Sometimes, coming of age can happen to fast. The novel “The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls explores the lives of her family members over the span of a couple of decades. Walls recounts stories of horrible situations, endearing moments and harsh realisations as she paints the picture of her life with her parents Rex and Rosemary Walls. Through the stories from her upbringing in the family’s harsh living conditions and traumatic childhood, Walls suggests that children raised under such stress and hardships grow up too fast and may develop unbalanced personalities.
In order to explore the impact that traumatic upbringing may have on growing minds, Wells clearly represents honest and powerful depictions of real character’s lives. Setting perfectly the tone of the novel, the first story told by her is that of the hotdog incident. As a four year old, Jeannette was not fed, nor given any form of care. As her mother would paint (father nowhere to be seen) the young girl would have to cook herself hot dogs. Inevitably, when one leaves a child alone with boiling water of extended periods of time, something goes wrong. As she is cooking, water is spilled all over her body sending her to the hospital.
Throughout the story, Jeannette recounts moments of change for some of the characters. They are put in a situation where they realise the gravity and weight of the real world. Moments in which the characters have to change their perspective drastically in order to survive. When Rex takes his daughter (12 at the time) to a bar, she is put in a situation where a grown man wants to take her to his apartment. Her world was shattered when her father agreed. “…Aw, come on,’ he said and shouted at Dad, ‘I’m going to take your girl upstairs.’ ‘Sure’ ‘Just don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.’ He pointed his pool cue at me. ‘Holler if you need me,’ he said and winked at me as if to say he knew I could take care of myself, that this was just a part of my job.” (212) Jeanette is left on her own to deal with a old man with bad intentions. This unsurprisingly destroys Jeannette’s view of life realising she can’t trust her father and she has to rely on herself to survive. As she speaks of her childhood, Jeannette sparsely discusses relationships with children outside of her family, however, one of which she speaks is of her friendship with Dinitia.