The Walls' Street Journal
By: Makenzie Wilson
Glass Castle Journals
- 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?Jeannette’s mother comes across as a strong willed person who cares about her daughter, as well as her daughter’s opinion. Jeannette’s mother speaks to Jeannette in the Chinese restaurant as if they speak to each other everyday, even though they don’t. It is obvious that Jeannette’s mother cares about her, though, because they do keep in contact with each other through a friend. Her mom wants to keep that connection with her daughter to make sure that she is alright and just to keep up with what’s going on in her life. A small gesture that Jeannette’s mother made to hint that she cares about her daughter’s opinion was when she washed her face and put on nicer clothes to meet Jeannette in the restaurant. She seems like the hard-headed independent type who does not want help financially, even if she may need it. Jeannette’s mom refuses to take financial help from her daughter, even though she lives on the street. She swears that she and her husband are absolutely fine with their unstable living condition and she doesn’t seem to like Jeannette worrying about her needing money or help. She also comes off as a bit shameless of her lifestyle when she tells Jeannette to tell people the truth about her living situation. She is aware that being homeless doesn’t seem normal and okay to some people, but she doesn’t see a point in being secretive and ashamed of something like that. I think Jeannette included this scene with her mother in the memoir because it shows that her mother was strong and independent. It shows that her mother lives how she wants to live and the opinions of others don’t sway her. She has a unique way of living and she is okay with that. This scene also shows that Jeannette worries about her parents. She worries about where they’re going to sleep, what they’re going to eat, and what dangers they may encounter. She wants to help her parents make better lives for themselves, but they won’t let her help.
- How do Jeannette’s parents explain the “skedaddle?” How do they justify all the moves? What are Jeannette and her siblings’ reactions to constantly moving? The “skedaddle” was when Jeannette’s family moved. They would pack up everything that was essential to their family’s survival and leave town in the middle of the night. Her dad told the family that there was someone looking for them, or that something had come up and they needed to move again. They drove until they found a house for rent in a secluded area where they felt they would be safe and isolated. Jeannette and Lori tried to count how many times they had moved in their lifetimes and they lost count. They lived in some places for a night and some for months, but they always had to be ready to leave. One time they left, the cat didn’t like being in the car, so Jeannette’s dad threw the cat out onto the road and left it behind. When Jeannette accidentally fell out of the car, she thought her family was going to leave her behind, like they did the cat.
- Describe a memory you have of moving, whether it was moving homes, schools, or even rooms. What kind of impact of significance did the move have on you? I have never moved houses or schools. I moved rooms when my brothers moved out, but that’s about it. It was weird getting used to walking back to that new room at night. It took a little while to get used to. My family is in the process of moving right now. We found the house we want and the land we want it on, we just have to finish paying on it and it will be ours, hopefully by summer. I’ve heard that it’s stressful moving houses and it’s kind of scary to think about. If getting used to being across the hallway in a new room was difficult, moving across the city to a new house will be much harder to get used to. I have lived in the same house since I was born, so I can’t really imagine living somewhere else, let alone moving so many times that I lose count of the places and don’t remember what the houses look like. I also couldn’t imagine leaving behind pets, friends, and family every time I would have to switch homes.
- How does the following passage epitomize the Walls’ lifestyle and demonstrate Jeannette’s tolerant and understanding character? How does the swimming event compare to the fire incident on p. 9? The Walls live a carefree, dangerous lifestyle and Jeannette has become accustomed to it. When the family traveled to the Hot Pot, a natural spring that several people had died in before, Jeannette’s father decided that Jeannette needed to learn how to swim. He let go of her in the middle of the spring, leaving her to flail and choke on dirty water until she was rescued by the man who dropped her into the bottomless pit. After she coughed up the warm water and caught her breath, he tossed his helpless daughter back into the middle of the spring without warning. She sank into the water again, breathing in water and reaching for her father, who in turn pushed farther away from her until he thought she had had enough. After he pulled her out and let her catch her breath, he tossed her back in again. He continued this ruthless routine until she finally saw that he wasn’t going to give her a break. She flailed and kicked away from him until she reached the surface on her own. When she finally got out of the water, choking on the water in her lungs, her family congratulated her on fighting off a watery death. All the while, Jeannette’s mother was floating in the water as if the scene in front of her was nothing to fret about. This perfectly showcases the carelessness of the Walls family and shows the danger that the parents put their children in. The children, however, have grown up with this sort of treatment and have learned to accept it, probably in the same way they learned how to swim - out of fear. Jeannette’s father, with his unorthodox style of parenting, is no better or worse than Jeannette’s mother who, for the second time, seems very passive of a dire situation. On page nine, when Jeannette was cooking for herself and caught on fire, her mother came to the rescue with a blanket to suffocate the flames, but she calmly explained the incident to her neighbor when they needed a ride to the hospital. Her mother seems unfazed by very serious and life threatening events. She didn’t overreact, or even normally react, to either of these events where Jeannette could have burned to death or drowned. Neither of these incidents seemed to shake her at all, even though her child was in very much danger. Her father tried to push the issues away by running away from the hospital so that Jeanette would forget that she needed medical attention after the fire, then by telling her that he would never let her drown, when he was the one who kept throwing her into the water at the Hot Spot. Her brother and sister, of course, were just as used to this border line abusive style of parenting and didn’t know what else to do, other than pass off what their parents did as ‘fundamental’ and ‘acceptable.’
