The Glass Castle By Jeannette Walls Summary and Analysis Part 4: New York City Sections 11-13

Summary

While Brian succeeds at achieving his dream of becoming a police officer, Lori finds success as an illustrator, and Jeannette blossoms as a writer, Maureen remains adrift. She moves in with Mom and Dad after high school, unable to care for herself. After a few months, Mom tells her to move out; Maureen stabs her and is sentenced to a year in a state mental institution. The entire family comes to her hearing and argues about where to put the blame on Maureen's state. The blowout argument makes it difficult for them to see each other much and the family drifts further apart.

After a long stretch, Jeannette gets a call from Dad to visit him — and to bring him some vodka while she is at it. She agrees, somewhat reluctantly. After arriving at Mom and Dad's apartment, Dad tells her he is dying. They chat for awhile about old times and Jeannette realizes that, through it all, her Dad has always loved her deeply, even if his choices hurt her at times.

A couple weeks later, Dad has a heart attack and dies in the hospital. Dad's death forces Jeannette to examine her life and she eventually leaves Eric and moves away from Park Avenue to the West Side.

Analysis

With Dad's death, Jeannette comes to terms with both her relationship to her father and her sense of self. First, Jeannette is forced to grapple with her relationship with her father when he requests she bring him vodka. She sees this as a poorly veiled attempt to manipulate her. When she discusses the request with Mom, however, Mom reminds her it is too late to change Dad so why not appease him? This discussion foreshadows Jeannette's ability to come to peace with Dad.

Dad and Jeannette's meeting also indicates a new peace forming between the two. For instance, when the topic of the Glass Castle comes up, instead of reminding Dad he will never build it, Jeannette stresses how much fun planning it was. In doing so, Jeannette exhibits more compassion and maturity than she did as a teenager, furious with her father's flaws. Thus, through their last talk together, Jeannette and Dad are able to hang on to their love and put aside their differences.

After Dad's death Jeannette is forced to examine her own life, particularly her marriage. She comes to realize that marrying someone who was the opposite of her father did not honor what she loved in her father and thus what she loved in herself — her fierce independence, her wild hopes. By divorcing Eric and moving to a different part of the city, Jeannette is finally able to reconcile who she was with who she has become.

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