The Glass Castle: Section 3, Chapters 52-55
Summary – Section Three, Chapters Fifty Two, Fifty Three, Fifty Four and Fifty Five
As spring approached, various obstacles arose which could have stopped Lori going to New York. She botched a test, for example, and another time their father ruined her sculpture which would have helped her achieve a scholarship.
Jeannette said she should still go to New York even if she was not accepted into an art school and could take the money they saved to live off until she found a job. In May, though, she found the piggy bank had been broken into and Dad went missing for three days. When he came home he denied it, but half-grinned at Jeannette as if to charm her. He offered them some money, which they let fall to the floor.
She reassured Lori she would still leave, and thought if her sister did not she would not either. She bought a purse and wore this on a belt under her clothes. When it became too full, she shoved the money in a sock and hid this in a hole in a wall.
They only had around $37 the week school finished, but one of the teachers offered Jeannette a job for the summer which she passed on to Lori. This comprised of babysitting through the summer in Iowa and paid $200. Lori was also given the fare to New York.
When she left, she hugged everybody except Dad (and still had not spoken to him since he took their money) and as the car drove away she did not look back once.
In Chapter Fifty Three, Jeannette was going into 10th grade and Miss Bivens made her the news editor of the paper. She tried to raise the circulation of the paper with various schemes, and it doubled when she started up a column called ‘Birthday Corner’. This listed the names of students who had a birthday coming up that month.
Chapter Fifty Four relates how Lori wrote regularly from New York and told them how she loved it there. Since Jeannette started 11th grade she had been counting off the months until she joined her.
The school guidance counsellor had tried to persuade her to stay local, but Jeannette realized she was not even that interested in graduating from this school and could leave home in five months.
She told her parents about her plans and her father left without saying a word. Her mother looked sad and Jeannette told her she would write. Her mother replied that she was not upset because she would miss her but because ‘“you get to go to New York and I’m stuck here. It’s not fair”’.
Lori and Brian both approved, but her father barely spoke to her. However, one night in spring he came to her and asked her to look at his old blueprints of the Glass Castle. She had not seen these for ages and they had not spoken of it since the foundations had been filled with garbage.
He told her he was re-configuring the layout and because Lori had gone Jeannette’s room would be bigger. She stared at these precise plans and then said that he would never build it. He asked if she had faith in him and she replied that she was leaving in three months anyway. He said that she could study locally and work at The Welch Daily News and swore that he would build the Glass Castle. She told him to go ahead and build it, but not for her as she was leaving.
In the final chapter of this section, it is recounted that on her last day of school Miss Bivens told her she thought she would do all right ‘up there’. She packed her clothes and bound copies of The Maroon Wave and wanted to leave everything else of the past behind. She gave her geode to Maureen.
Her bus left at 7.10 am and her mother said she would not be getting up to see her off as she was not an early riser and knew what the station looked like. She added that such big farewells are sentimental.
When she left the house that morning, she saw her father sat outside and he insisted on carrying her suitcase. At the station, he pulled out his knife (which they had used for Demon Hunting) and gave it to her. He said he would feel better knowing she had it. He also told her if things did not work out she could always come back home and he would be there for her. She knew this was true, but also knew she would never be coming back.
Analysis – Section Three, Chapters Fifty Two, Fifty Three, Fifty Four and Fifty Five
The passage where her father tried to persuade her to stay in Welch and promised again to build the Glass Castle is one of the most moving in this work and exemplifies the bond between the father and daughter. It also emphasizes how her father had the intentions if not the ability to help his children, but again one must remember that this is written from Jeannette’s perspective and is, therefore, biased in favor of him rather than her mother at times.