- How does Jeannette describe her father in the beginning of the memoir? How does she express her trust in her father? Cite specific examples. In the beginning of the memoir, it is obvious that Jeannette thinks of her father as a strong, smart man that she can trust to protect her. When she goes to the hospital for her burns, Jeannette’s father asked her if everyone was treating her alright in the hospital and when she told him yes, she said he responded with, “If they were not, he said, he would kick some asses” (8). She thinks he is smart when he tells her the story about taking Lori to a witch-doctor instead of a hospital to heal her leg from the scorpion’s sting. Jeannette’s father showed his protective side when he threatened the doctor. Jeannette said, “He told the doctor that I was going to be scarred for life because of him, but, by God, I wasn't the only one who was going to walk out of there scarred” (8). She trusts that her father is always going to protect her and when he comes back to the hospital on page nine, he even tells her to trust him before they leave the hospital and move away again.
- How do the Walls siblings show loyalty toward each other? Cite specific examples. Despite her family’s support and loyalty, during which instances does Jeannette feel lonely? When the Walls family lived in their grandmother’s house in Phoenix, they left the doors and windows open to ventilate the house at night. One night, a man wandered into the house and molested Jeannette. When she screamed at the man, her brother ran into the bedroom with a hatchet to attack the man who harmed his sister. This act proved that the Walls siblings are loyal to each other and willing to protect each other, even when their parents do not.
- How does the Christmas incident signify a turning point in Jeannette’s life? Does the event change her perspective about her father? After Christmas, Jeannette saw her father in a completely different light. Her dad was a drunk and he stocked up on booze just before Christmas, since he knew stores and bars would be closed Christmas day. He was so drunk during Christmas mass that he made a scene in the church, getting their whole family kicked out of church. When they got back home, he took the lighter he got for Christmas and set fire to the family’s Christmas tree. The whole family was in shock and spent the rest of Christmas depressed because Christmas was ruined. This incident proved to Jeannette that her father’s drinking issue was the reason for the unhappiness of the entire family. Jeannette wanted the drinking to stop, so on Christmas, she asked him for the gift she wanted more than anything. She asked him, “Do you think you could maybe stop drinking” (Walls 116)? She clearly understood that this was a big request, but she had already realized that if her father would stop drinking so much, her mother would be happier, and their family would have more money. Her father was shocked by the question, but seemed to take it seriously by locking himself in his room. He later found other habits, like reading, to keep his mind off of the alcohol. But when he disappeared after blowing out the engine of the car, he disappeared. He returned to the house drunk and viciously attacked Jeannette’s mother. This gave yet another example of his violent outburst when he was intoxicated, which Jeannette hoped would stop when he gave up drinking. Jeannette’s disappointment was apparent when she said, “After all he’d put himself through, I couldn’t believe Dad had gone back to the booze” (Walls 123).
