Saturday, November 10, 2007

Poverty. Who's To Blame?

Poverty. From it stems off more issues than any other social issue facing people today. From it, people are more likely to become addicted to drugs and alcohol, get a poor education, and be drawn into criminal lifestyles. In some cities, it seems that the rates of people in poverty are only climbing to new heights. Unfortunately, a large majority of these people are young children. They are unable to change their situation because they are born into a world that their parents’ poor choices have made for them. For some children, like the Walls children, they find a way out.
In The Glass Castle, who is to blame for the horrible living conditions of the family? Personally, I blame both of the parents. Firstly, the father is to blame because of his addiction to alcohol. Every time the family comes into a little bit of money, he wastes it all with no concern to how it will affect his children. I also blame the mother, maybe even just as much. In the beginning of the memoir when the children find a ring that could buy them food and decent clothing, the mother keeps it for herself. Not thinking of her starving children, she keeps it out of selfishness. Also, when the mother actually got a paying job, she often refused to go, being to lazy and greedy to get out of bed. She cared more about her tiredness and unwillingness to work more than the lives of her family.

Now that I think of it, I almost blame the mother more than the father. In the end, we find out that the mother owns a large sum of property worth a million dollars. While the children go through life scavenging for food, wearing ragged clothing, and fighting over who gets to sleep with the dogs for warmth in the winter, the mother could have easily solved all of their problems, probably for life, with this money. Also, the mother could have left the father. In all reality she would have been much better off.

When the children leave their family for New York, they made the best decision they ever would. They had been born into a life they could do nothing about. They could not solve their father’s addiction, nor could they do anything about their mother’s depression and selfishness. In leaving to start new lives, they broke away from poverty. When the parents follow them to the city, we see how unwilling the parents are to finding a new life as well. For the first winter, they live on the streets. Then, they find a home in no better condition than the broken down home in Welsh. This may sound horrible, but I do not feel bad at all for the parents. They had so many options to change their situation, even if only in a small way. Instead of trying to make their lives better for both themselves and their family, they ignored their problem and acted as if life was just one big adventure. In my opinion, the roles of the children and the parents was completely backwards in every way. It seemed as though the children wanted a better life for the parents more than the parents wanted decent lives for their children.

If children brought into these situations can change their lives for the better, why cant the adults?


FutureDevilDog said...

I think children can change a situation easier than adults because they are still more open minded than people who have lived longer. It is proven that children can change easier than adults. The Walls children banded together and looked at the realities of situations because they were directly exposed to them. Both of the parents had issues that they were unable to move past. Maureen was always away at her friends' houses, which is why she ended up having major issues. She did not bond in that way with the other children. It could be said that the parents were week, but I think that they just had too many problems and never should have had children. I know people that are exactly like that, and they need help. They need to be help themselves and be helped before they can help their children.

lil ray of sunshine said...

You presented some great views in your blog and truly support them. At first I felt bad for the mother because of the way the father treats her, her depression, etc., but after reading all of the examples you present, I definitely don't feel bad for her.

She could have easily solved their problems by selling her land and leaving her husband, but did she? No. I'm glad that the children decided to take action and move to New York. This story is a great example of how children can take their lives and turn them around.

Drubester said...

I approached this memoir in a different manner. I’m known as a very black-and-white guy, but I didn’t try to place the blame for poverty on a single person. I found that there is too much blame dripping from this memoir to single out one person. Of course, there were times when I thought it was entirely the father’s fault (check out my blog), but I also went through phases thinking it was the mother’s fault. However, it is too difficult (if not impossible) to point the blame on a single person with the information provided in the memoir; there is too much confounding. Also, I reached this conclusion because Jeannette does not want us as the readers to single out a specific person. She does not take a specific side in the memoir. I don’t think she knows herself. It is possible that she’s still trying to figure it out, so, she leaves the reader to decide.


Rigby and the Walrus said...

You presented a lot of solid points and really made me think about my perception of the mother and father. However, I think when we say the mother should have done this or that differently or the father should have realized that his drinking was denying his children food, we are subjectively imposing rational solutions to a situation we couldn't ever fully understand, unless experienced. To us it seems unnnatural for the mother to value her estate and ring above providing the necessities for her children, and I absolutely agree that this is horrible. However, she was ill and she was irrational because of it. The same goes for the father. He is lost in his addiction and controlled solely by it. I'm not trying to make excuses for these two, and I agree that they should have had more responsibility for their children, however, I feel they were incapable of such responsibility. Like Caitlin said, some people just shouldn't have children.

turtlebob106 said...

I totally agreed with you. That it was Rex and Rose Mary who were to blame, that they had the opportunties to better their lives. The book was frustrating in that all these chances to make for a better life were not taken, and it was almost like they didn't care about each other or the children, they only cared about the gratification they could get out of anything (ring, alcohol). Why didn't they try to make their lives work? But after we discussed the social issues in class it all made sense. I think that they wanted to help out their family, but they had obstacles they needed to overcome before that could have been accomplished. Rose Mary was obviously mentally sick and was not suitable to do anything until she got medical care. But she couldn't get that because she 1) didn't (want to) recognize the problem, 2) didn't have the money. Rex needed rehab greatly but once again his lifestyle was preventing that. Everything is interconnected and all knotted together. I mean he couldn't fixed that until he solved that problem, but that relied on something else.

ccmeame said...

I agree with you in your view that the parents are to blame for the extreme poverty the Walls' children had to live in. However, to the question posed at the end I think the proper phrasing should be why don't the adults change their lives. You pointed out in your post the mother was clearly capable of doing so, but she chose to starve and allow her children to starve. Like you, I have no sympathy for her.

The Hardship said...

My teacher, Mr. Richardson, told me to leave a comment. However, I think I would have left one anyways. I think your use of writing about this subject was very intresting and above all moving in a way. You were absolutley right about them needing help although you make a good point I can't help to think that the parents need just as much help if not more. The parents need to stop the drinking and alchohol violence before the kids get help because its more of the parents doing to help the kids. They can/could have gotten good jobs and started supporting them. But it was their stubborness that lead to their downfall. All in all though I think your passage made it clear on what we were looking for in the book.

Justrailia said...

I agree with you!
Rex and Rose Mary are most definitly the ones to blame in this particular situation. No child should have to live in poverty, no mattter the circumstance. However, I blame Rex and Rose Mary equally. Rex's alcoholism problems and Rose Mary's issues with depression and contentness with nothing equally contribute to the amount of poverty the Walls family experiences.