This is what I imagine the Jeanette’s home in the beginning of the novel to look like. I imagine this town to be a trailer park because I think it would fit in with, what at that point was, a nomadic lifestyle. I can see Jeanette making her hotdogs in front of the trailer, the whole family leaving in a rush (they’re skedaddling!), the melted barbie being left behind on the dirt ground, and Quixote sulking around the trailer, depressed that he’s been left behind.
The use of the nickname mountain goat is foreshadowing in the sense that mountain goats are creatures that have to be nimble and get past great obstacles. Jeanette proves herself to be worthy of that title, considering the hardships shes gone through and the fact that she still ended up living a happy successful life shows that above all else Jeanette’s determination and persistence allowed her to move on with her life, much like a mountain goat.
They might decide that it wasn’t worth the drive back to retrieve me; that, like Quixote the cat, I was a bother and a burden they could do without. Jeanette pg. 30
This is an allusion to pg. 18, when Quixote the cat was thrown out of the car because it was an unnecessary burden on the family. Jeanette has just fallen out of the car so shes made the connection that like the cat, she’s no longer wanted.
When Rex takes Jeanette to the zoo to see the cheetah, he actually helps Jeanette over the gate to stand with the creature, much to the surprise of all the other zoo-goers. This characterization because it, once again, supports the idea that Rex genuinely doesn’t care about the opinions of other people, and that he has no fear of nature, in fact he embraces it more than he does civilization. Rex firmly believes in the power of nature over nurture as shown throughout the book in the way he teaches his children and the way he conducts himself.
I thought Dad would come around to our side once he’d heard what had happened, and I tried to explain.
"I don’t care what happened!" he yelled.
"But we were just protecting ourselves," I said.
"Brian’s a man, he can take it," he said. "I don’t want to hear another word of this. Do you hear me?" He was shaking his head, but wildly,almost as if he thought he could keep out the sound of my voice.He wouldn’t even look at me.
After Dad had gone back upstairs to tie into Erma’s hooch and we kids were all in bed, Brian but my toe to try to make me laugh, but I kicked him away. We all lay silent in the darkness.
"Dad was really weird."
This scene serves as characterization for Rex because it helps the reader understand his relationship with his mother and makes the reader question whether or not these kinds of things happened to Rex as a child. It also is the only scene in the entire book where Rex goes against the children defending themselves, adding more weight to the fact that he wanted to shut them out completely and furthering the idea that Rex was molested as a child.
When Mom wanted to know what it was the doctors and nurses were doing that was so nice, I told her about the chewing gum.
"Ugh," she said. She disapproved of chewing gum, she went on. It was a disgusting low class habit, and the nurse should have consulted her before encouraging me in such vulgar behavior.
This passage is ironic because Rose Mary makes a huge fuss over a piece of chewing gum and its low classiness, yet she’s the same person who hoards her food when the family’s low on it, and she’s the same person that chooses to be homeless in New York City. This would have to be dramatic irony because the readers know that Rose Mary is a less than high class woman, but she doesn’t realize the irony of her statements, therefore it must be dramatic irony.
Jeanette pg. 34
This passage is an allusion to the earliest scene in the book, when Jeanette gets burned while cooking hot dogs. Jeanette at this point is making the connection that her world isn’t a safe one and that her life, in particular, isn’t a stable or secure one. So far, at the age of 5, Jeanette has already “skedaddled” 11 times, according to Jeanette and Lori (pg. 29), and she is understanding that her life is combustible and constantly changing.
- Jeanette pg. 46
This whole scene is an allusion to an earlier scene in which Jeanette is “trapped” in the hospital, only to be busted out by her father….Rex Walls-style. Similarly, both cases conclude in Rex Walls running out of a hospital and trying to escape with a patient without getting caught.
Even though her students liked her, Mom hated teaching. She had to leave Maureen, who was not yet two, with a woman whose drug dealer husband was serving time in the state prison. But what really bothered Mom was that her mother had been a teacher and had pushed Mom into getting a teaching degree so she would have a job to fall back on just in case her dreams of becoming an artist didn’t pan out. Mom felt Grandma Smith had lacked faith in her artistic talent, and by becoming a teacher now, she was acknowledging that her mother had been right all along. At night she sulked and muttered under her breathe. In the morning she slept late and pretended to be sick. It was up to Lori, Brian, and me to get her out of bed and see to it that she was dressed and at school on time.
"I’m a grown woman now," Mom said almost every morning. "Why can’t I do what i want to do?" -Jeanette pg. 73,74 Rose Mary pg. 74
This entire exchange is ironic because Rose Mary is the one acting like a child, being taken care of by her children rather than the other way around, yet she doesn’t seem to realize how far from being an adult she really is. This is dramatic irony because the audience knows that Rose Mary acts more like a child than her children, yet she still expects to be treated like an adult because she can’t see how immature she really is.
I love the desert, too. When the sun was in the sky, the sand would be so hot that it would burn your feet if you were the kind of kid who wore shoes, but since we always went barefoot, our soles were as tough and thick as cowhide. -Jeanette Walls pg. 21
The literary device used is a simile (soles as tough…) which conveys the idea that the Walls’ children really were children of the desert who could walk around barefoot because their feet had adapted to their environment. I think it also serves as a sign that at the time the children might not have had shoes to be wearing while in the desert. The picture of the hobbits relate to the simile because hobbits are best known for their feet being large and extraordinarily thick-soled, which is why they prefer to be barefoot at all times.