- 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? Jeannette and her siblings were exposed to many more harsh experiences in Welsh than they were in Battle Mountain and Phoenix. In Battle Mountain and Phoenix, the Walls lived in the desert, in more isolation than they had in Welsh. Being around more people in Welsh, the children had to experience some things that were not so great about being around other humans. Jeannette was bullied at the school in Welsh by a group of black girls who didn’t like her and she was mocked by her teacher for being different. She was exposed to racism when she started helping one of the black girls with with her school work. Her dad’s mom, Erma, started using racial slurs and ridiculing black people in front of Jeannette. Jeannette told her, “You’re not supposed to use that word” (Walls 143). Erma was outraged and locked Jeannette in the basement without dinner. Jeannette and Brian were both put in remedial classes at the school in Welsh, but they had been in gifted classes in Phoenix. The family also experienced a big change in environment when moving to Welsh. In Welsh, they lived in the mountains, rather than the desert. The mountains were colder and got more rain than the dry, sandy places where they had preferred to live in before.
- Question B: How do Jeannette and her siblings tolerate abuse? To what extent do you sympathize with with her situation? Are her justifications (for her father’s behavior, her mother’s neglect, etc) valid or had she been taught to believe in a false reality? The Walls children are more of parents to themselves and each other than their own parents are to them. Rex and Rose Mary Walls were neglectful, pitiful, and unreliable. Rex Walls, Jeannette’s father, was a drunk who constantly lied and made excuses for his failures. He could never hold a steady job, but always promised his children a luxurious life in a Glass Castle that would never exist. He always made bogus excuses for why the family had to move, ranging from being chased by bill collectors to being watched by the FBI. On top of the phony excuses, Rex had a massive drinking problem which made his lies become more unbelievable and sometimes, he didn’t even need an excuse. One night, after the Walls’ financial situation had gotten so poorly that Jeannette was working to be able to provide for the family, Rex asked her for money. He asked for five dollars to buy beer and cigarettes. Jeannette commented, “That was two days’ worth of food” (209). He took advantage of his daughter’s pity and she reluctantly gave him the money. He continued to ask her for money. He asked her for five more dollars a few days later, then twenty dollars a few days after that. Jeannette was angry that her father would take money from her when she was the one who worked for it and tried to provide for the family while he was slacking. I would be angry, too, if I had an honest job and worked for my money, rather than stealing and lying, like Jeannette’s father. Later on, Rex invites Jeannette to go to the bar with him. At this bar, he does nothing to defend Jeannette when a man hit on her. Rex had no problem letting the man take Jeannette up to his apartment, where the man tried to have sex with Jeannette. When Jeannette left the man’s room and told her father about the man attacking her, Rex responded with, “I’m sure he just pawed you some” (213). After all this, Jeannette just bit her tongue, like she and her siblings have learned to do time and time again. If I were Jeannette in that situation, I definitely would have lashed out at my father for not protecting me and defending me as he should have. Even though this event, along with several others, shines light on how Rex Walls is an abusive, neglectful, and all around deadbeat, Jeannette’s mother is no better. Jeannette’s mother, Rose Mary Walls, is incredibly neglectful and irresponsible. When the Wallses had to go to Rex’s father’s house to shower one weekend, Jeannette’s Uncle Stanley tried to molest her, but when Jeannette reported this back to her mother, Rose Mary only asked if she was okay. When Jeannette said yes, her mother said, “Sexual assault is a crime of perception” (184). It should have become obvious to Jeannette in that moment that her mother did not care for her as much as she should. To tell a child that molestation or even attempted rape is okay if they are not hurt is completely unacceptable. When Jeannette and Brian found a diamond ring when venturing around their yard, they realize that that ring could bring them a lot of money. Jeannette figured that the family could have food, clothing, and pay the bills with the money they got from selling the ring. Jeannette and Brian showed the ring to their mother and she took it to have it upraised. She returned home with no money, but the ring displayed vainly upon her finger. Jeannette was nearly outraged, as she should be, and she said, “That ring could get us a lot of food” (186). Her mother replied, “But it could also improve my self esteem” (186). Rose Mary Walls cared more about her ego that about her children who lived more poorly than she did. She would rather people praise her for her two carat diamond ring than put food on the table for her family and provide clothing for her children. She neglects the basic needs of her children so that she can feel better about her reputation. She obviously resents her children and loathes having to take on the role of the mother - which Jeannette is definitely more suited for. This is apparent when Jeannette recalls these words from her mother’s pity party, “she could have been a famous artist by now, she yelled, if she hadn’t had children” (187). I do sympathize with Jeannette. She should be forced into the role of the mother when her own mother fails to take responsibility. She should not have to fund her father’s drunken binges. She should be taken care of by parents who will not neglect her and her basic needs. Her life is way harder than it ever should have been, thanks to her irresponsible, neglectful parents.
