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The Glass Castle in Relation to Family Dynamics

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Rachel Kravitz

on 7 December 2012

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Transcript of The Glass Castle in Relation to Family Dynamics

The Glass Castle in Relation to Family Dynamics By: Rachelle Shah and Rachel Kravitz Father Daughter Relationship In The Glass Castle, Jeannette and Rex Walls share a very strong father daughter relationship. It is put to the test many times when Rex does questionable things parenting wise, but their bond always proves to stand. This kind of relationship is very common in families. Family Dynamics In The Glass Castle, family dynamics plays a very important role because of the Walls family's inability to conform to the average, "nuclear" family. Several examples in the book are common dynamics in families like your's lives. There are various types of families. Types of predefined families are... Nuclear Families a family that consists of two biological
parents and their children, about half of all
families are like this Single-Parent Families a family with only one parent and one or more children,
27 percent of households are single-parent Cross-Generation Families a family with children that has a family member 65 years old or older
living with them; about 670k families are like this, roughly 2.5
million children live with one or both parents in their grandparents’ home Adoptive/Foster Families about 120k children are adopted each year;
6.3 children per 1,000 live in out-of-home foster care Never-Married Families families in which the parents never
get married, about 1.5 million unmarried couples
have at least one child under 15 years old Step Families about 20 percent of children in two-parent households live in blended families Grandparents As Parents about 1.3 million children
live with their grandparents Same-Sex Parent Families about 8 million children have parents who are gay, lesbian or bisexual How is the Walls
family different? Alcohol-Dependent
Father Rex’s problem permitted a “greater incidence of parental depression, family violence and marital problems”, which means that the whole Walls family felt the effects of Rex’s disorder ("Family Disruptions"). Rex Walls depended on alcohol all throughout Jeannette's life; he used it as a way to cope with the problems they were having and could never seem to stop drinking.

"He'd popped open the first Budweiser before breakfast, and by the time midnight mass rolled around, he was having trouble standing up...He'd ruined the Christmas his family had spent weeks planning-the Christmas that was supposed to be the best we'd ever had." (Walls 114-115).

This quote shows how far Rex has submerged himself into his disease because he was easily able to ruin what was supposed to be a good day for the Walls. Alcoholics tend to underrate their problem because “the disease model has been overused and distorted to the extent that many alcoholics …believe that they are physically ‘sick’ and need medical rather than psychological help”; however, alcoholism is both physical and psychological. Turning to alcohol is an unhealthy way to deal with emotions; alcohol abuse also leads to various diseases and organ damage, and ultimately, death (Wyborny 10, 39). Neglecting Mother The effects of neglect are harmful and possibly long-lasting. Its impact can become more severe as a child grows older and can affect a child's physical development, intellectual and cognitive development, psychological development and behavioral development (DePanfilis). Rose Mary Walls displayed her need to self-satisfy all throughout the book. She was apathetic and unconcerned with all of the negative experiences her children were forced to go through.

"Mom liked to encourage self-sufficiency in all living creatures." (Walls 77)

"Lying on the mattress next to Mom was one of those huge family-size Hershey chocolate bars...'I can't help it...I'm a sugar addict, just like your father is an alcoholic.'" (Walls 174)

As you can see from these quotes, Rose Mary encourages her children to fend for themselves and further displays her belief of self-sufficiency and her greed by keeping food to herself while aware that her children were hungry. In another situation, she also showed no concern with Jeannette told her that Uncle Stanley had touched her inappropriately and felt bad for Stanley rather than making sure her daughter was okay. Frequent Relocation What Rex and Rose Mary didn't realize is that moving frequently can affect a child's adult life. During a study conducted by the American Psychological Association, they found that "the more times people moved as children, the more likely they were to report lower life satisfaction and psychological well-being" and that "those who moved frequently as children had fewer quality social relationships as adults"; this manifested itself through Jeannette's first marriage, which ended in divorce because Jeannette found herself unhappy in the relationship ("Moving Repeatedly"). Rose Mary and Rex had a strong tendency to run away from their problems rather than facing them head-on. Multiple times throughout the book, the Walls family packed up a few belongings and drove to different states.

"Dad came home in the middle of the night a few months later and roused all of us from bed. 'Time to pull up stakes and leave this sh*t-hole behind,' he hollered...'Where are we going, Dad?' I asked. "Wherever we end up,' he said." (Walls 17-18)

"We were always doing the skedaddle, usually in the middle of the night." (Walls 19)

"Finally, late in the evening, they came down...'We're going to Phoenix,' Dad said. 'When?' I asked. 'Tonight.'" (Walls 89) The Walls are extremely different than a majority of families. When one thinks about what a family is supposed to be like, he/she would would expect a happy, tight-knit family living in a stable home with a steady income and all of life's necessities. However, many families, such as the Walls, differ from this generalization. The Walls constantly move from place to place; the Walls children aren't properly cared for, and the parents, Rex and Rose Mary, have their own problems which they put above their children and their children's needs. All throughout their childhood, Jeannette, Brian, Lori and Maureen lacked a stable home and proper care and suffered from physical and emotional harassment from their peers and teachers; in some unfortunate cases, Jeannette and Brian even suffered from sexual abuse, which went unnoticed. Sexual Abuse
and Harassment Unfortunately, Brian and Jeannette both suffered from sexual abuse/harassment at some point in their childhoods. Their parents were unconcerned when they received knowledge of said incidents. “One night when I was almost ten, I was awakened by someone running his hands over my private parts... ‘I just want to play a game with you,’ a man’s voice said." (Walls 120) "I felt Stanley’s hand creeping onto my thigh…I looked down and saw that Uncle Stanley’s pants were unzipped and he was playing with himself." (Walls 183-184) "Billy smushed his face against mine, then grabbed by hair and made my head bend sideways and stuck his tongue in my mouth...the more I pulled, the more he pushed, until he was on top of me and I felt his fingers tugging at my shorts. His other hand was unbuttoning his own pants. To stop him, I put my hand down there, and when I touched it, I knew what it was..." (Walls 86) "They'd be gone for a minute or two when I heard Brian weakly protesting. I went into Grandpa's bedroom and saw Erma kneeling on the floor in front of Brian, grabbing at the crotch of his pants, squeezing and kneading...Brian, his cheeks wet with tears, was holding his hands protectively between his legs." (Walls 146) M. Foster Oliver explored various types of child abuse, including sexual abuse, in his book [Child Abuse And Stress Disorders]; he stated that “the psychological scars brought on by sexual child abuse are often permanent and cannot be undone with any amount of psychotherapy” (89). If Erma victimized Rex as a child, it could be blamed for Rex’s lack of emotional and physical stability. Works Cited "Different Types of Families." HealthyChildren.org. American Academy of Pediatrics, 05 Jan. 2012. Web. 05 Dec. 2012.

DePanfilis, Diana. "Child Neglect." Child Welfare. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 2006. Web. 06 Dec. 2012.

"Family Disruptions." HealthyChildren.org. American Academy of Pediatrics, 4 Jan. 2012. Web. 27 Nov. 2012.

"Moving Repeatedly in Childhood Associated with Poorer Quality of Life Years Later." American Psychological Association. American Psychological Association, 3 June 2010. Web. 27 Nov. 2012.

Olive, M. Foster. Child Abuse And Stress Disorders. New York: Chelsea House, 2007. Print.

Walls, Jeannette. The Glass Castle. New York City: Scribner, 2005. Print.

Wyborny, Sheila. Alcoholism. Detroit: Lucent, 2008. Print. ("Different Types of Families") 2:30-3:56 and 21:32-23:04 21:32-23:04
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