Poverty in The Glass Castle

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 695 |

Pages: 2|

4 min read

Published: Mar 20, 2024

Words: 695|Pages: 2|4 min read

Published: Mar 20, 2024

Table of contents

  1. Factors Contributing to Poverty
  2. Consequences of Poverty on the Children
  3. Resilience and Strength
  4. Conclusion

Jeannette Walls' memoir, The Glass Castle, provides a poignant and raw portrayal of poverty and its devastating impact on a family. The memoir chronicles Walls' childhood, growing up in extreme poverty with dysfunctional parents who struggled with addiction and mental illness. This essay will explore the theme of poverty in The Glass Castle, analyzing the factors contributing to the family's poverty, the consequences of poverty on the children, and the resilience and strength demonstrated by the family in the face of adversity.

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Factors Contributing to Poverty

One of the key factors contributing to the poverty experienced by the Walls family is the lack of stable employment and financial instability. Jeannette's father, Rex Walls, is portrayed as a charismatic and intelligent man who is unable to hold down a steady job due to his alcoholism and unconventional lifestyle choices. As a result, the family is constantly moving from place to place, living in squalid conditions and struggling to make ends meet. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2019, 10.5% of the U.S. population lived below the poverty line, with lack of stable employment being a significant contributing factor.

In addition to financial instability, the memoir also highlights the impact of addiction and mental illness on the family's poverty. Rex's alcoholism and Rose Mary's unconventional approach to parenting and lack of concern for financial stability further exacerbate the family's precarious situation. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, substance abuse is a significant contributing factor to poverty, as it can lead to job loss, financial instability, and strained family relationships.

Consequences of Poverty on the Children

The Glass Castle vividly portrays the profound impact of poverty on the children, both emotionally and physically. Jeannette and her siblings are often left to fend for themselves, scrounging for food and living in deplorable conditions. The lack of access to basic necessities such as food, shelter, and healthcare takes a toll on their physical and mental well-being. According to the American Psychological Association, children living in poverty are more likely to experience chronic stress, developmental delays, and mental health issues.

Furthermore, the memoir also highlights the impact of poverty on the children's education. Jeannette and her siblings struggle to attend school regularly, and when they do, they face ridicule and discrimination due to their poverty. The lack of access to resources, such as books and school supplies, further hinders their academic progress. According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, children living in poverty are more likely to experience academic challenges, lower graduation rates, and limited access to higher education.

Resilience and Strength

Despite the overwhelming challenges they face, the Walls family demonstrates remarkable resilience and strength in the face of adversity. Jeannette and her siblings show remarkable resourcefulness, finding creative ways to survive and support each other. Their ability to find joy and beauty in the midst of poverty is a testament to their indomitable spirit. According to the American Psychological Association, resilience is the ability to adapt and thrive in the face of adversity, and it is a key factor in overcoming the negative impact of poverty.

Furthermore, the memoir also portrays the enduring love and bond between the siblings, as they support and protect each other in the face of their parents' neglect. The sense of unity and mutual support serves as a source of strength for the children, helping them navigate the challenges of poverty. According to the Journal of Marriage and Family, strong family relationships and support systems can mitigate the negative impact of poverty on children and promote their well-being.

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The Glass Castle offers a compelling insight into the devastating impact of poverty on a family, as well as the resilience and strength demonstrated in the face of adversity. By examining the factors contributing to poverty, the consequences of poverty on the children, and the family's resilience, we gain a deeper understanding of the complex and multifaceted nature of poverty. The memoir serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of addressing the systemic issues that perpetuate poverty and the need for support and resources to help families break the cycle of poverty.

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

Poverty in The Glass Castle. (2024, March 20). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 29, 2024, from
“Poverty in The Glass Castle.” GradesFixer, 20 Mar. 2024,
Poverty in The Glass Castle. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 29 May 2024].
Poverty in The Glass Castle [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Mar 20 [cited 2024 May 29]. Available from:
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