Why is the Tinkerbell doll symbolic of Jeanette and her experience in her home in The Glass Castle?

The Tinkerbell doll is symbolic of Jeanette's experience in her home because the character represents magic and fantasy. Jeannette wants to believe in the fantasies of her father, but ultimately she learns that magic won't save her and that she will need to be strong enough to save herself.

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As a character, Tinkerbell often represents magic, fantasy, and the ideal of never growing up. Jeannette gravitates to this as her favorite toy perhaps because she exists in the world of fantasy and perpetual childhood. The ideas of her father, from the glass castle to the Prospector, are objects of his fantasies. Rex refuses to live a stable life and earn a dependable income for his family. He is intent on being free and heading in any direction at a moment's notice. Although a father, he has never grown up into a responsible man.

After Jeannette suffers burns and experiences her father rush her out of the hospital before she can fully heal, Jeannette clearly begins to process her pain in terms of her favorite toy. She inflicts a similar pain on Tinkerbell, holding a match close to her face until her features begin to melt. Perhaps she wants someone to share this sense of pain she has experienced and cannot share with any responsible adult in her life—there are none to be found.


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