A girl in Welch who tries to befriend Jeannette and convince her to join the junior Ku Klux Klan.
The Grady Kids
Twelve children who also lived on Hobart Street. The children had no father and their mother was bed-ridden. The boys lived uninhibited and wildly. Rose Mary said they were an example of people who were worse off than her own children.
A forty-two year old man with a mental disability. The children in Welch played tricks on him and told him that the could go on a date with Jeannette if he did something for them. Many Saturday nights Jeannette had to explain to a crying and complaining Kenny that she did not date older men and she would not go out with him.
Ginnie Sue Pastor
The "town whore" in Welch, Ginnie is thirty-three years old with 9 children. She is married to Clarence Pastor who has black lung.
Ginnie Sue's husband. Clarence is plagued by black lung and spends his days sitting in his home.
Ginnie's oldest daughter. Kathy is teased at school for being the daughter of a whore. Kathy befriends Jeannette and convinces her to come to her home to tell her mother about life in California.
Sweet Man Pastor
Ginnie's youngest son.
A kid in Welch who bullies Jeannette and Brian and calls their family garbage. Brian and Jeannette team up to fend off Ernie and his gang in an effort they later called the 'Battle of Little Hobart Street'.
The Walls' neighbors on Little Hobart Street. Karen and Carol are the Noe girls.
The family dog. A Jack Russel terrier who lives with them on Little Hobart Street.
The iguana that Brian picks up while the family is living in Welch because it reminds him of the desert. Iggy freezes to death one night because the Walls could not afford to heat their house that winter.
Carrie Mae Blankenship
A classmate of Jeannette's in Welch. When Jeannette goes over to Carrie Mae's house she learns what a thermostat is and wishes that they had one in the house on Little Hobart Street to keep them warm during the winter.
Lucy Jo Rose
A fellow teacher of Jeannette's at Davy elementary school. Lucy Jo is ordered by the principal to give Rose Mary a ride to the school since the Walls family was still without a car. Lucy Jo resents Rose Mary for this duty and treats Rose Mary as though she is a dirty person.
Miss Jeannette Bivens
A teacher at Welch High School. Miss Bivens is Jeannette's faculty adviser for the school newspaper. She also was Rex's English teacher when he attended the school, and the teacher who convinced him to stay in school and get his diploma. Rex named Jeannette after this teacher.
A man who Rex bets in a bar playing pool. Robbie flirts with Jeannette and gets a little too aggressive which makes Jeannette resent her father for endangering her safety.
The owner of Becker's Jewel Box. He hires Jeannette as an assistant and pays her $40 an hour.
Ken Fink and Bob Gross
Two filmmakers who come from New York to Welch as part of a government cultural enrichment program. They encourage Lori to move to New York City if she is serious about becoming an artist.
The name of the piggy bank that the Walls children use to collect funds for the escape out of Welch.
The Sanders Family
Jeannette babysat for this family while living in Welch. When the family decides to move to Iowa they take Lori with them to work for the summer and promise to buy her a ticket to New York as compensation after the summer ends.
A native West Virginian, war hero, and aviation pioneer Chuck Yeager visits Welch high school to give a motivational speech. He is Rex's hero and Rex is very excited to hear that he is coming. Jeannette conducts an interview with him for the school newspaper.
Lori's friend in New York. He picks up Jeannette from the train station when she arrives in New York City.
Owner, publisher and editor-in-chief of The Phoenix, a newspaper Jeannette interns with during her first summer in New York.
Jeannette's first husband. Eric is from a wealthy family and company owner. He lives on Park Avenue and invites Jeannette to move in with him after she graduates from Barnard.
an African American classmate of Jeannette’s in Welch. Dinitia and her followers bully Jeannette at Welch Elementary. The two later become friends after Dinitia witnesses Jeannette helping a neighbor escape a dog attack. Dinitia becomes pregnant in seventh grade and is arrested for stabbing her mother's boyfriend to death. It is implied that her mother's boyfriend sexually assaulted Dinitia.
Jeannette’s teacher at Welch Elementary School. She accuses Jeannette for thinking that she is better than her and the other students in West Virginia.
Jeannette's professor at Barnard.She challenges Jeannette's views on the homeless and Jeannette is too ashamed to tell her that her opinions are informed by her own life.
Smells of whiskey and lives with his parents. He is extremely happy to meet the children of his brother and smothers them with hugs and kisses.
Rex’s father. He speaks in a mumble and has short, white, hair.
