Study Guide

Minor Characters in The Glass Castle

By Jeannette Walls

Minor Characters

Jeannette always wanted to know what a prostitute does. Her liberal parents are oddly prudish when it comes to sex, so this remains a mystery to her until she meets a friend's mother, Ginnie Sue Pastor. They have a chicken dinner together, and Jeannette forgets to ask what a hooker does. But she learns this: "One thing about whoring: It put a chicken on the table" (3.8.25).

Ginnie Sue serves as a contrast to Jeannette's own mother. Jeannette isn't necessarily saying she wishes her mom were a hooker, but she does wish Mom would get off her butt and do something to make some money.

Two other grubby little children show us that not everyone who grows up in poverty and squalor has a rags-to-riches success story like Jeannette has. Billy Deel lives with his drunk naked dad who pees himself. Billy makes a good point when he tells Jeannette, "Your daddy ain't nothing but a drunk like mine" (2.20.14). This boy, by the way, is Jeannette's first kiss. He gives her a ring, but Lori later shoots at him—with a real gun—after he attacks Jeannette for dumping him.

Ernie Goad relentlessly torments Jeannette and Brian, saying, "You live in garbage 'cause you are garbage!" (3.9.10). Sadly, they can't argue with this. It's true. But that doesn't stop them from teaming up together and pelting Ernie and his gang with rocks. The family that builds a catapult together stays together.

Mom tells Jeannette that "[n]o child is born a delinquent" (2.20.20). And that's probably true. Often, kids become delinquents because of a terrible upbringing. In fact, it's shocking that Jeannette, Lori, and Brian turned out as well adjusted as they did.

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