Are Jeannette's justifications for her father's behavior and her mother's neglect valid or has she been taught to believe in a false reality?

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lmetcalf | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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This is an interesting question, but one each reader would have to answer for him or herself. Clearly, Jeannette walls grew up in this shockingly dysfunctional family situation and survived. She actually seems to have walked out the "other side" of it in a remarkably normal state, but one can't help but wonder how all of that history affected her. Because she made such a conscience choice to live her life in a completely different way than her parents, I would surmise that she knows full well that her parents are mentally disturbed and never officially diagnosed. The entire time I was reading I wondered if the mom was bipolar. Her erratic highs and lows would certainly suggest that, but as a child, all Jeannette would know is that "that is just the way Mom is." Her father has/had obvious addiction problems, and she knew that even as a child, but he is still her father and there will always be a relationship there. I don't think the end of the novel suggests that she lives in a "false reality;" she seems to be very aware that her parents live a way that is "not normal" and perhaps even dangerous, but there is a limit that Jeannette understands: she can't MAKE them be something they aren't or live in a manner that SHE wants for them. Jeannette cannot make her parents seek, much less receive, mental help that they don't want or don't think they need. She has to accept the things she can do, as well as accept her parents for what they are at this point in time.

 

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