MLA Gold Award Site

Reading guide for Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Dead End in Norvelt

by Jack Gantos

Dead End in Norvelt
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Sep 2011, 352 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2013, 368 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Jo Perry

Buy This Book

About this Book

Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

Family Relationships

  • Describe Jack's family

  • Jack is punished by his mom for shooting his dad's rifle and for mowing down her cornfield. Discuss how he is the victim in both incidents.

  • Jack's parents try to convince him that they work as a team. Debate whether there is any teamwork in the Gantos family.

  • Cite evidence that Jack's mom "wears the pants in the family."

  • Which of Jack's parents does he most respect?

Friendship

  • Discuss Jack's reputation among his peers.

  • Bunny Huffer is Jack's best friend. Trace their relationship from the beginning of the novel to the end.

  • At first, Jack is simply Miss Volker's scribe. At what point does he become her friend?

  • How does Bunny regard Jack's relationship with Miss Volker?

  • Discuss the relationship between Mr. Spizz and Miss Volker.

  • Mr. Spizz enjoys pestering Jack. Debate whether he is jealous of Jack's relationship with Miss Volker.

Community

  • Norvelt is a New Deal community that was built to give "hardworking poor people a helping hand" (p. 54). Why does Jack's dad call it a "Commie" town?

  • Discuss Miss Volker's commitment to the town.

  • Debate whether Norvelt has lost its true sense of community.

  • What does Mrs. Gantos miss most about the "old" Norvelt? How is she trying to instill a sense of community in Jack?

  • Discuss how a town can change without changing its sense of community.

Courage

  • Jack tells his mother that his dad made him mow down the corn. Why does he feel that squealing on his dad was a cowardly thing to do?

  • Anytime that Jack is anxious or fearful, his nose bleeds. How does it take courage to let Miss Volker operate on his nose?

  • Explain how Bunny contributes to Jack's fears. How does she also help him gain courage?

  • What is Jack's most courageous act in the novel?

Lying/Honesty

  • Explain what Mrs. Gantos means when she tells Jack, "Remember, a person first lies to himself before he lies to others" (pp. 207-8).

  • Jack tells his parents that he didn't put the bullet in teh rifle. Why does it take Mr. Gantos a while to admit that Jack is telling the truth?

  • Who are the most honest and trustworthy characters in the novel?

  • Discuss the most dishonest characters. How do they lie to themselves and to the entire community?

Growing Up

  • At different times in the novel, Bunny and Miss Volker tell Jack that he needs to be a man. How might their definition of a man differ?

  • In what ways is Jack's father still a boy? Debate whether this interferes with Jack's journey toward manhood.

  • At what point in the novel does Jack begin to understand his role as a man? Which character is most responsible for his coming of age?

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Square Fish. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Welcome to Norvelt, PA

Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Redemption Road
    Redemption Road
    by John Hart
    Themes of loyalty, family, honesty and trust play out strongly in Redemption Road, which tells the ...
  • Book Jacket: The North Water
    The North Water
    by Ian McGuire
    In early 1859 the crew of the Volunteer, a Greenland-bound whaler, is making the most of the last ...
  • Book Jacket: City of Secrets
    City of Secrets
    by Stewart O'Nan
    In his new novel, City of Secrets, Stewart O'Nan spins a tale of espionage and intrigue as ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Children
    by Ann Leary

    With remarkable wit and insight, Ann Leary pulls back the curtain on one blended family.

    Read Member Reviews

Members review books pre-publication. Read their opinions in First Impressions

Win this book!
Win The Weekenders

The Perfect Summer Escape!

Told with Mary Kay Andrews' trademark blend of humor and warmth.

Enter

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
Girl Waits with Gun
by Amy Stewart

An enthralling novel based on the forgotten true adventures of one of the nation's first female deputy sheriffs.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Word Play

Solve this clue:

B A Usual

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.