Maureen is often forgotten throughout the entire story of The Glass Castle written by Jeannette Walls. We are very tragically reminded of Maureen’s presence when she stabs her own mother while living in New York. Reflecting back to the beginning of the story, we can see why Maureen has a mental breakdown. She is born into a world of violence, her parents fail to care for her, and she lives her entire childhood in neglect. The announcement that Mary is pregnant seems to be thrown into this story as if Walls forgot to include the part in the first place.
Rex is holding a job at the gypsum mine and Mary makes sculptures out of the excess dust that Rex brings home. Just as it seems that things are taking a positive turn, it is told that Mary is pregnant. Usually a family (depending on the circumstance) is happy to be bringing a new baby into this world, but the Walls family sees this pregnancy as more of a burden. Not to mention, Rex and Mary cannot even decide on how far along in the pregnancy they are. Before Maureen is even born, Rex and Mary get into a huge fight in the dessert.
Mary exits the car in which the fight starts, and Rex chases after Mary. Walls writes, “[Rex] cornered [Mary] against some rocks…[Rex] dragged [Mary] back, legs flailing, and threw [Mary] into the car” (43). This occurrence is not justifiable in any case, but on top of this, Mary is pregnant and Maureen is put into great danger. Sadly, this proves that Maureen will be born into a very hostile environment. Three months after Maureen is born, the Walls family is in their car when a police officer tries to pull them over for not having any brake lights.
Rex says that if they do get pulled over, they would all be arrested because their car is not registered and does not have any insurance. This results in a car chase during which Maureen is literally tossed around. There is not actually a car seat for Maureen and her life is put in the hands of Jeannette. No newly born baby should be exposed to this type of violence, but these instances continue to grow worse and worse throughout Maureen’s life. As Maureen grows up, she is forced to fend for herself. Mary and Rex seem almost non-existent in Maureen’s life.
Though Maureen does still have her siblings, it seems that she is disconnected from her family. Every once in a while, Mary decides that Maureen deserves special treatment and will go out and steal clothes for Maureen, but other than that, it is not until the family is living in Welch that Maureen really makes an appearance. Rex keeps up his drinking habit, and is not bringing any money in for the family. Mary is forced to stop her artistic projects and get a job. Lori, Jeannette, and Brian all get jobs too, whether they be working for a paper or little odd jobs, and this is how the family just barely gets by each week.
Maureen on the other hand does not get a job, but instead learns to make friends. Walls writes, “[Maureen] would show up at their houses around dinner-time” (173). Because of making good friends, Maureen does not even have to worry about working for her food. Though the jobs that the rest of the family members have benefit everyone, Maureen only worries about herself. In all reality, fending for her self is really all that Maureen can do. Rex and Mary are never there for her, and Lori, Jeannette, and Brian can only do so much for Maureen because they can barely provide for themselves.
While the Walls family is living in Welch, big dreams are created and the children develop ideas of how to get themselves out of Welch. Lori and Jeannette want to move to New York, go to college, and start a new career and life. Brian is not really worried about where he goes, but he does want to become a police officer, and also does not want to be stuck in Welch the rest of his life. Maureen also creates a dream of her own, and wants nothing more than to go back to California. Though Maureen was young when her and her family lived in California, this is the only place that she wanted to go.
Jeannette and Lori tell Maureen of the great times that they had in California and explain to Maureen that she has such blonde hair because of all the gold in California, and blue eyes because of the ocean. Maureen responds, “’[California] is where I’m going to live when I grow up’” explains Walls (207). The stories that Jeannette and Lori tell are responsible for Maureen’s dream to go back to California. However, it seems that Maureen takes after her parents, and struggles to fulfill her dream. While Lori, Jeannette, and Brian go off and start their new lives, Maureen is stuck back in Welch.
Lori and Jeannette decide that Maureen should move to New York with them, so they make arrangements and Maureen goes to live with Lori, and begins going to college. Things are going great up until Rex and Mary move to New York. It is at this time that Maureen seems to give up on her schooling. After Lori kicks her out, Maureen spends her days living with Rex and Mary in a squatter apartment. She wastes her days away by smoking cigarettes, reading, painting, and sometimes just sleeping away the day.
Jeannette tries to help Maureen by talking to a doctor, but because Maureen refuses treatment, the doctors can only treat Maureen through a court order proving she is a danger to herself or others. Because she has hit rock bottom and because the rest of her family was fulfilling their happiness, Maureen has a mental break. Maureen actually stabs her mother, and ends up being jailed for an entire year. To get away from her family and her broken life, Maureen buys a ticket to get her self to California, and starts her new life there.
After a lifetime of being stuck in the cycle of the Walls family, Maureen is finally going to get the chance to fulfill her dreams. Throughout the story of The Glass Castle, it is obvious that Maureen is frequently forgotten about. So many things lead to Maureen’s mental breakdown; she is born into a world of violence, her parents fail to care for her, and she endures a childhood of neglect. If Maureen were not always lost in the shadows of her siblings, and dreams of her parents, her mental breakdown could have been compromised.
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