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Maureen: What happened to Maureen? Feb 6, 2007
I was thinking about this myself. Obviously I don't know, but I speculate two reasons Maureen turned out different. One, I think she wasn't around, or old enough, when the parents actually had some good in them. She didn't get all the intellectual encouragement the parents gave the kids when they were young, like learning about the sediments of the rocks, and the planets, and novels that the older kids did. The parents were too burnt out by the time Maureen was older to instill a love of learning and exploring in her. Also, the parents made the kids feel confident and gave them self-esteem in the early days. Maureen never got any of that. Also, she spent pretty much her whole life in Welch. She never got other perspectives. She was indoctrinated with the views that you were never supposed to move up in life, or be determined to succeed economically that most of the people in Welch had. Just some of the things that may have had an impact.
At what point did you decide that the parents where horrible? What happened to Maureen? Mar 16, 2007
The parent's were self serving, mentally ill people who should have never had children. Their children "survived" in spite of them, not learning anything from them. They were ashamed of them..even Jeannette as an adult, as she lied about who her parents were and where she was from etc.. The parent's exposed the children to things that only they themselves were intrigued by. One of the saddest things is that in the mothers insane way of thinking, she actually HAD money from the land she owned, and refused to use it to care for her children. They lived in poverty and filth doing without the basics for absolutely no reason other than the mother's lunacy. Shameful excuse for parenting. They deserve no applaud for how they raised their children. They were selfish..it's simple as that. They even trashed Jeannettes nice apartment when they plopped their filthy bodies and belongings on her in New York. Ungrateful people, who should have been turned over to DCFS. The book was well written and I think Jeannette and her siblings were lucky enough and had the will to survive...although we know nothing about what happened to Maureen. the one who tried to escape the insanity by living with a friend. Poor child. ..
How did they learn to fit in? How did she learn to dress and behave in a way that made her acceptible/up to snuff? Jun 20, 2006
As I have mentioned in another thread, I was among Lori's group of friends when Jeannette came here. I can tell you that, while the people in the group came from a number of income ranges (from lower middle class to multi-millionaire), we were almost universally well educated, and Lori fit right in. I don't think it would break any confidences to state that among us included several computer professionals (this was the late 70's), a bank vice president, a private detective, a ship designer, a number of students from Columbia University and New York University, and a professional investor (not to mention several artists). Most of us only vaguely knew about Lori's background (the first time I recall hearing about it was when I met Maureen). In any case, even if Jeannette was naive about how professionals dressed, her sister definitely did know.
Did Jeanette receive psychological help along the way? I wonder if that was just a coincidence? Oct 17, 2007
From everything I've heard and I've met Jeanette in person she has not had counseling. I have to say though I think there's a great deal of covering up still. I guess some people can look at a situation and see things as completely different than they are. I know in my own life I could never look at my mother and feel she'd been a good mother. I don't know how Jeanette can provide a roof over her mother's head and not feel any sort of anger about the past. Her mother didn't do her laundry or see that she was clean and fed. How can a person exerience that and not feel anger? How can a person write a book about that kind of experience and not feel the slightest bit of satisfaction that the "truth" is going to be out there and people are going to know how rotten your parents were? Jeanette says she didn't write the book to out anyone........she says that.
I was surprised by the number of people who feel the author could actually control her parents' fates by having them declared incompetent. It is very, very difficult to force anyone to take medication. It is impossible to change someone else's life, even if the other person is cooperative. My opinion was that Rose Mary had narcissitic personality disorder combined with cyclical depression.
That's an interesting point of view and a good question. I don't know the answer, but after reading and reflecting on the book, I would say that it was a portrait of several very driven personalities...her father who searched for the big score his whole life, the mother who searched for artistic triumph, and Jeanette who wanted a life outside of Appalachia. Her parents were, in a way, both Type A personalities, as I understand it..driven, uncompromising, obsessive. But, their Type A traits were destructive. What Jeanette had which her parents did NOT have were people who believed and encouraged her..and those people were her parents. Her father's nickname for her was "Mountain Goat"..persistent, constantly climbing higher no matter what the obstacles. Her mother saw their poverty as a choice to be unique. They gave her...even though I doubt it was a conscious choice on their parts...a better, more elevated view of herself. Contrast that to Rex's parents who were brutal, negative and possibly child abusers. Contrast that, as well, to the image of the mother's mother who was constantly controlling and critical. So, perhaps Type A is the key to leading a unique life...but not necessarily a productive and positive one. Perhaps Type A needs to be coupled with a positive self-image, strong self-esteem and the ability to compromise.
Why Back on Bestsellers List? Just wanted to know why this, and her second book are back on the Amazon bestseller list? Sep 29, 2010
This book continues to have great word-of-mouth publicity. Those of us who grow tired of hearing politically-correct 'pat' answers about poverty or homelessness continue to point thinking people to this autobiography. I have found some of the negativity and questioning of Ms. Walls' account appalling--blatantly envious, needlessly critical, and possibly offended at some of the conclusions that could be drawn from a nuanced description of poverty. My wife had some childhood experiences with poor/alcoholic parents that were a bit similar to Ms. Walls' account (coincidentally my wife and I both grew up in West Virginia.) The book should be an eye-opener for many who led more sheltered lives, or who have formed simplistic beliefs about poverty or homelessness. For all these reasons, this book has legs. And I'm glad for Ms. Walls.
How Society Views the Mother vs the Father: Just wanted to know why this, and her second book are back on the Amazon bestseller list? Oct 28, 2008
I think the difference in responses to a mother's failings and a father's failings are grounded in the assumption we have that mothers, above everyone else one ever meets, will protect us and take care of us. Yes, fathers are supposed to be strong, loving and providers, but somehow, no matter what, a mother should fiercely protect her children. Think of the analogy of a mother bear: protecting a child with ferocity and, if need be, loss of her own life - the idea that a mother's first pirority will be to see that her children are clothed, fed, and loved. Mothers hold a place in our collective consciousness as important even above fathers. Think of soliders on the battleflag who cry for whom? Their mothers.
I keep thinking about the movie too. I hope one comes out. I envision it just like the book, starting out with Jeannette in the taxi watching her mom but instead of the going back to the apartment, the camara would remain on her face watching her mother and that part would be an off screen narrative, (like you said) Then the camera would go back to her mother digging in the dumpster then fade into a scene of her mother digging in the dumpster as a young woman. Then so on..... And the story would begin of her childhood. Another note....Have you thought about who would play each character? I think Kate Blanchette for the teenage Jeannette.
Professor Fuchs: Has anyone ever asked for her comment on that scene, or know if she's confirmed remembering it happening? Oct 28, 2008
I would LOVE to know if the Professor read the book and if she contacted Jeannette Walls afterwards! Oh to be a fly on the wall of that conversation . . .