The Glass Castle Ending: Confronting the Past

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What is The Glass Castle ending? What happens to Jeannette and the rest of the Walls family?

The Glass Castle ending shows Jeannette Walls coming to terms with her life and childhood. After her father, Rex, dies the family comes together to talk about their life.

Read more about The Glass Castle ending.

The Glass Castle Ending: Rex’s Death

In The Glass Castle ending, 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. 

Near the ending of The Glass Castle, 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. This is one of the highlights of The Glass Castle ending.

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. 

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. 

A New Reality

In The Glass Castle ending, the family reunites. Five years after Rex’s death, the family gathered at Jeannette’s home for Thanksgiving. She was remarried and living in an old farmhouse Upstate. Her relationship with Rose Mary had dwindled over the years, and her mother had never met John, her new husband. 

Jeannette and John picked Lori and Rose Mary up from the train station. Jeannette smiled at the ease with which John related to her family. He was also a writer and published a few books and magazine articles. He was warm and compassionate and had a teenage daughter from a previous marriage. 

Back at the house, Brian waited with his eight-year-old daughter, Veronica. He and his wife had also divorced, and he now lived in a house he renovated in Brooklyn. Brian had moved up in the force to sergeant detective running a unit that investigated organized crime, showing at the ending of The Glass Castle that he was successful.

At dinner, Rose Mary made an announcement. After fifteen years squatting in the abandoned tenement, she and the other squatters were being granted ownership of their homes. She also said she’d heard from Maureen, who was still in California. None of the children had spoken to Maureen since she left New York. They were delighted that Mauren was thinking of visiting, adding a hopeful note for the ending of The Glass Castle.

In The Glass Castle ending, the family reminisced about the craziness of the past and all of Rex’s antics, including those that showcased how much he cared about his kids. John proposed a toast to Rex, and Rose Mary raised her glass. She said, “Life with your father was never boring.” Jeannette could almost hear her father laughing from wherever he was. 

The Glass Castle Ending: Confronting the Past

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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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