MLA Platinum Award Press Release

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 by Jack Gantos X
Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

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

    Genres

  • 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 will 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" articles
  • 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 $39 for a year or $12 for 3 months
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Welcome to Norvelt, PA

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Join Now!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Race Against Time
    Race Against Time
    by Jerry Mitchell
    Jerry Mitchell spent nearly three decades trailing cold cases from the Civil Rights Movement. As a ...
  • Book Jacket: The Resisters
    The Resisters
    by Gish Jen
    Gish Jen's The Resisters depicts a future United States, dubbed AutoAmerica, where climate change ...
  • Book Jacket: The Mercies
    The Mercies
    by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
    It's 1617 and a violent storm has claimed the lives of 40 fishermen off the coast of Vardø, a ...
  • Book Jacket
    Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree
    by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani
    Ya Ta, the main character in Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani's novel, Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree, ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    And They Called It Camelot
    by Stephanie Marie Thornton

    An unforgettable portrait of American legend Jackie O.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Mountains Sing
    by Nguyen Phan Que Mai

    An enveloping, multigenerational tale set against the backdrop of the Viet Nam War.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Things They Carried
by Tim O'Brien

The classic, ground-breaking meditation on war and the redemptive power of storytelling.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Mostly Dead Things

Mostly Dead Things
by Kristen Arnett

"Hilarious, deeply morbid, and full of heart."
- BuzzFeed

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

T Die I C

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 the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.