Due to his negligence and occasional endangerment of his children, many people dislike Rex Walls. They think he’s an awful, unfit parent. However, Rex was a loving, caring father who teaches his kids important values, with many positive parenting traits who just messes up from time to time. The reader can see how much Rex cares when he gives his kids stars for Christmas because he doesn’t have money for toys. Rex says, “Years from now, when all the junk [the other kids] got is broken and long forgotten, you’ll still have your stars” (Walls 41). Looking back at her childhood, Jeannette often says that Rex giving her Venus is one of her fondest memories.
Rex was almost always positive about negative things. He always liked to look at situations as adventures vs. hardships. Giving his children stars when money’s tight is a good example of trying to be positive about something negative. When Rex woke them all up in the middle of the night and told them they had to leave, he would make it sound adventurous. He would say that the FBI or the Mafia was after them. When they spent the night in the desert and didn’t have pillows, Rex told them it was part of his plan to get them to have good posture. He said, “The Indians didn’t use pillows . . . and look how straight they stood.” (18). Another example of both a positive parenting trait and turning things into an adventure is shown on pages 36-37 when Jeannette says there’s a monster under the bed. When told about a monster under the bed, most parents would just tell their kid to go back to bed, Rex turned it into an adventure. He made up a story about the Demon and they even “chased it off”. In the process of chasing it off, Rex basically showed Jeannette that she wasn’t afraid and that she should face her fears.
With the exception of the bar scene (210), Rex Walls is a very protective father. When there was a fire, “I wanted to reach over and shake them awake, but I couldn’t move . . . Just then the doors burst open. Someone was calling our names. It was Dad . . . [He] wrapped the blanket around me and picked me up then ran down the stairs leading Lori and Brian with one arm and holding me in the other.” this shows both courage, and a strong urge to protect his kids. Another example of protectiveness is shown on page 125 when the family is leaving for Welch, he acts like he doesn’t want to come with, but he ends up going with anyway. I think him not wanting to go with was him just trying to stay in control of his family, but he ended up going with when he realized they were going to leave. This is because he wants to stay with them, (attempt to) provide for them, and protect them.
Rex is an exceptional parent is because of values he teaches his kids; he also gives them hope. Jeanette started collecting rocks, “[Dad] told me that he had his heart set on buying a particular piece of rose quartz but didn’t have the six hundred dollars I was charging, so I cut the price to five hundred and let him have it on credit.” By doing this, Rex is giving her hope that she can possibly sell her rocks and help support the family. When Jeanette and Brian burn down the shed, instead of being angry Rex takes the opportunity to teach them about the balance of turbulence and order (61).
Rex Walls has many positive, also many negative, parenting traits. His best traits are that he teaches the children how to survive on next to nothing, he is very protective, and encourages them to work hard in school. One of the best quotes from Rex is when he tells Jeanette, “”If you don’t want to sink, you better figure out how to swim” (66). This shows that Rex is trying to teach her that she needs to both think and work hard to get somewhere in life. Rex is a good father.