What are some symbols in the Glass Castle?

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crmhaske eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are many symbols that the author uses in the glass castle.  The first is of the glass castle itself, which in its transparency and emptiness reflects how impractical such a dream home is in the desert where the heat of the sun would be too much.  The desert symbolized the family’s life, which was barren of possessions and regular access to running water just like the sparse and arid climate of the desert.  The third symbol in the novel was the cactus.  Just like a cactus that drinks as much as possible when it rains, the family did not eat regularly and when they did they would stuff themselves.  Whenever the family moved, Jeanette, allowed to bring only one object, would bring her favourite rock.  This rock symbolized what the family was missing.  A rock is strong, and solid.  It is permanent and difficult to move, unlike the family which lacked permanence.  And finally, like a Joshua tree that grows in any which direction in order to survive, the children were forced to be equally adaptable in order to survive the neglect in their lives.