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Dead End in Norvelt
by Jack Gantos
Dead End in Norvelt Chapter 12 Summary
Jack's mother applies for a job at the Norvelt Pants Factory to make some extra money. Miss Volker calls Jack to come help her, because there are "dead ones everywhere" (12.7). Wait, what? Oh, okay: dead vermin (mice and rats). When he gets there, another gift is waiting on Miss Volker's doorstep from Mr. Spizz. This time it's a vase of flowers. Aw, that's sweet. Armed with a fireplace poker, Jack goes down into Miss Volker's basement to take care of the dead mice, rats, and an opossum. The dead animals are arranged hectically around the basement, "as if they had suddenly dropped dead in the middle of a wild dance party" (12.26). Hm, dancing is starting to seem important. Why are they all dead? Miss Volker has been sprinkling the chocolates Mr. Spizz leaves for her with poison and putting them in the basement to kill off the rats and mice. After he cleans up the dead bodies from the basement, Jack bags up Girl Scout cookies (Thin Mints! Delicious!) so Miss Volker can include them with the old ladies' charity meals. We learn that Miss Volker recently sold her sister's house to a "nice young man" who said he had lots of friends (12.56). Wait a minute: that sounds suspiciously like the Hells Angel. Jack goes off to bury the rodents by the dump, since Miss Volker warns him that the poison is very toxic.
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