Dead End in Norvelt
by Jack Gantos
Jack Gantos Timeline and Summary
- Jack gets grounded for accidentally shooting his Dad's rifle. Oops. It was loaded, after all.
- He gets one reprieve: working as Miss Volker's scribe, helping her to write obituaries.
- Mr. Spizz gives Jack a ticket for weeds blocking the gutters.
- Caught in the middle of a battle between his mom and dad, Jack mows down his mom's corn and gets grounded for the entire summer.
- Here's another bright spot: Jack gets to drive a car for the first time.
- Miss Volker operates on Jack's nose to fix his spontaneous bleeding problem with limited success.
- Several original Norvelt residents die (old women), and Jack helps Miss Volker write their obituaries. In the process, he gets some tasty history snacks that Miss Volker includes with these columns.
- Jack turns twelve.
- Jack watches Miss Volker's sister's house burn down. (The fire department is on it, but they can't save the building.)
- Mr. Spizz coerces Jack into sneaking out to buy some rat poison for him in exchange for covering up the weed-gutter-ticket.
- Predictably, Jack's mom catches him.
- Jack watches his dad fly in the airplane, dive-bombing houses and throwing shoes.
- Major turning point alert: Jack has a significant insight about how he has to learn from his mistakes.
- Doing a little amateur sleuthing, Jack narrows down the murder suspects to Miss Volker, Mr. Spizz, and Mr. Huffer.
- During a follow-up nose operation, Jack goofs with the surgical instrument but actually seems to fix his nose.
- Turns out, Mr. Spizz is the serial poisoner—only, big mistake, Jack bought the poison for him, so Mr. Spizz threatens to frame him.
- Luckily, this doesn't happen. Instead, Mr. Spizz flees town, and Jack finds out that his Uncle Will is the one who had loaded the Japanese sniper rifle when Will comes rampaging in after a dying deer.
- As the deer dies, Jack touches it—he seems to have lost some of his fear about death, and his nose-bleeding problem is cured, too.
- Jack writes his first solo obituary (for the deer), and then goes on an airplane ride with his dad. But not just any airplane ride. While they're up in the air, they throw paint-filled water balloons at the movie theater screen.
- Jack realizes this is stupid, and demands that his dad take him back down.
- In the end, Jack realizes he will make mistakes, but that if he remembers his history, he will grow up.