The Glass Castle

Describe the incident at the opening of the book. How does Jeannette walls react? What does her mother later say in reaction to her daughters view of the situation?

Part 1: a women on the street

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On an evening in March Jeannette Walls is riding in a taxi headed to a party when she sees her mother digging through a trashcan. Walls has not seen her mother for months and she is struck by the reality that the woman who raised her presently appears no different to passersby than any other homeless person on the city streets. Jeannette quickly curtails her reminiscence out of fear that someone will notice her. Only a few blocks away from the party, she fears that her fixation on the woman by the dumpster would arouse suspicion. To avoid being seen she lowers herself in her seat and tells the taxi driver to take her to her home on Park Avenue. She cannot risk being seen by any other attendees of the party lest they discover her ‘secret’, that she is the daughter of a homeless woman in New York. The driver turns around and Walls, like the strangers on the street, passes by her mother without saying anything to her. When Walls returns to her apartment she feels ashamed for hiding from her mother. She manges to track her mother down for lunch at a Chinese food restaurant. As predicted, during lunch Jeannette’s mother first denies that she needs help from her daughter and then requests electrolysis treatment. Frustrated, Jeannette insists that her mother improve the quality of her life but her mother quickly refuses, accusing Jeannette of being the one in need of help since her “values are all confused”. She accuses Jeannette of having “confused” values once again after discovering what happened the night Jeannette hid in the taxi. She says that instead of hiding her past and being embarrassed, Jeannette ought to instead tell the truth