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

  • 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

Support BookBrowse

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

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Brass
    Brass
    by Xhenet Aliu
    In 1996, Waterbury, Connecticut is a town of abandoned brass mills. Eighteen-year-old Elsie ...
  • Book Jacket: Timekeepers
    Timekeepers
    by Simon Garfield
    If you can spare three minutes and 57 seconds, you can hear the driving, horse-gallop beat of Sade&#...
  • Book Jacket: How to Stop Time
    How to Stop Time
    by Matt Haig
    Tom Hazard, the protagonist of How to Stop Time, is afflicted with a condition of semi-immortality ...
  • Book Jacket: Mothers of Sparta
    Mothers of Sparta
    by Dawn Davies
    What it's about:
    The tagline on the back cover of Mothers of Sparta says it all: "Some women...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

A nuanced portrait of war, and of three women haunted by the past and the secrets they hold.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Next Year in Havana
    by Chanel Cleeton

    a Cuban-American woman travels to Havana, where she finds a family secret hidden since the revolution.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Only Child
    by Rhiannon Navin

    A dazzling, tenderhearted debut about healing, family, and the exquisite wisdom of children.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win Beartown

Now in Paperback!

From the author of a A Man Called Ove, a dazzling, profound novel about a small town with a big dream.

Enter

Word Play

Sorry, we do not currently have an active wordplay!

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.