Study Guide

The Glass Castle Part III, Chapter 20

By Jeannette Walls

Part III, Chapter 20

  • Jeanette worries about her younger sister, Maureen, who has started hanging out at churches where they speak in tongues.
  • Jeannette is also concerned about Mom's mood swings, and about how she often refuses to go to work.
  • However, Mom does decide to take an eight-week college course to renew her teaching certificate.
  • Mom leaves Jeannette in charge and gives her $200 to last the two months.
  • Jeannette believes this is an opportunity to prove to the family that it is possible to stand up to Dad and not give him money.
  • Then Jeannette gives Dad five dollars. That didn't last long.
  • Dad asks for twenty, and Jeannette gives that to him, too.
  • Later, Dad says he can pay her back, but they'll have to earn the money.
  • And by "earn it," Dad basically means that Jeannette will have to prostitute herself: he sends her by herself into a room full of drunk men after he wins some money off them in a pool game.
  • One of the men forces himself on Jeannette, but he backs off when she shows him her burn scars.
  • Jeannette is upset with Dad, but he says, "I knew you could handle yourself" (3.21.68).
  • That vote of confidence doesn't make Jeannette feel any better.