The Glass Castle Part 4 - New York City Summary

When she arrives in New York, Jeannette is greeted by Lori's friend Evan. He takes her to see Lori at Zum Zum, a German restaurant where she is bartending. The sisters briefly live in Evangeline, a woman's hostel in Greenwich Village. After Jeannette gets a job at a hamburger stand, the girls are able to get their own place in South Bronx. Jeannette enrolls in a public school for her senior year where she begins an internship at The Phoenix; a newspaper owned, edited, and published by a man named Mike Armstrong. She quits her job when Mr. Armstrong offers her a full-time job working at The Phoenix. The sisters decide to move Brian up to New York as well when they hear about the conditions in Welsh-when Rex is not drunk he is in jail and Rose Mary takes a nasty fall. Jeannette is accepted to Barnard College and becomes a live-in nanny to save money. Brian eventually gets his own place and Lori decides to petition to bring Maureen to live with her. On weekends the kids get together for dinner; looking back on the past in Welch brings them to fits of laughter.

Three years after Jeannette left Welch, Rex and Rose Mary Walls arrive in New York in a beat up, broke down white van, saying they have moved to New York to be a family again. Rex and Rose Mary are thrown out of two apartments before they begin living with Lori. Lori is stressed about her father's drunken fits and her mother's aloofness. Brian tries to take Rex in, but he cannot live with Brian's rule: no drinking. Rex and Rose Mary live in the van for a time until it is towed, and then become homeless. Jeannette voices her concern over her parents' new lifestyle but Rose Mary says, "Being homeless is an adventure." They seem to like spending their days going to free events and looking for shelters and soup kitchens. When Jeannette feels guilty, Brian reminds her that Mom has options. She has a house in Phoenix, expensive jewelry she could pawn, and her Texas land, but she won't even discuss these ideas when Jeannette brings them up.

Rex is hospitalized with tuberculosis and is sober for six months. His sobriety ends when he goes to work as a maintenance man in a resort upstate. Rex returns to New York City for the holidays at Rose Mary's request. This section shows how Jeannette has to come to terms with her parents. They fail her and they disappoint her only to turn around and do something redeeming. Rex insists on reading everything Jeannette is studying and brags about his Ivy League daughter to anyone who will listen. When Jeannette tells her father that she may have to drop out of Barnard because she is $1,000 dollars short on her tuition, Rex hands her $950 he made from poker games and tells her to use it towards school.

After graduation, Jeannette moves to Park Avenue with Eric, a man she had been dating for a long time. Jeannette still hides the details of her past, afraid that it will get her fired from the magazine. She tries to avoid talking about her parents and when that fails she lies. Jeannette and Eric are married four years later.

When Uncle Jim dies, Rose Mary goes to Jeannette to see about purchasing his plot of land. When Rose Mary reveals that the land is worth $1 million she immediately questions whether Rose Mary could have prevented their years of hunger and suffering. She had been holding onto land in Texas instead of selling it and using the money to provide for her family.

Lori becomes a freelance artist and Brian joins the police force. After graduation, Maureen goes to City College only to drop out and live with Rose Mary and Rex in a squat while working temporarily as a bartender or a waitress. As always, Maureen depends on others to take care of her, which is the complete opposite of the rest of her family. Jeannette becomes concerned about Maureen's health when she begins exhibiting eccentric behavior. Her fears are confirmed when Maureen stabs her mother after Rose Mary kicks her out of the house. She is sentenced to a year in a state mental institution. The entire family comes to her hearing and argues about where to place blame. When she gets out Maureen catches a bus to California without saying goodbye to her family. Jeannette feels guilty for not doing a better job of protecting Maureen.

One day Rex calls Jeannette and asks her to come visit. She arrives at her parents' apartment on the Lower East Side where Rex announces that he is dying. Jeannette is unable to imagine life without her father. Two weeks later he has a heart attack and dies. This sad event causes Jeannette to reexamine her life; she feels restless. She develops a need to be in motion- to head towards someplace instead of being there. She divorces Eric and moves into an apartment on the West Side. By divorcing the man that was so very opposite of her father, and moving to a different part of the city, Jeannette is finally able to reconcile who she was with who she has become.

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