Like Broken Glass...

Amber Freeman

Journal Entry One

A) What impression of Jeannette's mother do you get in the first section(pp. 3-5)? Why do you think she chooses to begin the memoir with this encounter?

You get the impression most people get of homeless people. Her mother is described in a way that we see her as dirty, we are told she is dark with dark, and her hair is unkempt and extremely matted. We are also told that her clothes are ragged, dirty and torn even.

I think she began the memoir with this encounter because it was her way of setting the story instead of just starting with her first memories. This gives the book somewhat of a flashback feel. She started at the present then when to her first memories.


B) How do Jeannette’s parents explain the “Skedaddle”? How do they justify all the moves? What are Jeannette’s and her siblings’ reactions to constantly moving?

Skedaddle was Jeannette's way of explaining they moved a lot. Every time her parents would get caught up by the law they would move again. Her parents did care what was going on in the kid's life, they would just up and move. They always moved in the middle of the night, I think to make sure no one knew.

Jeannette’s father said that the FBI was following him. Her mother said they simply stopped paying the bill and it caught up to them. Her mother also said that her father was stretching the truth about the matter of moving. The kids didn’t like moving. Jeannette left her doll and wanted to go get and her dad wouldn’t let her, and she was upset. Her dad also threw out her cat which upset her. Her brother thought he would get rid of the dog also, which upset him. Jeannette also mentions having to make new friends everywhere she went, but she would never became close friends because she knew she would just move again soon.


C) Describe a memory you have of moving, whether it was moving homes, schools, or even room. What kind of impact or significance did the move have on you?

When I was in 5th grade I moved schools, from Stemley Elementary School to Childersburg Middle School. I was old enough to go to Childersburg Middle School, so me and my older brother changed schools. My brother was actually the one changing school, but they wouldn't let me stay at Stemley, which at the time i was to young to understand why. So I came to the new school in 5th grade, and I don’t remember much of what happened, as far as being the “new kid”

This moved impacted my life the most by placing a new large distance between me and kids I’ve known since preschool. All my friends I went to school with for half of my life, people that I then thought i would know my whole life, some people that were my best friends that I thought we were inseparable, I haven’t talked to since I changed school. Actually the only person I have talked to since the school change is Chasity Jenkins and that’s only because I saw her at one of the Talladega Band Director's Association events, she actually didn’t even remember me because it was 4 years since we talked.

Journal Entry Two

A) How does the following passage epitomize the Walls’ lifestyle and demonstrate Jeannette’s tolerant and understanding character? How does the Swimming even compare to the fire incident on P.6?


“I staggered out of the water and sat on the calcified rocks, my chest heaving. Dad came out of the water, too, and tried to hug me, but I wouldn’t have anything to do with him, or with Mom, who’d been floating on her back as if nothing were happening , or with Brian and Lori who gathered around and were congratulating me. Dad kept telling me that he loved me, that he never would have let me drown, but you can’t cling to the side your whole life, that one lesson every parent needs to teach a child is ‘ if you don’t want to sink, you better figure out how to swim.’ What other reason, he asked, would possibly make him do this? Once I got my breath back, I figured he must be right. There was no other way to explain it” (66)


The passage epitomizes the Walls’ lifestyle by showing how harsh the parents were on the kids and also show that they thought they were teaching the kids important life lessons the right way. Jeannette even explains that her dad said “ he would never let her drown, but she couldn’t cling to the side her whole life, that one lesson every parent needs to teach a child is ‘if you don’t want to sink, you better figure out how to swim’. Jeannette is said “I figure he’s must be right. There was no other way to explain it.”, and I believe this demonstrates her tolerant and understanding character because she rationalizes an irrational situation, and then states that her father was right by doing what he thought was right. This compares to the fire incident because in both examples the parents neglect Jeannette and thinks she should be stronger than any toddler should ever, in my opinion, have to be. After the fire Jeannette’s parent didn’t want her to wear bandages, and even took her from the hospital way before she was healed enough to leave. After almost drowning her dad told her that it was the only way to learn how to swim, and she could’ve easily died.


B) How does Jeannette describe her father in the beginning of the memoir? How does she express her trust in her father? Cite specific examples.


Jeannette describes her father as independent by telling us (the readers) on page 4 would insist that they didn’t need anything, and her mom would ask for something ridiculous. This proves that Jeannette’s father is independent by not wanting any financial aid from her daughter. Jeannette has tried countless times to help her mom and dad, and her father always turns down the offer, even though Jeannette is well off and can spare extra money for her parents. This expresses Jeannette's trust in her father by showing she would trust him to spend the money for something useful, like getting off the streets, or finding somewhere to live, or even buy some better clothes possibly, whereas her mother always wanted something ridiculous and would probably spend the money that Jeannette would give her on something ridiculous.

Journal Entry Three

How do the Walls siblings show loyalty towards each other? Cite specific examples. Despite her family’s support and loyalty, during which instances does Jeannette feel lonely?

Brian, Lori, and Jeannette show loyalty to each other by being there for each other when their parents weren’t. The siblings had to take care for each other, which included sticking up for each other like brian did when he knew girls from school were beating up Jeannette every afternoon, or simply give the others advice like we see many Lori do for Jannette many times.


How does the Christmas incident signify a turning point in Jeannette's life? does the event changed her perspective about her father?

The Christmas incident signifies a turning point in Jeannette’s life because she begins to drift was from her father. Before this incident she seemed to be the only one that still believed in her father, and after that she started to give up hope. This event changed her perspective about her father because she always believe he would do better, that he would stop drinking, that he would get a job, and somehow her would improve their lives. Instead she now realized that no matter how much she believed in him that it wouldn’t change anything, it would make him do better, it wouldn’t make him stop drinking, and it wouldn’t make him get a job.


