The Glass Castle

Brian Walls Character Analysis

Brother of Jeannette, Lori, and Maureen, and the third-oldest sibling after Jeannette. Brian is the closest to Jeannette for much of their childhood: they play together, forage for food together, and defend themselves from other kids with each other’s help. Brian is intensely loyal: as a young child, he hides in the bushes at one point to help Jeannette fight back against three older girls, and from seventh grade, he mows lawns to contribute to Jeannette and Lori’s escape fund even though he’s too young to leave.

Brian Walls Quotes in The Glass Castle

The The Glass Castle quotes below are all either spoken by Brian Walls or refer to Brian Walls. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Growing Up, Illusion, and Disillusion Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Scribner edition of The Glass Castle published in 2006.
Part 2 Quotes

[Dad] pointed to the top of the fire, where the snapping yellow flames dissolved into an invisible shimmery heat that made the desert beyond seem to waver, like a mirage. Dad told us that zone was known in physics as the boundary between turbulence and order. “It’s a place where no rules apply, or at least they haven’t figured ’em out yet,” he said.

Related Characters: Rex Walls (speaker), Jeannette Walls, Brian Walls
Related Symbols: Fire
Page Number: 61
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Brian Walls Character Timeline in The Glass Castle

The timeline below shows where the character Brian Walls appears in The Glass Castle. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 2: The Desert
Order and Turbulence Theme Icon
Responsibility, Self-Sufficiency, and Non-Conformity Theme Icon
...room, throwing an army-surplus blanket around her. She then grabs Jeannette and her younger brother, Brian, rushes to the trailer next door, and asks to borrow her neighbor’s car to get... (full context)
Growing Up, Illusion, and Disillusion Theme Icon
Home Theme Icon
Possessions and Ownership Theme Icon
Order and Turbulence Theme Icon
Responsibility, Self-Sufficiency, and Non-Conformity Theme Icon
Jeannette’s family—Mom, Dad, Brian, and Jeannette’s older sister Lori— comes to visit, loudly interrupting the hospital’s calm. Mom is... (full context)
Order and Turbulence Theme Icon
Responsibility, Self-Sufficiency, and Non-Conformity Theme Icon
The next time they visit, Brian’s head is wrapped in a bandage from falling off the couch and hitting his head.... (full context)
Growing Up, Illusion, and Disillusion Theme Icon
Order and Turbulence Theme Icon
Responsibility, Self-Sufficiency, and Non-Conformity Theme Icon
...a second daughter, Mary Charlene, who died at nine months old, followed by Jeannette and Brian. While Mary Charlene’s death doesn’t seem to trouble Mom much—God saw fit to take her... (full context)
Growing Up, Illusion, and Disillusion Theme Icon
Order and Turbulence Theme Icon
The next day Brian waits in hiding for the girls to attack again, and the two siblings fight them... (full context)
Growing Up, Illusion, and Disillusion Theme Icon
Order and Turbulence Theme Icon
Responsibility, Self-Sufficiency, and Non-Conformity Theme Icon
Jeannette also likes going to the dump with Brian, where they collect batteries, oil drums, and paint cans for science experiments in the “lab,”... (full context)
Growing Up, Illusion, and Disillusion Theme Icon
Order and Turbulence Theme Icon
Afterward, Dad seems not mad but contemplative. He points to the fire and shows Brian and Jeannette the point at which the flames melt into a shimmery heat. In physics,... (full context)
Possessions and Ownership Theme Icon
...to the Owl Club, where they linger until the owner yells at them to leave. Brian usually settles on SweeTarts and Jeannette on Sugar Daddies, since, though she loves chocolate, it... (full context)
Growing Up, Illusion, and Disillusion Theme Icon
One day Jeannette dares Brian to talk to one of the women on the porch. He tells Jeannette that the... (full context)
Growing Up, Illusion, and Disillusion Theme Icon
Responsibility, Self-Sufficiency, and Non-Conformity Theme Icon
...principal, Miss Beatty, especially disapproves of Mom’s teaching tactics. Afraid Mom will be fired, Lori, Brian, and Jeannette start helping out with classroom tasks and homework grading. (full context)
Growing Up, Illusion, and Disillusion Theme Icon
Responsibility, Self-Sufficiency, and Non-Conformity Theme Icon
Another day, Dad asks Brian and Jeannette why they’re not carrying lunch bags to school. When they say there’s no... (full context)
Growing Up, Illusion, and Disillusion Theme Icon
Responsibility, Self-Sufficiency, and Non-Conformity Theme Icon
