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Dead End in Norvelt

Dead End in Norvelt


by Jack Gantos

Dead End in Norvelt Theme of Family

While Jack does have a pretty traditional family (no divorce here), things aren't perfect in the Gantos household. Dad is pretty much a kid in larger-sized clothing, and Mom is a bit arbitrary and unfair. Does Jack's family lean a bit toward the slightly dysfunctional side? Yes. Do they seem to love and care for each other anyway? Of course they do. Should Jack's family be perfect? Um, no. For one, that would make them boring. Perfection would also ruin one of the major points here. In Dead End in Norvelt, the family isn't necessarily the primary source of learning and development. In fact, Jack learns most of his crucial lessons from Miss Volker, and not his mom and dad.

Questions About Family

  1. Who do you think Jack respects more: his dad or his mom? Why?
  2. Where do we see examples in the book of Jack's family working together as a team?
  3. Would the family be better off if they moved to Florida? 
  4. What qualities do Jack's parents honestly seem to like about each other? Why did they get married in the first place?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Jack's Mom asserts that the family works as a team, but we never really see the family showing much cooperation at all.

Establishing your role within your family is a significant part of growing up.

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