The Glass Castle By Jeannette Walls Summary and Analysis Part 5: Thanksgiving

Summary

Jeannette and her new husband, John, wait at a train station for Lori and Mom to arrive. Jeannette and John have bought a country farmhouse and John suggested inviting her family for Thanksgiving dinner. Dad has been dead for five years and the family has not been together since.

John and Jeannette drive Lori and Mom to the farmhouse, where Brian and his eight-year-old daughter and John's teenage daughter wait. They tour the yard and house, and Mom admires the work John and Jeannette have put into the place.

They all sit down to dinner. Mom says Maureen might be coming in for a visit from California. They reminisce about Dad and raise a toast to him, which Jeannette knows he would have appreciated.

Analysis

In this final section, Walls depicts her family and suggests that they will always remain somewhere between "turbulence and order," which adds to the theme of stability versus instability. Turbulence remains in a couple of ways. First, Brian is unable to completely forgive his parents for their choices. When he sees the Thanksgiving food, and thinks about his own adulthood, he suggests that it is not that hard to get food on the table, exposing his lingering resentment over his parents' choices. Jeannette tells him to let it go and, in doing so, exposes the key way the family survives and remains in touch: by letting go of the bad and celebrating the good.

Turbulence also is apparent in Maureen's absence from the dinner. Of all the children, Maureen seems to be the one most damaged by her parents' choices, even though as a child she found others to take care of her. It is unclear what her life is like in California, but her long absence from the family suggests she has learned something about independence.

Finally, order coexists with turbulence in a number of ways. First, most of the family is able to gather and enjoy each other's company. Secondly, the family is able to remember Dad fondly and raise a toast to him. Through the toast, Walls indicates that the entire family has found peace with Dad. Therefore, everyone is able, on some level, to celebrate his vivacity and free-spirited ways while letting go of the alcoholism that plagued him and eventually killed him.

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