, an erection of this fabled structure. In writing, she takes one step towards fulfilling her father’s promise.

  • 4

    Explain the role of nature and the attitudes taken toward it in the memoir?

    Without the amenities of modern life, the Walls family is frequently in awe of the beauty of nature. Especially while living in the Midwest, nature becomes a sort of home for the Walls. Rose Mary Walls also instills within her children an appreciation for animals and nature by refusing to kill or harm it with modern technology.

  • 5

    What about Jeannette’s experience is atypical of general ideas about American poverty? Why do you think Jeannette includes these examples?

    For much of the work, Jeannette and her family live in conditions characteristic of poverty. However, Jeannette’s experience also includes rigorous homeschooling from her parents and exposure to classic literature. Despite her conditions, she and her siblings are often placed in the gifted classes in school. In showing that her parents, though poor, were not unintelligent, Jeannette proposes an often undetailed view of America’s impoverished.

  • 6

    Discuss the role of setting in the novel? How does the theme of the work change when the setting changes?

    Setting is clearly an important part of the work. Indeed, two sections of the novel are named after a particular environment. In addition, there is a clear shift in tone and plot when the Walls move from the desert to Welch, Virginia. Setting not only affects how the family must live but it also influences their hope for escaping poverty.

  • 7

    Compare Jeannette’s relationship with Brian and Lori to that between her and Maureen. Why are there differences?

    Jeannette and her siblings depend on each other for survival. Jeannette and Brian pair together when faced by bullies from outside. Although Lori and Brian differ from Jeannette in their early loss of hope in Rex. Maureen exists as a sort of “black sheep” in the family. Not only does she not have red hair, but she seldom spends time with the family and instead relies on others to care for her. For this reason, Jeannette considers Maureen in need of more protection than the rest of her siblings.

  • 8

    Describe the structure of the memoir. Why does Walls decide to frame her story with her adulthood before reflecting on her childhood?

    Jeannette begins her story by describing her motivation for writing it. Her mother’s urgings that she not hide from her past anymore prompt Jeannette to begin telling her story. Because shame once inhibited her from sharing her story, she begins by describing that which gave her the courage to write it down.

  • 9

    Discuss Rose Mary Walls' role as a mother.

    Rose Mary Walls commonly seems focused on her aims alone. She loses or quits jobs in order to pursue her profitless career as an artist even at times when her family needs her salary for basic necessities. At times, Rose Mary behaves more like a child than her children, throwing tantrums, refusing to go to work, and creating excuses.

  • 10

    Rex Walls frequently makes up fantastical stories to create a life of excitement out of his circumstances. Is this deceitful? In what ways can these stories be seen as an attempt to shield the family from the truth?

    Rex Walls tends to create fantastical explanations to keep his children from considering themselves lesser than others because of their lack of money. When the children are young, this seems harmless. He gives them stars for Christmas instead of gifts and makes life an adventure by telling them they are being chased. However, as the children grow older, Rex’s stories are used as a means to protect or excuse his behavior instead of as a means to shield his children from the reality of their condition.

  • Name: _________________________Period: ___________________

    This test consists of 15 multiple choice questions and 5 short answer questions.

    Multiple Choice Questions

    1. What does Jeannette plan to do after high school?
    (a) Take a job with the publication she interns for.
    (b) Go straight to college.
    (c) Travel the world.
    (d) Move back to Welch to be near her parents.

    2. Why do Jeannette's parents express concern over her living arrangement in New York?
    (a) They think that her apartment is too small.
    (b) They believe living in luxury will spoil her.
    (c) They don't like her roommate.
    (d) They are concerned for her safety.

    3. What does Brian's mother do with what Jeanette and Brian find while foraging in the woods?
    (a) She gives it as a gift to a friend.
    (b) She loses it before she can sell it.
    (c) She keeps it because it "raises her spirits".
    (d) She sells it to a neighbor for less than it is worth.

    4. How do Rose Mary and Rex react to the children's story about the incident between Erma and Brian?
    (a) They beat the children for lying.
    (b) They side with Erma, saying the children should have behaved better.
    (c) They pretend that they do not hear what the children are saying.
    (d) They are enraged at Erma.

    5. How does Jeannette help Dinitia's brother?
    (a) She chases away a dog that is bothering him.
    (b) She plays with him when his sister won't.
    (c) She shares some of her lunch when he is hungry.
    (d) She gives him her money to get a drink.

    6. How did the Walls family heat their home during the winter?
    (a) There is no way to heat the house.
    (b) They steal kerosene and coal from neighbors.
    (c) Rose Mary has the children gather wood to burn.
    (d) They have space heaters.

    7. What ends up happening to the hole the children dig in the backyard in Part 3?
    (a) It gets flooded and fills with mud during a heavy rain.
    (b) The kids use it as a hide out.
    (c) Their father ends up filling it in with empty beer bottles.
    (d) It gets filled with the family's trash when it begins to overflow.

    8. Where does Maureen spend most of her time during her adolescence?
    (a) Staying at her Grandpa's house.
    (b) With her teachers.
    (c) In her bedroom, alone.
    (d) At friends' houses.

    9. Why does Rex get upset about Maureen moving in with Lori?
    (a) He is jealous that Lori won't let him and Rose Mary move in with her.
    (b) He feels like Lori is stealing his family away.
    (c) He doesn't think Maureen will be safe in the city.
    (d) He wants Maureen to work and bring money to the family.

    10. What is Erma's reaction when the children tell their parents about the incident between her and Brian?
    (a) She kicks the entire family out of the house.
    (b) She says it is the truth but there is nothing wrong with what she did.
    (c) She says everyone but Brian can stay with her.
    (d) She breaks down and confesses to doing wrong.

    11. Why does Jeannette confront her mother and say she is acting like a child?
    (a) Because her mother has quit her job again.
    (b) Because her mother has been staying out late every night.
    (c) Her mother is angry at Lori and ignoring her.
    (d) Her mother has been spending money on gambling.

    12. Where does the Wall family move at the beginning of Part 3 of the book?
    (a) Phoenix.
    (b) Los Angeles, California.
    (c) Texas.
    (d) Welch, West Virginia.

    13. What does Rose Mary tell the kids when they complain about their living conditions?
    (a) That many people on their street have worse situations than theirs.
    (b) That they need to go out and get jobs to help the family.
    (c) That if they are unhappy they should leave.
    (d) That they are very lucky that they have their siblings.

    14. What does Brian do when some neighborhood kids break out a window in the house?
    (a) He chases after them and throws rocks at them.
    (b) He sits on the porch and cries.
    (c) He tells his father, who goes to talk to the other parents.
    (d) He ignores them.

    15. How does Jeannette's grandparents feel about her relationship with Dinitia?
    (a) They're friends with Dinitia's parents and enjoy having her around.
    (b) They are glad Jeannette has found a friend.
    (c) They don't like it because Dinitia is black.
    (d) They dislike Dinitia because they once had a a feud with her parents.

    Short Answer Questions

    1. Who is Ginnie Sue?

    2. How does Erma differ from Grandma Smith?

    3. What does Jeannette do about her schooling when she moves to New York?

    4. What is the children's sleeping arrangement in their new home in Part 3?

    5. What does Rex tell Jeannette when he takes her to the bus station in Part 3?

    (see the answer keys)

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