In what way do Jeannette's job at the jewelry store and her interest in journalism allow her independence? Jeannette’s job at the jewelry store was the first real job she had ever had. Not only did the job pay her forty dollars a week, but it got her out of the house. Working in the jewelry store got her away from her family for a while and took her mind off of the horrible poverty she lived in. She got to work in this wonderful place with “a humming air conditioner and buzzing fluorescent lights” (Walls 214). She got to see the happy people of Welch who were buying broaches for their mothers or shopping for engagement rings. But the best thing about her job was the independence she gained from it. When she started this job, she learned about setting goals for herself and saving money to pursue them. After setting the goal of moving to New York, she decided that she enjoyed Journalism and she said, “I was determined to become one” (Walls 235). She had dreams of getting out of Welch, the town that had nothing to offer her, and living a bigger, better life in New York. She was determined to reach them.
How does the move to New York symbolize a second turning point in Jeannette's life? Is this another "skedaddle" or a more justifiable move for Jeannette? Jeannette would not dream of doing the “skedaddle” from New York. She found work there and began her career of being a writer. She lived with Lori for a while before she was given the opportunity to live with a woman in exchange for babysitting. For the first time, Jeannette had a stable living situation. Even though she did move a few times in New York, she was never forced to move out of the state. She did not have to abandon all of her things and everything she knew to move house again, like she had to do constantly throughout her childhood. At one point, she even said, “I had a room now and I had a life, too, and there was no place in either one for Mom and Dad” (Walls 252). She enjoyed the basics of a home that did not scream ‘poverty!’ She called Brian to tell him about the apartment she lived in with Lori. She said, “He could share the living room with me - there was plenty of space for a second bed - the toilet flushed, and the ceiling never leaked” (Walls 249). She and Brian were both amazed by this because their family had been so used to leaking - sometimes pouring - roofs and make-shift restrooms. In Jeannette’s first home she was better off than she had been in any home she had been in through her entire childhood. Later on, when she moved in with Eric, she said, “My life with Eric was calm and predictable. I liked it that way…” (Walls 272). She liked not having to wonder how long it would be until she had to pack up her things and “skedaddle” again. She liked having a steady job and a reliable person to depend on when she needed. Jeannette’s decision to move to New York may have been the best decision she had ever made and she did not seem like she would ever want to leave it.
Why do you think Jeannette's parents choose to continue living on the streets, even after their children are grown? Jeannette’s parents needed to live on their own terms. They had tried living with Lori when they first moved to New York, but the tension was too overwhelming. Jeannette’s dad and Lori would get into screaming matches, which made the neighbors scream in aggravation. Then, Jeannette’s dad would yell at the neighbors, too. When Lori had had enough of their father, Brian offered to take him in, but Rex’s addiction to alcohol proved to be too much for Brian to handle. Brian tried to make a deal with Rex. If Rex stopped drinking, he could stay in the house. Rex kindly replied with, “You’re the king of your own castle, and that’s the way it should be. But it’ll be a chilly day in hell before I bow to my own son” (Walls 254). Lori was frustrated with their mom’s clutter of street junk and paintings, so she have their mom deadlines to have the clutter out of the apartment. The deadlines, of course, did not work on Rose Mary Walls. When their mother would not clean out her clutter from Lori’s apartment and when Lori realized that their dad would not stay away if their mom was still there, Lori decided to kick Rose Mary out. Eventually, when the van they were sleeping in got towed, Rex and Rose Mary were officially homeless. They insisted that they would be fine and that they could fend for themselves. They liked getting free food from churches and soup kitchens. They could bathe in the sinks of public libraries for free. They could also find shelter in churches and, even though Rex despised them, homeless shelters were available. Another upside they found was the newspaper’s advertising of free events in the area. They could go to plays, operas, piano recitals, and museums for no charge at all. Eventually, they discovered squatting and began living in vacant homes. They claimed that life on the streets was not that bad at all. Rose Mary even said, “Being homeless is an adventure” (Walls 255).
