5 Quotes from The Glass Castle and Why They Matter

By now you’re familiar with your summer reading assignment for the Buckeye Book Community (BBC). At orientation you heard how The Glass Castle gives you a unique connection to all first-year students. Ohio State might seem humongous, but you’ll have at least one thing in common with your 6,999 peers: you all have (presumably) read this book and therefore have something to chat about.

And, while the BBC is getting you connected to your peers, it also about getting you engaged with ideas, issues, faculty, staff, opportunities, and resources.

When you return to campus, you will use the book in University Survey. You’ll also have the opportunity to attend campus events that are focused on the themes of the book. Today, I want to highlight some of the events you can look forward to via some noteworthy quotes from The Glass Castle.

Maybe I should have cut him some slack. With his broken wing and lifetime of eating roadkill, he probably had a lot to be ungrateful about. Too much hard luck can create a permanent meanness of spirit in any creature. (p. 120)  

In this scene, Jeannette takes the perspective of the buzzard and attempts to understand the struggles he’s faced to influence his outlook and demeanor. This fall, the Multicultural Center will show scenes from “Stranger with a Camera,” and then attendees will discuss how bias and assumptions can affect our understanding others. Co-hosted by  the Appalachian Project, this interactive event will give students a chance to interact in small groups and hear from student and faculty facilitators!

After dinner, the whole family stretched out on the benches and the floor of the depot and read, with the dictionary in the middle of the room so we kids could look up words we didn’t know. Sometimes I discussed the definitions with Dad, and if we didn’t agree with what the dictionary writers said, we sat down and wrote a letter to the publishers. (p. 56)

Rex and Rose Mary had great intellectual influence on their children. The Walls grew up in an environment where learning was encouraged and Rex loved sharing his expertise on astronomy, physics, geology, and more with his children. In college you might not have your very own Rex Walls to help you do homework, but the University Libraries can assist! Attend a workshop to learn how to conduct research–you’ll even begin researching a topic related to concepts in The Glass Castle.

She’d been reading books on how to cope with an alcoholic, and they said that drunks didn’t remember their rampages, so if you cleaned up after them, they’d think nothing had happened. ‘Your father needs to see the mess he’s making of our lives,’ Mom said. But when Dad got up, he’d act as if all the wreckage didn’t exist, and no one discussed it with him. The rest of us had to get used to stepping over broken furniture and shattered glass. (p. 112-113)

Many of the troubling scenes in The Glass Castle relate to Rex’s episodes of alcoholism and gambling. Come to the Wellness Center‘s workshop about the truth of addiction. You’ll learn about the science behind addiction, in addition to understanding the stigma of alcoholism and how we can fight to destigmatize it.

No child is born a delinquent. They only became that way if nobody loved them when they were kids. Unloved children grow up to be serial murderers or alcoholics. (p. 83)

Jeannette and her siblings had each other to lean on for support, and they eventually became each other’s safety net for thriving as young adults. What about children who do not have a support system at home? How do children in our community survive when they are in situations similar to Jeannette’s? Dr. Natasha Slesnick, a professor in Human Sciences Administration, will lead a discussion on the experiences of homeless and struggling youth.

At times I felt like I was failing Maureen, like I wasn’t keeping my promise that I’d protect her–the promise I’d made to her when I held her on the way home from the hospital after she’d been born. I couldn’t get her what she needed most–hot baths, a warm bed, steaming bowls of Cream of Wheat before school in the morning–but I tried to do little things. (p. 206)

Did reading Jeannette’s story motivate you to help others? Do you wish you could help the hungry by providing food and resources? Look out for service opportunities in November during the Battle Against Hunger.

Stay tuned for event dates and times!