Rex’s mother who lives in West Virginia. She refuses to be called ‘Grandma’ because it makes her feel old. Erma has a grumpy disposition and asks her grandchildren to refrain from laughing in her home.
Jeannette’s fourth grade teacher in Phoenix
the name the children give to Rose Mary’s wooden mannequin which she used for her artwork.
Jeannette’s third grade teacher in Phoenix. She moves Jeannette to a gifted reading group.
a half-indian woman and neighbor of the Walls in Battle Mountain. Her yard is full of dogs and enclosed by a fence. She calls Billy Deel “the devil with a crew cut”.
Grandma Smith (Lilly Smith)
Rose Mary’s mother and a former teacher. She is the opposite of her daughter and is very particular about how things should be done. Grandma Smith’s strictness is partly to blame for Rose Mary’s lenient and flexible parent style. Throughout their travels the Walls family would sometimes stay in Grandma Smith’s house in Phoenix.
Rose Mary’s brother.
Billy moves to Battle Mountain when Jeannette is eight and he is eleven. He lives with his father in a house close to the Walls’ home. He is tall and skinny with blue eyes and an uneven head.
a prostitute who lives in the Green Lantern. Rex brings her to dinner with him and Brian on Brian’s birthday.
a wounded Buzzard that Rex brings home to the family in Battle Mountain to live with them. The bird is grumpy and refuses food and Jeannette is glad when he finally heals and flies away.
Jeannette’s friend in Battle Mountain. Jeannette scrapes her thigh at Carla’s house but Rose Mary refuses to take Jeannette to the hospital, remarking that people were too quick to go to the doctor even after only a minor injury.
Jeannette’s second grade teacher who is prone to anger and violent outbreaks. She is fired when she brings a loaded rifle to school to motivate her students to do work.
Lilly Ruth Maureen Walls (Maureen)
Rex and Rose Mary’s youngest daughter, she is named after her two grandmothers Lilly and Erma Ruth.
Jeannette’s first grade teacher in Blythe, California.
Mary Charlene Walls
Rex and Rose Mary’s second daughter, Mary Charlene dies at only 9-months old one night in her crib. Her death prompts Rex’s gambling and drinking habits.
The Walls’ cat who has a missing ear. He is grey and white. After losing Tinkerbell, Jeannette tries to play with Quixote but the cat scratches and growls at her. This prompts Mr. Walls to throw the cat out of the car, abandoning him in Arizona.
Rex and Rose Mary’s first child, Lori is born bald and mute until her third year when she her red hair begins to grow and she begins speaking. As eldest, she often takes charge of the household when neither Rex nor Rose Mary is up to the job.
Jeannette’s younger brother. When he is born Brian is seizing and his skin is blue from lack of oxygen. He seldom whines or cries and has a tough demeanor. Like other Walls children, Brian has red hair. He also has freckles on his nose. Brian is very protective of his sister Lori and likes to play in nature. He loses faith in his father at a young age.
Rose Mary Walls
Jeannette's mother. Rose Mary enjoys art and dislikes rules. She frequently withdraws into her own world and is incredibly self-involved, sometimes to the point of placing her children in harm. She calls herself an "excitement addict" and is most pleased when life is an adventure.
Jeannette’s father. Jeannette describes him as smelling like cigarettes, whisky, and hair tonic. Rex invents credentials in order to get jobs, which he never keeps for long. A dreamer, Mr. Walls creates many fantastical stories to explain realities of life to his children. For instance, when they have to move because of bill collectors, Rex instead tells his children that they are being chased by FBI agents. Rex is plagued by drunkenness and gambling addictions.
The black mutt Jeannette’s family owned when they lived in Southern Arizona. JuJu’s death leads to Jeannette’s first memory of her brother Brian crying.
The main character and author of the memoir, Jeannette is a hard-working and intelligent child. She is the favorite child of her father, Rex and she is able to believe in him for the longest out of all the children. Jeanette becomes a journalist later in life and is married twice.
Jeannette's second husband. She falls madly in love with John who also moved around a lot in his childhood and whose mother grew up in an Appalachian village not far from Welch.
The Glass Castle Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Glass Castle is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
I think the whole story is a balance between turbulence and order. Rex describes this concept of physics after Brian and Jeannette almost die in a fire they set while playing with toxic waste. He warns them that no rules exist in the Boundary...
In this context, the word "poor" carries dual meaning. One, the family is essentially poor.... they have nothing. Their car is inoperable, they haven't enough food.... their rolling through life without a net. On the other hand, the word also...