Why does Maureen stab Rose Mary? Why does Jeannette apologize for "everything" in her mind (p. 276)? Maureen stabbed Rose Mary because Rose Mary had decided that Maureen needed to move out of the house and find a place of her own to live in. She wanted Maureen to “leave the nest and make her way in the world” (Walls 275). Maureen could not believe that her mother would kick her out onto the streets and make her fend for herself, as she had always been the type to want someone to take care of her. Maureen had always been babied by her mother. She had grown into the mindset that she needed someone to provide for her and she did not plan on finding stable work. Jeannette knew that and blamed herself for not taking care of Maureen when she got to New York. Jeannette blamed herself for working and for living her own life instead of providing for and staying with Maureen
'A Woman on the Street' Response
- In the photograph in the beginning of the memoir, a little girl is covering her face with embarrassment. In the first, second, and third paragraphs, it is apparent that the little girl, Jeannette is embarrassed because her homeless mother is digging through dumpsters. In paragraph three, Jeannette says, “I was overcome with panic that she’d see me and call out my name.” She didn’t want anyone to know that her mother was homeless and had to dig through trash to find something of value.
- It becomes obvious in paragraph six that Jeannette live a luxurious lifestyle when she says, “There were the Georgian maps I'd had framed, the Persian rugs, and the overstuffed leather armchair I liked to sink into at the end of the day.” In paragraph six, she says, “I'd tried to make a home for myself here, tried to turn the apartment into the sort of place where the person I wanted to be would live.” She wanted to be a rich person who could have many luxuries and she longed to be able to not feel selfish about it. But regardless of her fancy lifestyle, the reader sees in paragraph six that Jeanette feels badly about herself because she says, “I fretted about them, but I was embarrassed by them, too, and ashamed of myself for wearing pearls and living on Park Avenue while my parents were busy keeping warm and finding something to eat.” Not only is she embarrassed about her parents being homeless and she would be mortified to be associated with them, but she worries about their lives and how they’re fighting for survival on the streets.
- Jeanette states in paragraph four, “I slid down in the seat and asked the driver to turn around and take me home to Park Avenue.” Mortified. Jeanette’s mom waved enthusiastically and said, "It's my baby girl!" Excited.
- The author wanted to show the contrast between herself and her mother. She wants the audience to understand that she was ashamed of and also worried about her parents and their dirty, raw lifestyle. Walls included her mother’s reaction to seeing her in the Chinese restaurant to show that her mother was not ashamed of her own lifestyle and that she loved her daughter, even though they didn’t live the same way.
"Messay" Essay - Rough Draft
AP Language & Composition
16 February, 2016
""How many places have we lived?" I asked Lori. "That depends on what you mean by 'lived,'" she said. How many times is too many times to push your family out of one home to another? To force them to adapt to a new area? To pull your children away from their friends and push them to keep a distance between new ones? For a child, moving homes can be stressful, overwhelming, and terrifying. Children should remain in one or few homes throughout their childhood in order to form long lasting relationships, develop social skills, and form bonds with those around them in a stable living environment.
The Walls family had a long history of staying in one place for a short time. The father, Rex Walls, was the one who decided when the family was going to live and when they would ‘skedaddle,’ or move again. The family, over time, became accustomed to this nomadic lifestyle, but the constant changing of location affected them in ways that could have been avoided, had the circumstances been different. Children need stability. They need to live in one or few places through the duration of their childhood in order to form long lasting relationships with others outside of family. Lack of stable childhood friendship could lead a child to be skeptical of future relationships.
“... We knew we'd be moving on sooner or later” (Walls 20). The Walls kids refused to get their hopes up. They did not allow themselves to bond with other children enough to form a stable relationship, because they knew they would be torn apart as soon as they got comfortable.
“The truth was, we were stuck” (Walls 194). Once the family was finally stable, they couldn’t help but wonder when they would be forced to leave again. The family had gotten so accustomed to being stationary that they could not stand not leaving. Their mother, whose wanderlust was immense, started going crazy and fell into a deep depression. The children all hated the school that they had been forced to attend and the children in the area were unpleasant toward them. The children were exposed to social issues such as bullying and racism in this new town that they were being held down in. The parents were aware of these issues and still, the father refused to move the children to another home. When children start to expect things like moving house constantly and the parent falls short of moving them again, the child gets disappointed and confused. When they are used to changing homes over and over, the stability of a single home drives them insane and they depend on moving again when things are going badly. The children thought that they were going to move again when the bullying and racism ensued, but they met a harsh reality.
