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Dead End in Norvelt

Dead End in Norvelt

by Jack Gantos

Dead End in Norvelt Chapter 23 Summary

  • Apparently, Mrs. Vinyl was not scared to death from the airplane antics, because we learn that she had eaten one of Jack's mother's casseroles the following day (um, wait....are you getting a bad feeling about this one?).
  • Mr. Huffer is already on the scene at Mrs. Vinyl's house when Jack and Miss Volker show up.
  • Miss Volker jokes that Mr. Spizz probably "helped her kick the bucket" (23.20), and then they note that it looks like Mrs. Vinyl died while "having a midnight snack" (23.21).
  • In the refrigerator is—you guessed it!—another one of Jack's mother's mushroom-and-cheese casseroles.
  • Jack almost (no, Jack, don't!) eats a slice of the casserole, but is interrupted by Miss Volker.
  • Mr. Huffer and Miss Volker have some heated philosophical words regarding the impending demise of Norvelt, death, and history.
  • Norvelt should be used as something more than a "museum piece," Mr. Huffer argues—like taken apart to build a new town. Miss Volker, though, wants it to be "a shining city on a hill" (23.25).
  • "Nothing lasts forever," Mr. Huffer tells her, and she counters this with: "History lasts forever [...] And we'll be judged by our history" (23.79).
  • We discover that Mrs. Vinyl has died on August 6, the same day as the bombing of Hiroshima (the first-ever use of a nuclear weapon). Miss Volker launches into an impassioned diatribe on the inhumanity of war (23.37), and Jack has a moment of major insight about learning from one's mistakes (23.46).
  • After the reminder about Hiroshima, Jack's Dad decides to build a bomb shelter for reals.

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