The Glass Castle

What are some quotes from the book and thier meaning?

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Until then, when I thought of writers, what first came to mind was Mom, hunched over her typewriter, clattering away on her novels and plays and philosophies of life and occasionally receiving a personalized rejection letter. But a newspaper reporter, instead of holing up in isolation, was in touch with the rest of the world. What the reporter wrote influenced what people thought about and talked about the next day; he knew what was really going on. I decided I wanted to be one of the people who knew what was really going on.


In seventh grade Jeannette is the first person her age to work for the school newspaper, The Maroon Wave. She seeks it out as a place where she can belong and have an identity without worrying about people teasing her for being poor or dirty or criticizing her parents. During her work with the school newspaper Jeannette discovers what she wants to do with her life and what she later ends up doing: journalism. It is important that she not keep her work to herself or experience it alone, like her mother, but rather that it exist as a dialogue between her and the rest of the world.

If you don't want to sink, you better figure out how to swim.


Rex teaches Jeannette how to swim by literally forcing her to sink or swim. He repeatedly throws her into a sulfur spring in the desert, rescuing her when she sinks only to throw her back in again. Using these methods, Rex is able to train Jeannette to paddle and swim in order to avoid being thrown back into the water. This strategy is representative of Rose Mary and Rex's general approach to parenting. Refusing to coddle their children, they often present them with challenges, some life threatening, that the children are forced to handle.

I wondered if the fire had been out to get me. I wondered if all fire was related, like dad said all humans were related, if the fire that had burned me that day while I cooked hot dogs was somehow connected to the fire I had flushed down the toilet and the fire burning at the hotel. I didn't have the answers to those questions, but what I did know was that I lived in a world that at any moment could erupt into fire. It was the sort of knowledge that kept you on your toes.


After the hotel where they are staying burns down, a young Jeannette begins to think that fire is a recurring part of her life. She believes that her encounters with fire are all connected and impacted by each other. Most importantly, she realizes that her life is unpredictable and her status transient. Fire is sudden and damaging and capable of changing the trajectory of one's life in an instant. Jeannette's early experiences with fire foreshadow the combustive events to follow in her life.

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