Short on time?

Get essay writing help

Symbolism in 'The Glass Castle': Critical Analysis Essay

Essay Type:
Words: 1321
Pages: 3
This essay sample was donated by a student to help the academic community. Papers provided by EduBirdie writers usually outdo students' samples.

Jeanette is shown with her fiance (David) at a dinner. In the novel, David and Jeanette are already married. Jeanette lies about her family life when asked by David’s colleagues. After seeing her parents on the streets, it is evident she is embarrassed by them and how they choose to live their lives. Jeannette burns herself badly when cooking hot dogs at age 3.

The family ‘steals’ her from the hospital before her treatment has been completed. David buys Jeannette a chair (this doesn’t happen in the book). Jeannette is troubled about meeting her mother for lunch. Informs her mother of her engagement, and describes a plan to inform her difficult father. (doesn’t occur in the book). Rex “teaches” Jeannette to swim in a very unorthodox way-he tries to drown her in the pool until she figures out how to save herself.

In the novel, Rex does this in a natural spring reserve. They move because Rex assaults the lifeguard of the pool, and is now on the run from the police. This doesn’t happen in the novel. Rex and David engage in an arm wrestle in which Jeannette sides with David over her father. Rex doesn’t love the engagement. Erma sexually assaults Brian.

Did she do this to Rex as well? Is it due to her upbringing? Rex is distraught about Erma’s passing, gets drunk, and spends all of the children's New York savings. Rex takes Jeannette out for drinks at a bar, where he practically allows a man to attempt to rape her.

The man is put off by Jeannette’s burn scars. Jeannette finds out that her mother had been hiding $1 million from her for the majority of her upbringing. Dad gets sick.

Rose wants Jeannette to visit him, which Jeannette does not want to do, disappointing Rose. Could this be a potential trauma for Jeannette? Does she now fear her father? Symbolism?

Save your time!
We can take care of your essay
  • Proper editing and formatting
  • Free revision, title page, and bibliography
  • Flexible prices and money-back guarantee
Place Order

In a flashback, Jeannette has to drop out of college due to financial problems. Dad shows up with the money she needs to finish. After David lies to Jeannette about her upbringing (eventually leading her to tell the truth), Jeannette calls off the engagement. Dad apologizes for never being able to build the glass castle, then dies. The film ends with the family together for Thanksgiving.

In the novel, Maureen is not present at Thanksgiving, and Brian’s daughter as well as Jeannette’s new husband John’s daughter. Jeannette is described as a freelance writer living alone.

In the novel, she is married. Coming of age is a significant theme within the movie The Glass Castle. The story depicts the tale of Jeanette Walls, a strong persistent girl, who describes her upbringing, and how it made her who she is now. From a girl living in a low-income family to living on the upper east side of New York City as a writer, Jeannette breaks down her crazy life prior to her successful career. Another theme present in the movie is freedom and confinement. While Jeanette lived a very free life (her parents practically let her run rapidly and do as she pleased, as long as she was back home when the street lights came on) when it came to Jeannette wanting to leave home to pursue her own career in journalism, Rex Walls-Jeanette’s father, made it extremely hard for her to do so. He even stole her savings, practically making her start over in her endeavors to begin her own life. It almost seems as if he never intended to let her leave his life and have her own.

A symbol present in The Glass Castle is the need for Jeannette to burst free from her dad's elusive lifestyle. From the beginning of her life, Rex has been making blueprints, and electrical plans for his dream house-the glass castle, a home made entirely out of glass. He makes his dream sound so realistic and possible that eventually his children and wife are convinced it is going to happen. When Jeannette finally takes control of her life, saves the money she needs to move to New York, and becomes independent, she is able to burst free from the bubble in which her father kept her all her life. She is no longer engulfed in this idea that never comes true, and she is finally able to stand up to her father.

In The Glass Castle, the Walls family never really stays in one place all that long. They spend a lot of their lives on the run, usually because of Jeanette’s father. This impacts the other elements in the film because of how it influenced Jeanette and her siblings' lives. Jeanette and her siblings were never given the chance to lead their own normal lives. They could never get used to being in one place for a long enough period to put down roots. Due to the number of times the family moved, some conflicts definitely presented themselves. For example, when Rex wanted to stay in Phoenix, Rose Mary (Jeanette’s mother), wanted to move to Welch-where Rex grew up. This causes conflict because the scene ends up with Dad laying drunk on the floor of their Phoenix home listening to Jeanette trying to convince him to come along with the rest of the family who were all in the car ready to go. Eventually, Rex goes with them, but the underlying reason for the conflict is clearly due to the number of times the family moves in a small period of time.

As Jeannette grows older, she begins to stand up to her parents more often. As a young child, Jeanette tends to simply go along with everything Rex told her to do, but as she grows into a successful young woman, she learns that she doesn’t have to agree with everything he does or says. At the beginning of the film, Jeannette is in her New York Apartment with her new fiance when he asks her why she seems to be in an odd mood. Jeannette says she has to go to lunch with her mother. Another example of how Jeannette stood up to her parents, is when she and her fiance go to the apartment where her parents are “squatting” in New York City. Rex clearly has negative opinions on the relationship between Jeannette and her new fiance and makes his thoughts clear. At the end of the night, Jeannette’s fiance and Rex get into an arm wrestle, and to Rex's surprise, Jeannette cheers for her fiance instead of her father. This can be analyzed as an example of Jeannette finally doing what she wants to do with her life, ignoring any input from her parents, specifically her father. This is a clear example of the character development of Jeannette from an obedient child to an independent successful woman and writer.

Compared to the novel, the movie is quite a bit different. A big difference between the movie and the novel is that in the movie it isn’t included that the family moves as many times as they did in the book. Another difference in The Glass Castle is how the movie uses the story of Jeannette's upbringing as flashbacks, constantly going back to Jeannette in New York City. In the book, we only meet New York City Jeannette once at the beginning and once at the end. Another difference is how in the book, the family is depicted to be in Phoenix for a much longer time, however, in the movie, they don’t stay in Phoenix too long. They also don’t show Grandma Smith (Rose Mary’s mother) as much as in the book. Lastly, the book spent a lot of time explaining how bad Welch really had gotten, while it seems as though the movie sort of “glossed over” the conditions of Welch. Obviously, it's not possible to condense the entirety of the novel into a 90-minute film, but it definitely seemed to be missing several memories from Jeannette’s childhood, that are described in the novel.

Make sure you submit a unique essay

Our writers will provide you with an essay sample written from scratch: any topic, any deadline, any instructions.

Cite this Page

Symbolism in ‘The Glass Castle’: Critical Analysis Essay. (2023, September 25). Edubirdie. Retrieved November 30, 2023, from
“Symbolism in ‘The Glass Castle’: Critical Analysis Essay.” Edubirdie, 25 Sept. 2023,
Symbolism in ‘The Glass Castle’: Critical Analysis Essay. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 30 Nov. 2023].
Symbolism in ‘The Glass Castle’: Critical Analysis Essay [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2023 Sept 25 [cited 2023 Nov 30]. Available from:
Join 100k satisfied students
  • Get original paper written according to your instructions
  • Save time for what matters most
hire writer

Fair Use Policy

EduBirdie considers academic integrity to be the essential part of the learning process and does not support any violation of the academic standards. Should you have any questions regarding our Fair Use Policy or become aware of any violations, please do not hesitate to contact us via

Check it out!
search Stuck on your essay?

We are here 24/7 to write your paper in as fast as 3 hours.