The Glass Castle: Social Issues

Bella Wolter

Mental Illness

“A person's thinking, feeling or mood may affect and disrupt his ability to relate to others and function in daily life.” This quote relates to Rose Mary because of her inability to teach on days that she would throw a tantrum. Every once in a while, Rose Mary would not get out bed even if the kids tried to drag her out. The school was short staffed and really needed her so she did it for the money. When she was having her bad days, she would just stay in bed all day and block out everyone.


Rebellion

Civil disobedience is the refusal to comply with certain laws as protest. The Walls whole family is civilly disobedient. They are constantly running away from the government and cannot keep up with average living standards. For example, when the child welfare man came the door, they didn’t answer because they knew something bad would happen. Since they weren’t living in proper conditions, that would make the kids eligible to be put in foster care for neglect.


Alcoholism

“Addiction is based in the brain.” This quote relates to Rex because he can’t seem to tell himself to stop. He did try to stop at one point but couldn’t resist drinking again. When he drinks, he just decides to leave and go off to a bar for a while since his family doesn’t seem to be as important. This is just like he’s letting s brain get the best of him, even though he may not like it.


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Homelessness

The Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing Act could have helped Jeanette’s family if it had been enacted when she was growing up homeless. This act rapidly rehouses homeless families, provides permanent support for the disabled, and more efficiently meets the needs of people seeking assistance. This legislation didn’t get signed into law until 2009 but would’ve provided housing for the Walls family since they qualified. It provides resources for those with extremely low incomes, are in precarious housing situations, etc. which is just what the Walls were involved in. In the book, Rose Mary and Rex are constantly running away from the government and never get involved with government workers. (ex: hospitals/ child welfare)


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Parenting

Jeanette’s parents should have lost their parental rights based on the criteria in the article. A few of the most common reasons for involuntary termination include severe abuse or neglect, sexual abuse, long term alcohol induced incapacity, and failure to support the child, all of which apply to the Walls’ children. When the child welfare man came to the door, the kids claimed they didn’t feel neglected at all. It is true that Rex was an alcoholic and both parents said it was the kids’ responsibilities to support themselves. Even though this may not sound normal, it didn’t necessarily affect the kids. They believed it made them stronger individuals that didn’t need help.


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Education

Based on the article, I believe that Jeanette’s parents exhibited educational neglect which is the parent’s failure to ensure the child attends school as required by law. “Child in Need of Protection- defines a child in need of protection or services as a child who is without necessary food, clothing, shelter, education, or other required care for the child’s physical or mental health or morals because the child’s parent/guardian is unable or willing to provide that care.” Rose Mary and Rex Walls claimed it was the children’s responsibilities to support themselves and get everything they needed on their own. The kids didn’t believe they were neglected or anything to that affect but legally, their parents exhibited educational neglect.
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