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The book The Glass Castle written by Walls Jeannette is a memoir of her life. It narrates the terrible childhood life Jeannette experienced when brought up by parents who were selfish, alcoholic and manipulative. With her other siblings, they were forced to look after themselves by clothing, protecting and feeding each other. One of Jeannette’s memories is when her dress got on fire while cooking hot dogs at the age of three. This made her family wander searching for a safety place where they could all live. Unfortunately, Jeannette’s parents messed up this since her father was unable to remain sober, and her mother did not accept the responsibility of taking care of four children alone. Therefore, the four children of walls had to raise themselves productively despite the dire poverty they faced. The childhood life of Jeannette was full of hunger, poverty, neglect, sexual abuse and unhygienic living conditions. This paper describes the theme of poverty in this memoir (Walls, 2005).
When the book begins, the writer is seen watching her mother searching food in a dumpster since they had nothing to eat. They did not have the money to buy food because of the poor conditions they were living in. This situation whereby they lacked food made their appearances change because they lacked proper nutrition. Their clothes were also torn, and they could not buy other clothes since they did not have the money. Jeannette’s mother is seen in the book struggling to find a place where they can spend the every night. They travel constantly all over US trying to look for food and shelter, but all was in vain. However, this helped these children learn how to provide for themselves, sometimes taking parents’ role as providers of the family. This shows how poverty changed the environment of these children whereby the role of parents as providers to children is not fulfilled, and children are left to look after themselves.
Poverty has also denied Jeannette do some things such as watching and other recreational activity. She experiences such life while in the hospital after she survived the fire tragedy. Due to poverty, her family had to share house chores whereby Jeannette’s mother worked as a painter, and Jeannette was left cooking at home. It was at this time that Jeannette’s dress got fire while cooking some hot dogs. A neighbor took her to the hospital, and nurses were wondering why a young girl had been allowed to cook. In the hospital, Jeannette likes hospital life since she could access new things such as TV, sleep in her own room, chew chewing gum, and never lacked food. All these were new to her since her parents could not provide for her due to lack of resources. The book shows how Jeannette wants to stay in the hospital and never go back home since life was more comfortable compared to the life of struggle at home (Walls, 2005).
The memoir also shows how poverty effects to hatred whereby people used food stamps and others stole from neighbors. The book shows how Erma, Jeannette’s mother hate the residents since they are black. People are fighting too as a way of venting their frustrations of what life has given them. In Welch, many people used food stamps since the town was poor and could not afford to buy food. The poverty people are facing also makes people turn to thieves. For instance, when Rex, Jeannette’s father, bought bikes for his children they are stolen by their neighbors without any reason and later sell them in order to get money that can make them survive. This implies how poverty led to insecurity to the environment where Jeannette was living. This was not conducive to children growth since they can adapt bad behaviors such as stealing (Walls, 2005).
In conclusion, it is clear that the memoir The Glass Castle describes poverty as one of the problems that faced the Jeannette, main character, which in turn had negative impacts in her life. Therefore, poverty is one of the major themes in this memoir that describes the miserable life of the author.