Study Guide

The Glass Castle Perseverance

By Jeannette Walls

Perseverance

"You've got to get right back in the saddle. You can't live in fear of something as basic as fire." (2.2.2)

Jeannette's greatest strength is her resilience. If she didn't have such fortitude, she'd probably have broken down as a result of her family. Are other members of her family this resilient? Are her parents?

I crawled along the railroad embankment to the road and sat down to wait for Mom and Dad to come back. (2.6.15)

Jeannette is four years old here, yet she crawls along the side of the road like Bruce Willis after an explosion in a Die Hard movie. She is made of tough stuff.

"Just a little dustup," I said. (2.10.20)

Some people are tough, and some people just act tough. Jeannette is able to do both.

"If you don't want to sink, you better figure out how to swim." (2.16.19)

Jeannette's whole childhood can be summed up by this moment when her Dad "teaches" her to swim. How does he do this? Well, he basically keeps throwing her into water until she just figures it out. Luckily, she does. Jeannette's constantly thrown into situations that she isn't prepared for…and she constantly survives.

Seeing as how Welch was our new home, Brian and I figured we'd make the best of it. (3.7.1)

Having a positive attitude is a critical aspect of Jeannette's perseverance. If she didn't try to make the best of things, she would probably just give up.

It was so cold that the youngest, most fragile branches snapped in the frigid air, and very quickly, I started feeling it. (3.12.2)

This is a metaphorical little line. By this point, Jeannette isn't a fragile branch; she's a solid tree trunk. How has she come so far?

"For the daughter of the town drunk, you sure got big plans," he said. (3.13.30)

Other people think that Jeannette should resign herself to a life of failure, given the fact that she comes from a failure of a man. But she is determined to not be defined by her parents.

"I'll get a job, Jeannette." (3.16.32)

This is a rare moment of determination from Jeannette's mom. Often, it's difficult to see where Jeannette gets her perseverance from because her parents usually retreat to bed or to booze whenever even the slightest trouble arises.

I decided to make my own braces. (3.18.16)

Jeannette comes from a crazy family, so it's only natural that sometimes her determination borders on crazy. No normal child would make her own braces, but Jeannette shows perseverance and creativity when she does it herself.

"You never had much going for you except that you always worked hard." (4.9.9)

Here is one of Mom's backhanded compliments, but Jeannette's capacity for hard work may be the only thing that helps this family survive.