Theme of Adversity in the Novel Glass Castle
Adversity is something that everyone deals with on a daily basis. Whether it be at home, school or work, struggles are all around us. It is these daily hardships we all deal with that will ultimately define who we are as a people. Adversity makes one stronger because it builds tenacity.
If adversity makes one stronger, then Jeannette Walls from The Glass Castle would be Hercules and it is no wonder why she became so successful later in her adult life. Take for example when Jeannette is reflecting on when she used to live in Battle Mountain as a kid, “If we asked mom about food … she’d simply shrug and say she couldn’t make something out of nothing. We kids usually kept our hunger to ourselves, but were always trying to think of ways to get our hands on it”(Walls 68). These struggles were what lit the fire in Jeannette to succeed in life with the gifts she was given. For her this gift was writing. When she was working in New York City as a journalist she stated, “I was invited to dozens of parties a week: art-gallery openings, benefit balls, movie premieres, book parties, and private dinners in marble floored dining rooms. I met real estate developers, agents, heiresses, fund managers, lawyers, clothing designers, professional basketball players…”(Walls 270). This shows just how much an impact adversity as a kid made on Jeannette as she became a strong and successful person as an adult. If Jeannette’s parents taught her anything it was that just getting by was not going to be enough for her. The struggles she faced taught her to persevere through the hardest of times, the importance of hard work, and good ethics: all of which were vital to her success as an adult.
Similarly Jeannette’s brother, Brian, also faced a great deal of affliction as a child that he was able to use to his advantage and helped him positively govern his adult life. For instance when the Walls family is living in Welch, Jeannette walked into her grandfather’s room to find Erma (her Grandmother), “…kneeling on the floor in front of Brian, grabbing at the crotch of his pants, squeezing and kneading … Brian, his cheeks wet with tears, was holding his hands protectively between his legs”(Walls 146). This dark moment in The Glass Castle is greatly contrasted towards the end of the book when Jeannette gives us an update on Brian’s life saying, “Brian had become a detective, supervising in a special unit that investigated in organized crime. He and his wife had split up … but he consoled himself by buying and renovating a wreck of a townhouse in Brooklyn … Also, at least two women were after him to marry them. He was doing pretty darn well”(Walls 286). This glimpse into Brian’s life just goes to show how adversity makes people stronger. At a young age being sexually exploited by a family member can be a truly harrowing experience, but in the end it only made him stronger. As an adult, Brian signed up for the police force the first day he could and from that point on has spent his entire life serving justice. By doing this he makes it clear that his hardship was just an obstacle, teaching him to persevere when difficult times arrive. This characteristic certainly carried on into his adult life and is without question why he is so successful. Brian is a true example of how people become stronger through experiencing hardships.
While adversity is both challenging and difficult to endure, it is ultimately important because overcoming those obstacles helps to build perseverance. It is important to wake up every morning with your head held high, ready to fight the day’s struggles. It is how you deal with those struggles that will define you as a person.
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