Since we find out early on in Dead End in Norvelt that Norvelt was founded as part of the New Deal to give poor people opportunities to help themselves and each other, it's clear that community is one of Gantos's Big Ideas. Tensions abound between characters who buy into the principles of Norvelt, and those who instead consider it a moldy old relic from the past. The main question the book asks us is: what responsibility do we bear toward members of our community—especially those who are less fortunate or less capable than ourselves?
For the most part, outsiders are seen as a destructive force that Norvelters should fear.
Society has a clear responsibility to help those who are less fortunate or less capable.