The Glass Castle By Jeannette Walls Summary and Analysis Part 3: Welch Sections 25-26

Summary

In tenth grade, Jeannette becomes editor of the school paper; by junior year she is editor-in-chief and writing most of the paper because she has a hard time recruiting staff members. As editor-in-chief she gains some ground socially as other kids are willing to talk to her if it means they can get their names in the paper. A highlight of her career is interviewing Chuck Yeager, a famous Air Force pilot. Even Dad is excited by the project and coaches her through the process from coming up with questions to writing the actual article.

Lori writes happy letters back home. She is waiting tables and living in Greenwich Village and loves being surrounded by other quirky artists. Jeannette plans to apply to colleges in New York City and join Lori there after graduating from high school. However, her guidance counselor informs her that she will be considered as an out-of-state student, making both tuition higher and the chances of getting into a New York school slimmer. Jeannette starts to seriously consider leaving Welch at the end of her junior year in order to obtain in-state consideration by going to a New York high school her senior year. While Mom is jealous of her plan, she does not stop Jeannette. Dad is heartbroken and tries, one last time, to convince her to stay if he builds the Glass Castle. Nonetheless, Jeannette leaves town taking the morning bus out of Welch and to New York City.

Analysis

Jeannette's interactions with Mom and Dad underscore the progress she is making in taking control of her life and achieving her goal of leaving Welch. First, in her conversation with Mom about leaving, Walls exposes, through Mom's dialogue, Mom's true feelings about the family and Jeannette. Mom is not going to miss Jeannette; she is only jealous that Jeannette gets to leave and she doesn't. Shortly following, Mom refuses to see Jeannette off by calling goodbyes "sentimental." Through these exchanges, Mom's selfishness overtakes any of her motherly sensibilities, for she sees that her children are old enough to fend for themselves and no longer feels pressured to try to mother them anymore. For Jeannette, Mom's behavior serves as further proof that she, Jeannette, needs to take care of her own life because no one will do it for her.

Dad, however, remains sentimental and is heart-broken by Jeannette's decision to leave. He tries one last time to keep her as an ally by suggesting he will build the Glass Castle, and give her a larger room. Jeannette is no longer able to play along and, instead of coddling Dad, tells him he will never build the Glass Castle. Dad, as usual when faced with his own flaws, goes out for a drink. In the end though, Dad sees the best parts of himself in Jeannette and walks her to the bus station, giving her a pocketknife for good luck. In this scene, Walls shows that Dad no longer sees Jeannette as his little supporter but as a stand-in for himself — she is leaving Welch as he once did and, perhaps, he hopes she has more success in doing so than he has had.

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