How to Cope with Poverty Essay Example

In 2012 in the United States, over 43.1 million people were impoverished, about 12.7% of the population. Growing up in the 1950s, Jeannette Walls was one of them. In all the different environments she spent her childhood, Walls learned many lessons that helped her become a best-selling-author. In her memoir, The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls learns not to take anything for granted in Vegas, how to enjoy the struggles of life while she is driving east, and forgiveness in Welch.

Even though the Walls’ are nomads and don’t have a very stable family, it took a tragedy to teach this to young Jeannette Walls. After the hotel the Wallses are staying at in Vegas burns down, Jeannette finally realizes how easy it is for their life to take a turn for the worse and how fragile it is. “What I did know was that I lived in a world that at any moment could erupt into fire. It was the sort of knowledge that kept you on your toes”(Walls, 34). From this incident, she learns to not take anything for granted and to be ready for whatever comes along. In New York, when she is not living a life she loves, her sense of not taking anything for granted and love of her former chaotic lifestyle eventually leads her back to the mountains. In these ways, Jeannette learns that her life can fall apart easily and is looking for ways to increase its stability.

One way that Walls tries to increase this stability is by learning how to see the world through a positive lens. When the Walls family leave for the East, a crowd of people surround their old, broken-down car and watch them drive away. Jeannette is very embarrassed and doesn’t like being the center of attention. Rose Mary responds by saying, “‘Life is a drama full of tragedy and comedy,’ Mom told me. ‘You should learn to enjoy the comic episodes a little more’”(129). She explains that life has its ups and downs but making the downs ups is part of what makes it special. To enjoy the struggles of life by seeing it through the lens of positivity is a skill. She uses this advice later in her life when she makes parts of her book more lighthearted than they were in the moment. Even though positivity is a big theme in Jeannette’s life, sometimes it is hard to stay positive.

Some people in Jeannette Walls’ life make it hard for her to be positive so she has to learn how to forgive them for that. When the family arrives in Welch, she meets her father’s side of the family and learns how her father's childhood shaped him. She immediately feels a strong dislike to the family, especially her grandma Erma, and expresses these feelings to her mother who responds, “‘Everyone has something good about them,’ she said. ‘You have to find the redeeming quality and love the person for that’”(144). In this way, she learns how to look beyond the things she doesn’t like about a person and try to be open-minded. She uses this later in life as she forgives her father before he dies and throughout her life, she gives many people, especially Rex, second chances. This helps Jeannette try to stay positive even when it is hard and help the people around her forgive and be forgiven.

In The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls learns many lessons from her impoverished childhood. She learns not to take anything for granted while living in Vegas, how to enjoy the struggles of life while she is driving East, and forgiveness living in Welch. Jeannette’s way of moving on from the beautiful struggles of life and forgiving people for their wrongs helps her stabilize her unusual childhood, become the person she is today, and tell us her story.


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