Jeannette Walls is the author, the narrator, and the main character of this story. She is an adult when the memoir begins, but shortly after the first chapter, she starts telling the story of her life beginning with when she was three years old. By the end of the story, Jeannette has journeyed through her childhood, into adolescence, and then returns to her adult self, a career woman working in New York City.

Jeannette is the second oldest of four children. As a youth, she did not find herself attractive. She was very tall, very thin, and had somewhat large, protruding teeth. Her classmates often teased her about her looks. She was also self-conscious, as a teen, about a large, puckered scar on her abdomen, the result of the bad burn and the resultant skin graft she had to have when she was three. Though her parents often kept her out of school because they moved around so much, when she did attend, Jeannette did well.

Her parents were often negligent in their care of Jeannette and her siblings. However, Jeannette found a way to love them. She retells her story without anger and judgment of her mother and father. She found strength within herself to counteract her parent’s lack of maturity and substance. She worked hard to bring in money for food before she was legally old enough to hold a job. When she was seventeen, she left home and together with her older sister, Lori, made a life for herself, earning a scholarship from an Ivy League college and gaining a bachelor’s degree.

Rose Mary Walls is Jeannette’s mother. She is a painter. Many of the stories that Jeannette tells of her mother reflect her mother’s attitude of always wanting to paint rather than to tend to her children. Rose Mary appears to be a selfish woman and is, at one point, caught eating a candy bar in secret when her children have not had food for several days. Rose Mary is emotionally detached from her children. Her attitude is one of leaving the children to fend for themselves. She believed that by encouraging self-sufficiency, she was making her children stronger.Though she herself was raised in comfort, Rose Mary professes the benefits of anti-capitalism to the point that she is willing to live in a shack without running water and little or no heat.

Rex Walls is Jeannette’s father. Through Jeanette’s eyes, her father is a genius. He is very clever, has a...

(The entire section is 966 words.)