Lori and Brian agree that Dad spends more money on alcohol than on family necessities, but Jeannette defends... (full context)
Growing Up, Illusion, and Disillusion Theme Icon
Order and Turbulence Theme Icon
A few months after Mom takes the teaching job, Brian and Jeannette pass the Green Lantern and a woman smoking a cigarette—Ginger—calls out to Brian.... (full context)
Growing Up, Illusion, and Disillusion Theme Icon
Order and Turbulence Theme Icon
Brian clearly dislikes Ginger so much that Jeannette suspects there is more to the story. She... (full context)
Growing Up, Illusion, and Disillusion Theme Icon
Order and Turbulence Theme Icon
Responsibility, Self-Sufficiency, and Non-Conformity Theme Icon
The day after that, Billy comes to meet Lori, Brian, and Jeannette at her house and calls out Jeannette’s name. Lori tries to tell him... (full context)
Possessions and Ownership Theme Icon
Order and Turbulence Theme Icon
...makes good, steady money. After his first payday, he buys three new bicycles for Lori, Brian, and Jeannette—their first. Jeannette marvels at the seat, purple color, and chrome handlebars with tassels... (full context)
Growing Up, Illusion, and Disillusion Theme Icon
Home Theme Icon
Order and Turbulence Theme Icon
Responsibility, Self-Sufficiency, and Non-Conformity Theme Icon
...feel someone rubbing his hand over her private parts. She screams and kicks at him. Brian runs into the room with a hatchet, and the man escapes. Mom is asleep and... (full context)
Home Theme Icon
Order and Turbulence Theme Icon
Responsibility, Self-Sufficiency, and Non-Conformity Theme Icon
...when she can’t her teacher takes care of it for her. One day she and Brian hunt behind their house for bottles to cash in. They dive into a dumpster and... (full context)
Order and Turbulence Theme Icon
Responsibility, Self-Sufficiency, and Non-Conformity Theme Icon
...room with several new dresses, and Mom reemerges with one tucked under a raincoat, while Brian, Lori, and Jeannette make noise to distract the shop employee. (full context)
Growing Up, Illusion, and Disillusion Theme Icon
Order and Turbulence Theme Icon
Responsibility, Self-Sufficiency, and Non-Conformity Theme Icon
...to do. Once she tries the liquid in a small bottle, which she finds awful. Brian takes the bottle, empties it, and puts it into a box marked “Toy Box.” Every... (full context)
Part 3: Welch
Growing Up, Illusion, and Disillusion Theme Icon
Home Theme Icon
Order and Turbulence Theme Icon
Brian and Jeannette wonder aloud if Mom and Dad will return. The kids know that they... (full context)
Growing Up, Illusion, and Disillusion Theme Icon
Order and Turbulence Theme Icon
...week later, the kids are all watching TV in the living room when Erma tells Brian to follow her into Grandpa’s bedroom, where she can sew up his shorts while he’s... (full context)
Growing Up, Illusion, and Disillusion Theme Icon
Responsibility, Self-Sufficiency, and Non-Conformity Theme Icon
...being proper guests. Jeannette thinks he’ll understand when she explains, but Dad only says that Brian can take anything, as a man. (full context)
Growing Up, Illusion, and Disillusion Theme Icon
Order and Turbulence Theme Icon
Responsibility, Self-Sufficiency, and Non-Conformity Theme Icon
...Jeannette asks aloud if Erma might ever have acted towards Dad as she did with Brian—it would explain a lot, she thinks. But Lori tells her not to think about it,... (full context)
Growing Up, Illusion, and Disillusion Theme Icon
Home Theme Icon
Possessions and Ownership Theme Icon
Jeannette and Brian decide to embrace this new home by beginning to dig the foundation for the Glass... (full context)
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Home Theme Icon
Possessions and Ownership Theme Icon
Order and Turbulence Theme Icon
Responsibility, Self-Sufficiency, and Non-Conformity Theme Icon
One day, Dad tells Jeannette and Brian to dump the house’s garbage in the pit, since they haven’t been able to pay... (full context)
Order and Turbulence Theme Icon
Responsibility, Self-Sufficiency, and Non-Conformity Theme Icon
...garbage also attracts rats, one of whom Jeannette discovers “bathing” in the sugar bowl. When Brian throws a skillet at the rat, it hisses at them and they run away. That... (full context)
Order and Turbulence Theme Icon
Responsibility, Self-Sufficiency, and Non-Conformity Theme Icon
Their dog, Tinkle (a stray that had followed Brian home) catches the rat and kills it. Mom says she’s sorry for the dead rat... (full context)
Growing Up, Illusion, and Disillusion Theme Icon
Order and Turbulence Theme Icon
