These are some of our favorite quotes from The Glass Castle
. Feel free to add any quotes that you felt were significant, along with an explanation. Any comments are also welcome.
(1) "If you don't want to sink, you better figure out how to swim" (Walls 66).
--This quote, spoken by Rex Walls, not only refers to Jeannette literally learning how to swim, but is also a life lesson. This is Rex Walls's way of letting Jeannette know that if she doesn't learn to take care of herself, she will never survive.
(2) "Welfare, she said, would cause irreparable psychological damage to us kids" (Walls188).
--This may be true -- but whatever damage would be caused by taking welfare is much less than is already being caused by the haphazard and unstable lifestyle the family is living.
(3) "Things usually work out in the end."
"What if they don't?"
" That just means you haven't come to the end yet" (Walls 259).
--This is one of Jeanette's mother's miniature life lessons. Her point is that things will work out -- no matter what -- if you are patient enough.
(4) "And at times like these, self-esteem is more vital than food" (Walls 186).
--Jeanette's mother is given a diamond ring and faced with the choice of either keeping it or selling it for money to buy food. She decides to keep it, pointing out that sometimes, it is more important to feed the soul than to feed the body.
(5) "Just remember," Mom said after examining the blisters, "what doesn't kill you will make you stronger."
"If that was true, I'd be Hercules by now," Lori said (Walls 179).
--Being a member of the Walls family requires a tough exterior and the ability to make the best of what you have. The mother is encouraging her daughter to persevere, but Lori is indicating that she doesn't quite buy into her mother's life lesson.
(6) "Being homeless is an adventure" (Walls 255).
--Jeanette's mother is trying to justify the difficult life a homeless person leads by pointing out that it can be an exciting life, despite the constant hardships.
(7) "I think that maybe sometimes people get the lives they want" (Walls 256).
--In this passage, Jeanette is finally coming to the realization that her parents are homeless by choice -- that they are living the life they want to live, whether it makes sense to their children or not.
(8) "Jeannette, you're so focused it's scary" (Walls 195).
--Jeannette considers this a compliment, but Jeannette's mother does not mean it as one. This quote shows the different outlooks on life between Jeannette and her mother. Jeannette believes in having some sort of plan in life and not living carelessly as her mother does.
(9) "He simply waited for me to fork over the cash, as if he know I didn't have it in me to say no" (Walls 209).
--This quote shows that Jeannette will always have a soft spot for her father, and she realizes it is very difficult to reject him. Jeannette criticizes her mother for not being able to say no to him, but now she knows how hard it is. Although she knows exactly what he is going to buy with it, Jeannette cannot bring herself to say no, and she begins to truly understand that her father takes advantage of the faith she has in him.
(10) "We may not have insulation," Mom said as we all gathered around the stove, "but we have each other" (Walls 177).
--This quote shows that despite the hardships the Walls family go through, they are always there for each other. The Walls family is able to come together to keep each other warm during the winter even though the members of the family do not always get along. Even as a dysfunctional family, they are able to have nice family moments, such as cuddling up by the stove to keep each other warm.
(11) "But I hoped that Maureen had chosen California because she thought it was her true home, the place where she really belonged, where it was always warm and you could dance in the rain, pick grapes right off vines, and sleep outside at night under the stars" (Walls 276).
--This quote describes Maureens ideal home. Ever since she was a child she has wanted to go to California, and now she is finally fulfilling her dream because she lost who she was. Maureen's parents are always there for her, but this shows that she needed to get away from them in order to discover who she is. Although her parents did not realize it, they were destroying her by allowing her to become lazy.
(12) "You know, it's really not that hard to put food on the table if that's what you decide to do" (Walls 288).
--As an adult, Brian realizes that as long as you are ambitious and work hard providing for your family is not hard. He seems to suggest that Rex and Rose Mary had other priorities than working and feeding their children, which is true.