Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Thomas Koenigs

Reader 2

Tesse Prakas

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2022 Anna C Salvati


In this paper, I will begin by exploring the history of memoir, the rise of the “misery memoir,” and I intend to challenge the generalized use of the term. Though the cultural rise of trauma memoirs is real, the genre cannot be a blanket term for memoirs that discuss trauma. I have selected The Glass Castle as my evidence because although it includes disturbing details, Walls effortfully tries to reorient the reader’s focus. The term misery memoir is inadequate to describe The Glass Castle because it is not about misery. It obscures Walls’s message that in order to achieve self-acceptance in the present, one must revisit and forgive the past. The text is a declaration that she cannot simply be defined by the abuse. By paying attention to the book’s organization, Walls’s use of language, and how she internalizes the perception of others, it becomes clear that the book is about Walls overcoming the shame that has accumulated over the course of her life.