“... unlike him, she would make it out for good” (Walls _). Jeannette hated having to move and she hated not having a say in where she was moved. She was going to leave her nomadic family. She was going to live life on her own. She knew that her move to New York would be her last huge move. She would find stability in New York. She would be okay with living a boring life as long as she knew she was not going anywhere.
Final Essay: No-Mad's Land
AP Language and Composition
26 February, 2016
“‘How many places have we lived?’” (Walls 29). How many times is too many times to push your family out of one home to another? To force them to adapt to a new area? To pull your children away from their friends and push them to keep new friends at arm’s length? The Walls family had a history of moving from place to place in the blink of an eye. They stayed in so many homes and for such differing amounts of time that they eventually lost count of all of their previous dwellings. The family remembered the insides of cars better than they remembered the houses themselves or the neighbors they were forced to leave behind time and time again. This nomadic life took a toll on the entire family, but the children seemed to catch the brunt of it all. For a child, moving homes can be stressful, overwhelming, and terrifying. Children should remain in one or few homes throughout their childhood in order to form long lasting relationships, develop social skills, and form bonds with those around them in a stable living environment.
It is no secret that moving is stressful. Nomadic children get used to packing only the essentials when moving, leaving behind comfort objects like toys and photos. If the family has a pet, that would just be extra baggage that the family had to leave behind; much like when Rex Walls left the family cat, Quixote, behind. When they move so suddenly, they have to leave without saying goodbye, which leaves neighbors and acquaintances stunned and wondering what happened to that family down the road. Some of the child’s biggest fears are: where they are going to live next, how long they will live there, and if they are going to like the new house or not. At one point, the Walls family moved into a home that was so dingy that Jeannette had to put a lot of effort into changing it into something she would maybe want to live in. She said that the house, after her paint job, would look, “... almost like the houses other people lived in” (Walls 157). She was unhappy with the home that she was forced to move into without a say so in the matter. I have not had to move in my sixteen years of life. But, now that my family is sick of residing in the same location, we are beginning to move house. Finding a home was stressful. We wanted to find a nice house on nice land for a nice price. These tasks have been incredibly difficult to accomplish and it has taken my family almost a year to finalize plans. I could not imagine being in a situation where my family up and left our current house and settled into a random home a state away. The Walls family never lived in one home long enough to become tied to it and really settle into it, making moves easier, but ultimately hurting the family in the long run.
“... We knew we'd be moving on sooner or later” (Walls 20). The Walls kids refused to get their hopes up. They did not allow themselves to bond with other children enough to form a stable relationship, because they knew they would be torn apart as soon as they got comfortable. Children need friends. Friends are the people who keep secrets and provide a place for you when your family becomes too much. Maureen Walls was a great example of this because she made friends in Welch that she visited for dinner or when she needed a place to sleep other than her family’s impoverished home. Jeannette reported, “Maureen was more or less living with neighbors” (Walls 249). If it had not been for her friends, she would have to remain cooped up in a home with a family who would have driven her insane during her youth. The Walls kids may have bonded more with each other when they had no friends to rely on, but they could feel the negative affects of that later on.
In New York, Jeannette did not have any old friends to talk to about her life, so she made new friends who she could easily tell false stories to about her childhood and she locked the door on the past that she did not want those new friends to see. A huge way that people bond is through telling secrets. Jeannette bottled up all of these secrets from her past, which she had never had to share with a friend during her youth, and that prolonged her need to get those secrets off of her chest. If she had had a friend to confide in during those early developmental stages of her life, she may have been able to open up to newcomers in her life, instead of hiding all of her secrets and starting relationships with lies about the past.
Another major downside to being a primarily nomadic family is when the family finally settles and restlessness occurs. Once a nomadic family is finally stable, they cannot help but wonder when they are going to be forced to leave again. The family had gotten so accustomed to being stationary that they could not stand the thought not moving again. Their mother, whose wanderlust was immense, started going crazy and fell into a deep depression. The children all hated the school that they had been forced to attend and the children in the area were unpleasant toward them. The children were exposed to social issues such as bullying and racism in this new town that they were being held down in. The parents were aware of these issues and still, the father refused to move the family to another home. When children start to expect things like moving house constantly and the parent falls short of moving them again, the child gets disappointed and confused. When they are used to changing homes over and over, the stability of a single home drives them insane and they depend on moving again when things are going badly. The children thought that they were going to move again when the bullying and racism ensued, but they met a harsh reality. The Walls kids had become so dependent on moving that they did not handle issues in the ways that they should have. They had become so accustomed to leaving that they thought that running from their problems was how they were supposed to live. Eventually, the children would realize how to deal with the issues they come in contact with, but they would also see that the lives they were living could have been much better if they would have had a bit more stability.
