Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide
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Analysis

Literary Devices in Dead End in Norvelt

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

Setting

Just a Little Commie TownJack Gantos sets his novel in the real-life town of Norvelt, Pennsylvania (plus, he also grew up there). Norvelt was started in 1934 as a New Deal housing project. Understa...

Narrator Point of View

Our narrator is twelve-year-old Jack. Since we see everything from his perspective, and he's right there in the thick of all the action, the story unfolds as Jack is seeing it. We only know what he...

Genre

Young AdultGantos is well-known for his middle-grade fiction (e.g. his Joey Pigza and Jack books).In Dead End in Norvelt, he aims for a slightly older audience. We're clearly in young adult fiction...

Tone

While the subject matter of Gantos's book is serious—daddy issues, a serial killer, extreme poverty—Jack-the-narrator maintains a pretty light and humorous tone throughout. He cracks lots of jo...

Writing Style

Fitting for a book about a twelve-year-old boy aimed at boys, Dead End in Norvelt is pretty breezy: the sentences aren't overly complicated, the vocabulary is pretty straightforward, and the book i...

What's Up With the Title?

Gantos plays with a couple of meanings of "dead end" in the book's title.Remember how the story takes place in a small, sleepy town? Well, the first meaning of Dead End refers to the fact that Norv...

What's Up With the Ending?

Dead End in Norvelt closes when Jack finally gets the promised ride in the J-3 airplane with his father. So, while Jack has learned some valuable lessons over the summer, he seems to hit a dead end...

Tough-o-Meter

Dead End in Norvelt might be hilarious, but it brings up some pretty weighty questions about growing up, war, secrets and dishonesty, our responsibilities toward other members of our community, and...

Plot Analysis

You'll Shoot Your Eye Out!Jack lands himself in big trouble at the very beginning of the story. First, he shoots his dad's sniper rifle at the drive-in movie theatre screen (an accident), but then...

Trivia

Jack Gantos got the idea for Dead End in Norvelt after he gave a eulogy for his dead aunt. (Hey, that reminds us a lot of narrator-Jack writing obituaries.) (Source) Jack Gantos has been more tha...

Steaminess Rating

While Jack has a crush on Mertie-Jo Kernecky, nothing ever happens in that realm. There's some mild (and awkward) verbal flirtation on his part. Oh, and a brief description of Mertie-Jo's "tanned s...

Allusions

The Bible (6.3, 23.38)Dr. Frankenstein's monster from Mary Shelley: Frankenstein (7.31)Lazarus, from The Bible (8.66)King Arthur, from Howard Pyle: King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Tab...
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