Study Guide

The Glass Castle Home

By Jeannette Walls

Home

"We could live like this forever," I said.

"I think we're going to," she said. (2.3.20-2.3.21)

As a young girl, Jeannette isn't concerned with having a stable home life. She feels the same sense of adventure that Mom does from moving all the time. But Lori, who is a few years older, is already longing for roots.

"If you spend one night in some town, did you live there? What about two nights? Or a whole week?" (2.6.6)

This is a good question. How would you answer it? What makes a place a home? How does Jeannette think about it?

One night when the lights were out and I could see a sliver of moon through the window, I heard a slithering noise on the floor. (2.8.5)

Lori might be regretting that dream about having a stable home. Even in this house, the family isn't quite safe. Mom and Dad aren't able (or, more accurately, aren't willing) to turn their lives around so that they can truly provide for their kids, so the best they come up with is a ramshackle place that's basically open to all the wildlife around them.

I was happy in Battle Mountain. We'd been there for nearly a year, and I considered it home—the first real home I could remember. (2.20.2)

Here is Jeannette's answer to the question about how long you need to live in a place before it's a home. Jeannette considers Battle Mountain a home after one year. However, she is only five or six at this point, so a year is about 20% of her entire life.

The house also had termites. […] We'd have to coexist with the critters. So we walked around the hole in the living room floor. (2.22.52)

The house starts to reflect the family itself—you know, it's falling apart. Doesn't get much more in-your-face symbolic than that. The Walls family itself also has a lot of holes in it, but the family members walk around them as if they don't exist, and they never try to fix them.

"We may not agree with all of Erma's views," [Mom] said, "but we have to remember that as long as we're her guests, we have to be polite." (3.4.31)

Mom seems to change a bit while living with Erma. She would rather be in this stable location, even if it's toxic, than keep moving around every few months. Mom's cosmic laziness really does get in the way of her being, you know, a decent mom.

"Welcome to home sweet home." (3.6.12)

This statement is dripping with irony, and it's the only thing dripping in a house without indoor plumbing.

We now had a weird-looking half-finished patch job—one that announced to the world that the people inside the house wanted to fix it up but lacked the gumption to get the work done. (3.7.25)

Correction: the "person" inside the house. By this point, Jeannette is the only member of her family who cares about making their ramshackle house into a home. Everyone else has given up.

"But you live here," she said. "This is your home." (3.26.9)

This woman is the worst high-school guidance counselor ever. Just because she has never left her own home, that doesn't mean that no one else should.

It became clear they'd stumbled on an entire community of people like themselves, people who lived unruly lives battling authority and who liked it that way. After all those years of roaming, they'd found home. (4.8.6)

Finding a community helps make a place a home, even if what we're talking about is a community of people who seem crazy to the majority of society. Also, does "battling authority" change once you have kids? Should it?