Rex Walls: Death and Impact on the Walls Family

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform summary of "The Glass Castle" by Jeannette Walls. Shortform has the world's best summaries of books you should be reading.

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When was Rex Walls’ death? How did he die, and how did his death affect his family?

Rex Walls’ death was difficult for all of his children, even if they were estranged from him. Jeannette Walls writes about how the family was able to remember Rex fondly, even though his actions caused them suffering.

Read more about Rex Walls’ death, and his relationship with his daughter Jeannette.

Rex Walls’ Death: The End of the Road

Both Jeannette and Brian grew distant from their parents after Maureen left. Brian married and moved to a house on Long Island, and he now had a baby daughter. Lori was more in touch with Rex and Rose Mary, but they stopped having family get-togethers. 

A year after Maureen left, Rex called Jeannette and asked to see her. He also asked if she’d bring him a bottle of vodka. When Jeannette arrived to their tenement, a half-gallon of vodka in tow, she found her parents snuggled under a blanket in bed. They were older, more worn and weathered, and overly thin. 

Rex announced that he was dying. He said he’d contracted a rare tropical blood disease from a Nigerian drug dealer. In actuality, all the years of smoking and drinking had caught up to him. He had a few weeks to months left, which meant he might not live to see sixty. 

Despite all of the ways Rex had made their lives chaos, Jeannette couldn’t imagine life without him. They stayed up talking about old times, and Rex reassured her that he was okay with his life ending. Even though he’d never built the Glass Castle, he’d had a hell of a time planning it with her. Jeannette was the one good thing he’d done with his life. She’d made him proud. 

Two weeks later, Rex had a heart attack. Jeannette, Lori, and Rose Mary were at the hospital where he was hooked up to life support. Jeannette had the sudden urge to check him out Rex Walls style. An hour later, Rex died. 

After Rex Walls’ death, Jeannette grew discontent with her life. She couldn’t stay still anymore and always wanted to be someplace other than where she was. She took up ice skating just to feel like she was moving forward. But even that didn’t help. Within a year, she divorced Eric and moved out of the apartment. She found a small apartment and finally felt like she was where she belonged.

Rex Walls: Death and Impact on the Walls Family

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best summary of Jeannette Walls's "The Glass Castle" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full The Glass Castle summary:

  • The author's unbelievable childhood as her absent parents went on alcoholic binges
  • How Jeannette and her siblings escaped their parents to strike out on their own
  • The complicated relationship Jeannette had with her parents before they died

Carrie Cabral

Carrie has been reading and writing for as long as she can remember, and has always been open to reading anything put in front of her. She wrote her first short story at the age of six, about a lost dog who meets animal friends on his journey home. Surprisingly, it was never picked up by any major publishers, but did spark her passion for books. Carrie worked in book publishing for several years before getting an MFA in Creative Writing. She especially loves literary fiction, historical fiction, and social, cultural, and historical nonfiction that gets into the weeds of daily life.

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