UPDATE: See the dialectical journal post on the main page for the completed entries.
Dialectical Journals – The Glass Castle || 4.11.2016
Pages 1-15 || “That was good, she said, because from the look of it, I had other things to worry about.” || Page 14
In this simple statement, the nurse slightly roasts Jeannette’s family. It’s good Jeannette isn’t worried about her scar because she has to worry about her rowdy family that was just kicked out of the room. Only 3 at the time, this statement would go over Jeannette’s head, but there is definitely meaning in it. Writing this as an adult, Walls intentionally included the statement as a nod and foreshadow to the dysfunctional nature of her family.
Pages 16-30 || “‘If you spend one night in some town, did you live there?’” || Page 29
Definitely a thought provoking statement. What defines a home? The kids decide that it’s when you unpack your things. Yet I disagree. If one stays a week at a hotel and unpacks into the dressers, they wouldn’t consider themselves living there. By the kids’ definition, I’ve lived in upwards of 10 places including hotels and summer camps. In reality, I’ve lived in two places – my current house and the previous. This is only counted places I’ve lived permanently.
Pages 31-45 || “Venus was only a planet, and pretty dinky compared to real stars” || Page 40
Looking at the night sky, Venus stands out as a bright point compared to others. It reflects light that can be seen at dawn and dusk hours. However, it is a planet that it rather small and insignificant compared to actual stars. This demonstrates the importance of perspective and standards for comparison. By itself, Venus is pretty fantastic. Set against a combusting star, it is nothing.
Pages 46-60 || “Our new home was the oldest buildings in the town, Mom proudly told us, with a real frontier quality to it.” || Page 51
This quote demonstrates the different spin that Jeannette’s mom can put on things. An old dilapidated shack versus a historical homage. The diction of “frontier quality” provides insight into the mindset of Rose Mary Walls. She’s able to make the best of the worst conditions. Or perhaps she just has a distaste for city life. Either way, she makes the situation sound hopeful for her kids, even if it may not be.
Pages 61-75 || “So we mixed up a batch of what Brian called nuclear fuel, pouring different liquids in a can. When I tossed in a match, a cone of flame shot up” || Page 61
This sentence was shocking to me due to its casual nature. They are playing in the dump and trying to make explosions. This reveals what a abnormal life these kids are living. To them, it is perfectly normal to wander independently and experiment with hazardous waste. Even when their concoction starts the shed ablaze, the author only allots half a page to their struggle before moving on – there are more exciting occurrences to cover in this story.
Pages 76-90 || “Its [an abandoned car’s] red paint had been bleached by the desert sun and had turned orange along the rusting trim. The tires had collapsed a long time ago, and the black rag roof was peeling.” || Page 87
.With a lifetime to cover in this memoir, Walls must carefully select what passages to include in order to create her desired effect on the reader. She has to move fast, as with the quote a few paragraphs above about nuclear fuel, but she also carefully selects details that stand apart. This old car is not important to the events occurring, yet it helps the reader visualize the scene.
Pages 91-105 || “Lori and I were secretly thrilled to be called special.” || Page 95
This statement reveals some of the inner character of Lori and Jeannette. They are very intelligent children having learned much from their parents. Nonetheless, Lori and Jeannette enjoy receiving the recognition for what is oftentimes overlooked in their lives. Personally, I’ve been in these “gifted” and “honors” groups all through my education. It is important to place students in academically rigorous environments, yet these same groups can also label people as smart or dumb and categorize types of people.
Pages 106-120 || “Dad stewed for a while, sucking on a beer” || Page 106
This sentence reminded me that Rex/Dad has a drinking problem. He’s ranting about the problems of cities compared to the wilderness and interacting with his young children, but even at this point he has a beer. With such specific word choice as “sucking on” the alcohol, it’s almost as if he is a baby sucking a bottle of milk. It is a dependency that he cannot shake.