Jeannette, Brian, and Lori begin to sleep with makeshift weapons by their heads, while Maureen spends nights... (full context)
Growing Up, Illusion, and Disillusion Theme Icon
Home Theme Icon
Order and Turbulence Theme Icon
...Hobart Street,” against Ernie Goad. It starts when Ernie begins throwing rocks at Jeannette and Brian for “stinking up” the town. He yells that they’re garbage—they even live in it. Jeannette... (full context)
Growing Up, Illusion, and Disillusion Theme Icon
Order and Turbulence Theme Icon
...Ernie throws a rock through the window and yells that they’re garbage before running away. Brian cooks up a plan to make a catapult with a mattress and ropes like the... (full context)
Responsibility, Self-Sufficiency, and Non-Conformity Theme Icon
...her friends’ houses for dinner. But Jeannette notices Mom is getting heavier, and one day Brian finds her eating a giant Hershey bar under the covers. Mom starts crying and calling... (full context)
Order and Turbulence Theme Icon
Responsibility, Self-Sufficiency, and Non-Conformity Theme Icon
...only a thin wool coat, and the family can’t afford coal for heating. She and Brian occasionally collect coal pieces that have fallen off trucks, but usually concentrate on finding dry... (full context)
Possessions and Ownership Theme Icon
One day, as Jeannette and Brian are exploring, they find a diamond ring, which Mom takes to be appraised. Though it... (full context)
Order and Turbulence Theme Icon
To get away from the heat, Brian and Jeannette go to the public swimming pool, until the day Ernie Goad tells everyone... (full context)
Possessions and Ownership Theme Icon
Order and Turbulence Theme Icon
Jeannette sometimes feels badly about not taking care of Maureen, so that year, she, Brian, and Lori save for months to buy Maureen a toy kitchen set at the dollar... (full context)
Growing Up, Illusion, and Disillusion Theme Icon
Responsibility, Self-Sufficiency, and Non-Conformity Theme Icon
...does, however, start to talk about the devil visiting her and following her around. While Brian wonders if they should keep Maureen away from the Pentecostals, Mom says that religion is... (full context)
Growing Up, Illusion, and Disillusion Theme Icon
...their walls. Jeannette babysits and does other kids’ homework, guaranteeing them at least an A-. Brian, though too young to imagine leaving with his sisters, pitches in by mowing lawns and... (full context)
Growing Up, Illusion, and Disillusion Theme Icon
Order and Turbulence Theme Icon
...aloud who will serve as editor of the newspaper—she thinks she might try to convince Brian. (full context)
Part 4: New York City
Home Theme Icon
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Brian writes to Jeannette telling her about the family: Dad’s drunk or in jail, Mom’s in... (full context)
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After his junior year, Brian joins the sisters in the city and gets a job at an ice-cream parlor in... (full context)
Growing Up, Illusion, and Disillusion Theme Icon
Responsibility, Self-Sufficiency, and Non-Conformity Theme Icon
Brian invites Dad into his apartment and locks the alcohol cabinet, but comes home one day... (full context)
Growing Up, Illusion, and Disillusion Theme Icon
Possessions and Ownership Theme Icon
Responsibility, Self-Sufficiency, and Non-Conformity Theme Icon
...time, Lori is an illustrator at a comic-book company, Maureen is in high school, and Brian is working to become a policeman. The entire family celebrates Christmas that year at Lori’s... (full context)
Order and Turbulence Theme Icon
Though Lori and Brian have stable jobs, Maureen never manages to finish college and wanders from job to job... (full context)
Part 5: Thanksgiving
Possessions and Ownership Theme Icon
When they arrive, Brian and Jessica, John’s daughter from his first marriage, come out of the house, and Brian... (full context)
Growing Up, Illusion, and Disillusion Theme Icon
Order and Turbulence Theme Icon
Brian, now a sergeant detective, is now divorced from his wife. But he’s enjoyed his time... (full context)
Growing Up, Illusion, and Disillusion Theme Icon
Home Theme Icon
Responsibility, Self-Sufficiency, and Non-Conformity Theme Icon
...she shrieks in delight as she runs onto the green cover and falls into it. Brian’s own daughter Veronica seems fascinated but confused. Jeannette tells her that Grandma Walls is different... (full context)
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Possessions and Ownership Theme Icon
...with fireplaces and high ceilings. The kitchen is packed with multiple Thanksgiving dishes, and as Brian and Jeannette look at the spread she knows he’s thinking the same thing she is—as... (full context)