Poison in your Veins


Alcoholism is a chronic and often progressive disease that includes problems controlling your drinking, being preoccupied with alcohol, continuing to use alcohol even when it causes problems, having to drink more to get the same effect (physical dependence), or having withdrawal symptoms when you rapidly decrease or stop drinking.

General Information

  • Causes- Depression and Schizophrenia both contribute to alcoholism
  • Ramifications- Alcohol poisoning, Liver disease, Nerve damage, Permanent damage to the brain
  • Solutions- Rehabilitation, Personal Counciling

The effect on the Walls Family

The Walls family was greatly affected by alcoholism. The father of the family, Rex, "soaks up booze like a sponge" (Walls 197). He always drank his problems away and caused problems because of it. Sometimes the family wouldn't have enough money for food but Rex would still be drinking away. The man couldn't provide for his family, but he didn't care when he was intoxicated. Jeannette, the daughter and main character of the narrative, was put in multiple dangerous situations because of her Dad's drunk carelessness. Even his wife proclaimed him as "a stinking rotten drunk," though she was no saint herself (122). The family would probably have been stable if it weren't for the father's alcohol problem. Jeannette addresses this problem with her dad and he does take her advice. Unfortunately though, he doesn't follow through and instead falls back on the waggon when his mother dies. At this point he was almost always drunk and the lack of a father figure caused all the kids to run away. If Rex wasn't codependent on the depressant that alcohol is, then a steady job he would have had. Instead of having money for food, the children had to steal other kids lunches to keep going. It is just common sense to lay down the bottle and provide for your own family. When Rex isn't drunk he is actually a good father. He teaches his kids valuable lessons that they need to learn, but he could learn a lesson himself about help. Rex is just too stubborn to not do his own thing, causing him to be in an endless loop of drinking. He is an addict, and the Walls are suffering. The cause of a lot of the Walls' problems are rooted from alcoholism. Further than causing hunger, his drunkenness causes many fights between Rex and his wife. Domestic abuse is usually a result of alcoholism and the Walls experienced this first hand. Alcoholism drastically hurt the entire family.

How they respond to alcoholism

How would one response to a household affected by alcoholism? Any answer would be easier said than done. In reality most people don't know how to deal with it when someone they love in the household is influenced. Once someone gets addicted to alcohol, it is really hard to kick the addiction. The Walls family mainly just let Rex, the father, continued with his crooked ways. Rex is a drunk, but to make matters worse he can't even provide food for his own family. With the little money they make, how could the Walls survive if it was all spent on booze. They allowed him to drink way too much. On one road trip "If Dad got too drunk, [Mom] ended up behind the wheel" allowing him to stay intoxicated (Walls 124). The fact that the Walls let it happen like this only causes more harm. Even though they should tell him to stop they just stand by and watch. Then again though, any of us could say thats what to do. The challenge with that is actually following through with action. At one point Jeannette musters up the courage and asked her father to stop. For her birthday Jeannette takes matters into her own hands and asked her dad to please stop drinking for her. Thankfully he agrees. But this doesn't last long, shortly after "Dad had gone back to the booze" and failed his daughter (123). Back on the waggon all hope was lost for the family. After continuous conflicts with domestic abuse and straight up bad parenting, Rex Walls became careless. Everyone stood by and did nothing. Now that Jeannette realized that fighting it won't stop him, flight from the situation would. Jeannette and her siblings eventually run away from the problem to New York city. Finally they are away from the problem. Soon both parents move to New York though and cause conflicts until Rex eventually dies mainly from alcohol poisoning. Once all was said and done, Rex never kicked it and most of the family did nothing about the plague of alcoholism on the family.

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How it changes Jeannette

In the Walls family the father is a missive alcoholic. Because of this, Jeannette, the second oldest of the kids is forced to realize what the world is. Throughout the story she is put in situations where she has to take care of her father or the family while the father is so drunk he is not able to talk clearly or stand up straight. Once she had to sew up her fathers hand. She started to think she was "a complete fool for believing in [him]. Or trying to believe in [her father]" (Walls 169). As more and more incidents happened with him she started to see what a loser her father is and how unreliable he is as a person and father. All in all she started to lose all faith in her father. This is because of the fathers complete addiction to alcohol. He even stole from his own kids to go to the bar and get wasted. The kids started saving up money to get Lori, tho oldest of the four kids, to New York to start earning money and start a better life. But right when the kids started feeling good about getting Lori to New York the Dad steals the money from then one time to go to a bar then steals it again to go and buy a Cadillac. Lori and Brian started to have enough of of dad. at one time Lori yelled out "you're ashamed of us" and in response "dad just kept walking" (Walls 181). The kids have started to be completely fed up with the dads complete crap as a father. They think that the dad is ashamed of them because of the life they want to have, and how they do not want to move around and be homeless like himself and mom. This all has effected Jeannette because she was he dads number one suporter and the more he lets her down and does keeps doing what he is doing he is going to lose all faith in her and she will leave him. It has showed Jeannette what the world truly is.
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