How could Jeanette's mother's knowledge of and attitude toward the natural world be characterized in The Glass Castle?

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charsteph88 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In The Glass Castle, Jeanette Walls writes about her childhood spent moving around frequently, during which she spent a large part of her time homeless. Her parents had strange ideas about the world and the space they occupied within it, sometimes not even realizing or admitting to themselves that they were homeless or that such a lifestyle was detrimental to their children's lives. In fact, according to Jeanette's mother, the world is just full of rules and boundaries that are meant to be broken. Her ideals could be considered "noncomformist." As an artist, she sees the beauty in everything, even the most gnarled trees, and spends most of her time painting and drawing instead of making money to spend on food for her children.

Rose Mary Walls is a free spirit who is transfixed by the beauty and wildness of nature. Her parents met while cliff-diving into clear blue waters, and Jeanette recalls a time when she was a child and they were driving through the desert. Her mother became obsessed with a Joshua tree and insisted on painting it, saying the tree needed the wind to survive. This is similar to her nature as well. She wanted to lead a bohemian, nomadic lifestyle, and valued the self-sufficiency that could be found in nature; it was something she strived to cultivate in others. For her, the chaotic aspect of nature is something to aspire to and find comfort in because it breeds resiliency. 

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