Dead End in Norvelt
How we cite our quotes:
[I]t's good that people around this town know how to help out in different ways. (1.52)
From the very beginning we get a sense of how the town of Norvelt operates. Jack gets scared when the ambulance shows up at Miss Volker's after he has fired the Japanese sniper rifle, but when his Mom explains that the ambulance driver is also the plumber, we get our first clue about the town's community spirit.
We are grateful for her community service, especially her years as a school crossing guard where she was much loved by the children. (2.80)
In the book, service to others builds and maintains community bonds. Honestly? This sounds nice. If community means taking care of old people and helping kids cross roads safely, we're all for it.
"Well, if that rich Commie woman wanted to help poor people, she should have just given them a big fat check," Dad suggested. (4.45)
Sure, everyone likes a big fat check, but Eleanor Roosevelt wanted to do something that would last a little longer than money. What's the distinction the book is here trying to draw between a "handout" and a "hand up?" How do we still see debates about this in contemporary society?