Self Reliance In The Glass Castle

1063 Words5 Pages
Self reliance is a transcendentalist concept advocated by Ralph Waldo Emerson. He famously said, “What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think”(364). When practicing self-reliance, In the Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls grows up depending on no one and is forced to practice self-reliance; however, this belief is detrimental to her self-confidence and self-esteem. She damages her dignity when she denies aid from others when she is not capable of relying on herself, and she damages her self-confidence when she attempts to improve her life in Welch but is not able to change anything. Jeannette’s self-reliant behavior is frequently shown through her refusal of help from others. On one trip to retrieve her father from a bar, Jeannette’s father is so drunk that he can no longer walk. Another man offers to drive them home, and…show more content…
She attempts to dig the foundation for the Glass Castle next to their decrepit house on Little Hobart Street. However, after it is finished, her father orders them to dump garbage into the pit. Jeannette does not have the courage to disagree, and their carefully dug foundation is reduced to a landfill: “‘It's a temporary measure,’ Dad told me. He explained that he was going to hire a truck to cart the garbage to the dump all at once. But he never got around to that, either, and as Brian and I watched, the hole for the Glass Castle's foundation slowly filled with garbage”(155). As Jeannette watches, powerless to help, the neighborhood children mock the Walls children for “[living] in garbage ‘cause you are garbage!”(165). In reaction, Jeannette does not have a satisfactory response because “what [he] had said was true: We did live in garbage”(165). The ridicule causes the other children to shun Jeannette as they
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