Dead End in Norvelt
How we cite our quotes:
It was so odd how they never really ended a conversation. They just seemed to stop talking at some awkward, cliff-hanging moment and then Mom would attend to washing the dishes and Dad would silently read the newspaper. (4.51)
The book doesn't show us much interaction between Jack's parents, and this is one of the few moments it does so. Their relationship seems strained, and they sure aren't working through things openly. No big surprise there, especially considering the number of secrets they keep from each other.
It seemed to me that he had willingly retreated to my room after the scolding Mom gave him about the corn and airplane. He took a deep breath and slowly ran his hand back and forth across his mouth as if he were trying to erase it and the lecture he was supposed to deliver. (6.3)
Jack's mom really does seem to be The Decider in this family. Of course, with his Dad acting so immature most of the time, what choice does she have?
He smiled, and it made me happy to say things I knew he liked to hear. (6.17)
This is bad news. There's nothing wrong with being polite—in fact, we here at Shmoop are big fans of politeness—but you definitely shouldn't confine yourself to saying what you think adults want to hear. Why does Jack fake his enthusiasm for gun safety to please his Dad? How does this change by the end of the book?