The Glass Castle Novel Vs. Film

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Updated: Nov 30, 2023
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The Glass Castle Novel Vs. Film

This essay will compare the novel “The Glass Castle” with its film adaptation. It will discuss the similarities and differences in the portrayal of themes, characters, and plot. You can also find more related free essay samples at PapersOwl about Film.

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The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls is based on the true story of Jeannette Walls impoverished childhood. “About 15 million children in the United States are living in poverty” (National Center for Children in Poverty, 2019). Children don’t get to choose what kind of world and scenary they are brought into, but could alter their own pathway to not let their children grow up in the same circumstances.That is what Jeannette Walls is seen to do in The Glass Castle novel, yet this depiction in book is vastly different from the films story.

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While the film does reflect themes from the novel, Jeannette’s journey from her impoverished childhood to Park Avenue are flipped around as if they book doesn’t even exist.The Glass Castle film does no justice to the New York Times Bestseller. The film turns Jeannettes partner into a full fledged character though in the novel he was only brought up in a couple of sentences. The film makes David a huge component of the narrative though he’s a character that has little to no importance in the novel. During the course of the novel, Rex (Jeannette’s father) works different jobs to form a income while Rose Mary (Jeannette’s mother) uses her teaching certificate to work in understaffed schools. Rex uses her paycheck as his funds for drinking yet in the movie we see Rose Mary with no job. The film shows Rose Mary with no job and Rex rarely working. Rex is a drunk and relies on alcohol to bring himself a “sense of happiness or satisfaction” (UNC School of Medicine). Rex didn’t control his alcohol intake ultimately causing him to become a alcoholic. In the novel and film Rose Mary is shown as someone who may have problems mentally because of the way she acts and her disability to keep her family together.

During the film and novel, the act of Rex teaching Jeannette how to swim occurs differently. In the film the Wall’s family goes to the pool “..when the town’s Black population goes swimming.” In the film Rex decides it is the right time to teach Jeannette how to swim by repeatedly throwing her in the pool, but he beats up the lifeguard who questions his parenting abilities. Following that altercation the family decides it’s best to move to Welch, West Virginia. In the novel we see how much of a difference this part of her story is. Everything that occured in the films one scene occured over the course of the book. Jeannette’s father teachers her to swim by throwing her repeatedly into the spring in Nevada. The lifeguard incident never occurs during the novel, yet the film used multiple scenes in the novel to make one strong scene in the film.

During the novel we see dangerous or unsafe situations the children had to endure, yet in the film the situations were minimized and didn’t make their parents seem as bad as they were potrayed in the novel. In the novel during one of the Wall’s families nomadic moves the kids are almost thrown out the back of a van when the back doors open, but in the movie this incident did not occur, showing the tempering of the extremism of the novel. 93 Little Hobart Street is displayed as a symbol of two different things between the novel and film. The film shows 93 Little Hobart Street as a symbol of new beginnings, the family working together to change the place around while the novel demonstrates 93 Little Hobart Street with no redeeming qualities at all. The kids freeze during the winter and have to dumpster dive to survive. A creep sneaks in through the door and touches Jeannette while she’s sleeping in bed showing us just how unsafe they actually are at 93 Little Hobart Street. The movie turned small details of a place or thing during the Wall’s journey and changed them from what they were originally meant to portray.

Ultimately the Wall’s children had to learn how to survive on their own and in both the novel and film we see them act and live everyday differently. During the film, Lori is the first sibling to go to New York and sneak away to New York with other teenagers. Rex tries to run the car down and prevent her from leaving and when he failed, he steals all of the money Jeannette has saved up so she can’t leave. In the novel Rex steals the kids savings just before Lori is supposed to leave and their plans have to take a pause. In the novel all four children eventually end up together in a Bronx apartment.

During the movie, Rex is potrayed as a man with emotional attachment to his children and makes him out to be a good person though he isn’t. In the novel, drunk Rex loans Jeannette out to a man his own age and shows no sympathy or anger in doing so, but in the film we see Rex with more emotions as events like these occurs to his children. At the end of the film, Jeannette’s her mother, sister, and brother arrive to her new house for Thanksgiving without her husband David. In the novel, the family gets together for Thanksgiving at her house in rural Virginia where she lives with her second husband. In both the As in the film and movie all ends with everyone giving a toast to Rex, who is dead.

The movie cannot bear comparison to the book because the strength of the book and power of it’s characters cannot be matched. The movie missed all the power and glory of the book but told the story well during the two hour film. The movie didn’t portray Jeannette Wall’s life effectively and ultimately made her life out in a way that didn’t seem as bad. The movie left out small details that could’ve ultimately changed the end perspective of the film but the novel did an amazing job at describing Jeannette’s life and how she chose the path to success with everything she had to endure.”

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The Glass Castle Novel vs. Film. (2021, Jul 05). Retrieved from