How does the Walls’ life in Welch compare to Battle Mountain and Phoenix? In what way does Jeannette’s life in Welch shape her late childhood/early adolescence?

In Welch the Walls almost never had electricity, their house was broke down, and they had never been worse off. In Battle Mountain and Phoenix most of the time they had what they needed, and had a decent place to live. One big difference is that in Battle Mountain and Phoenix they were happy, they were more of a family, and they were always around each other. In Welch they were unhappy, they fought all the time, Rex was never home and when he was it was better if he wasn’t, and the kids started to drift apart too. Welch shaped her childhood and adolescence because it had a big impact in her life. She was exposed to new thing, that most kids will never be exposed to, things like sexual harassment, bullying, and extreme poverty. This made her grown up quicker and change, she had to try harder to fit in, and she had make her own decision on how to deal with school and home, as well as completely taking care of her and her siblings now.

Journal Entry Four

B. How do Jeannette and her siblings tolerate abuse? To what extent do you sympathize with her situation? Are her justifications (for her father’s behavior, her mother’s neglect, etc) valid or has she been taught to believe in a false reality.


Jeanette, Lori, and Brian tolerate abuse by banning together at taking care of each other. Jeanette started cooking for herself by age 3. She burned herself trying to cook hot dogs. There are many other cases in the book of how the kids took care of themselves and their siblings, helped each other, and tried to cope with the abuse and poverty they have been put through.


I sympathize with their situation because I don't believe any innocent child should have to be put through what Jeannette, Lori, and Brian have been put through. Child abuse, and neglect have a large effect on not only their childhood, but the adulthood of the child.


I think Jeannette I believe in a false reality because she doesn't know any other way of living. When you a raised one way and them introduced to a better way of living it can be hard to transition, because the other way is the only way you know.

Journal Entry Five

Jeannette’s job at the jewelry store allowed her a new found independence by giving her a chance to get out the house and giving her responsibility. By her getting out the house her father wasn’t around her much and he was the only authority she had. The job also allowed her to have an income which made her self-reliant, and leaving her not completely dependent on the income her mother left her during the summer.

Journalism allowed her independence from others that worked on the newspaper, and by relying on her own thoughts. Her independence for other on the newspaper is shown by her writing most of the paper and editing the final paper, before being copied. Her relying on her own thoughts proves to be independent by her being dependant on herself instead of dependant of others thoughts.

The first turning point in Jeanette’s life was moving into her mom’s inherited house. That move was the first time Jeanett had ever been happy, and it for a little while showed her that life could be better than what she had been living with her family so far. The move to New York symbolize a second turning point in Jeannette's life because she was starting a new life. She started over, no one knew her, or her parents, or how she lived. She left the life she was ashamed of in the past looking forward to the new unwritten future. She knew that whatever happened after she got out of Welch she could control. Also knowing that if she didn’t get out of Welch she would never get away from her parents, and she would be living a dull, and poor life until she died, unless she changed the situation, which happened to be her way out - New York.

This is a justifiable move for Jeannette because it is an improvement on her life. The “skedaddle” is a abrupte moving usually because the family couldn’t pay bills, people came to collect money the family didn’t have, Rex Walls continuously lost jobs, and the children constantly got in trouble getting into fights. Jeanette’s life in New York would be more in place, she would be moving contently, she would have a good place to live, she could start making a life for herself. In New York she could be well off, own a permanent place to live, and have a income of her own, the opposite of what was happening in her life when a “skedaddle” happening. This proved to be true because she live well of in New York for years to come after the first move, without moving except to move to a better house in a different part of the city.

I think Jeannette’s parent continued to live on the streets because it was all they knew before. After years of being homeless, or living in their car, or barely scraping by in life, they learned to deal with it. They also believe that they were keeping their morals by not taking money for their kids. In the book it also points out Jeannette’s mom stating the Jeannette’s dad might be upset because him being the dad he was supposed to be taking care of his kids not the other way around. So with that from the text I've concluded that he father wasn’t full of pride, but instead he was ashamed because for the first time he realized that he didn’t take care of his family life he should have been all of his children's lives. His children being grown I believe proved to him that all Jeannette’s life she has been trying to take care of her father, trying to get him to stop drinking, getting a job to have money to feed Brian, getting her mom to go to work every single day she had a job.

Maureen stabbed Rose Mary because Rose Mary insisted that Maureen should move out. Rose Mary decided it was time for Maureen to develop a little self-sufficiency by movie out and finding a place of her own. Rosy Mary told her what she told all her kids “God helps those who help themselves”. And it was for her own good, she would have to leave the nest and make her way in the world. Maureen was mad, and already suspected of going crazy and she snapped, stabbing her mother, out of what I think was rage and anger.

Jeannette was thinking to herself, the day Maureen left for California, “I’m sorry, Maureen, sorry for everything”. Jeanette made a promise to Maureen when she was born, she promised to always protect her. Jeannette moved to New York leaving her sister in Welch. After than when her sister came to New York she didn’t take her in, Lori did. The whole time she Maureen was in New York Jeanette had been trying to take care of her, she didn’t see her much and never helped her in anyways except for some advice here and there occasionally. All and all Jeannette didn’t keep her promise of protecting Maureen. This along with Jeannette, Lori, and Brian being close to each other, and not Maureen, showing early signs of problems, could have been the cause of Maureen snapping, and going “crazy”.

Child neglect is defined as a type of maltreatment related to the failure to provide needed, age-appropriate care. Unlike physical and sexual abuse, neglect is usually typified by an ongoing pattern of inadequate care and is readily observed by individuals in close contact with the child.

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