“Unlike him, she would make it out for good” (Walls 241). Constant moving during childhood could lead a child to leave their family behind. Jeannette Walls hated having to move and she hated not having a say in where she was moved. She had decided to leave her nomadic family. She was going to live life on her own. She knew that her move to New York would be her last huge move. She would find stability in New York. She would be okay with living a boring life as long as she knew she was not going anywhere. Jeannette got to a point where she nearly resented her family for making her move so many times during her childhood. In New York, she even refused to disclose much information about her family and her past because she was so ashamed of living in so many poor houses and not having any friends. She ran as soon as she got the chance to a place where she would crave stability and structure. She did not want to be with her family anymore, she wanted to find an anchor in New York. Jeannette ended up marrying a man who she reported was boring and predictable. She liked not having to guess what was around the corner with him. She was finally comfortable, settled, and bored. She loved it. Forcing a child to live a nomadic youth will push them one of two ways: to continue his or her life as a wanderer or to settle down and create a stable home for their future. The latter, of course, would keep that person from repeating the same scattered life they lived into their own child’s life. That person would see how stability is a wonderful thing and can help their own children grow into better people than that person was.
When kids who lived a nomadic childhood finally find stability, they realize the affect that moving so many times had on them. They realize that they had no childhood friends to fall back on when times got tough. They are stunted when it comes to developing any strong relationships with friends or life partners in the future. They see how horrible moving houses constantly is and may even resent the family that put them through so many homes and so much stress. Jeannette Walls is a great example of the affects a nomadic childhood could have on a kid. She was so fed up with moving that she made one final move to New York where she bottled up the remnants of her past and kept them sealed away. All she ever wanted was stability. It is too bad that it took her into adulthood to find it.
Meet the Parents
Mother: Rose Mary Walls
Rose Mary Walls is nothing short of a free spirit. She loves recklessness, chaos, and independence. Rose Mary grew up in a strict home. Her mother set hard rules that she tried to make Rose Mary conform to, but the rules only drove Rose Mary to crave adventure and freedom. Rose Mary's careless personality carried on into her motherhood. She parented recklessly and often abandoned her children or put them in danger. Letting her children fend for themselves may have made them more independent, but it also led her children to think of her as pitiful and rather insane. Rose Mary's wanderlust also contributed to her family's nomadic life style. She may have loved the constant moving and all of the road trips, but with every move, her children lost another opportunity to make new friends or to get an education. She tore her children from their homes time and time again and left them constantly wondering when they were going to have to leave again. Her wanderlust seemed to rule superior over other aspects of her life, including work and motherhood. Rose Mary may have her mother to blame for her careless life, but her children have her to blame for their rough childhoods.
Father: Rex Walls
Rex Walls was the head of the Walls family. He decided where the family moved, when they would move, and he worked to support the whole family. Rex, much like his wife, was careless, which is probably what drew them to each other in the first place. Rex Walls could never maintain a stable job, due to his hardheadedness as well as his addiction to alcohol. Both of these issues could be linked back to Rex's childhood where he grew up with an alcoholic and abusive mother. In his adulthood, Rex refused to depend on others, which probably ties in with him pushing himself away from his family early on. Rex refused to take handouts. He would not let people help him out with bills and he would not let anyone donate to his family. He was convinced that his family was not a charity case and they should not be treated like one. When he worked, his money was poured into his booze fund, rather than into his family. He often drank himself out of jobs and used the money his family needed in between jobs to drink more. When he ran out of booze money, or just wanted a new job, the family up and moved again, allowing the cycle repeat itself. Every time Rex forced his family back into the car to travel to another unknown location, the children were left wondering if in the next town, they would have enough time to unpack or not before moving again. Rex was pitiful. He drank problems away and when the booze was not enough help, he just ran away, dragging his family behind him to the next secluded, impoverished, sad, little home.