Study Guide

Dead End in Norvelt Chapter 13

By Jack Gantos

Chapter 13

  • It's Jack's birthday (his twelfth), and he gets a container of grease remover from his mother.
  • Gee, thanks, Mom.
  • Actually, it's a pretty good present: it'll remove bloodstains from his clothes.
  • Norvelt has a pretty cool tradition of gift-giving. Jack will get three gifts: a good gift (something useful: a shovel and some dish towels), a better gift (a deed to be done for someone else: volunteering to read to patients at the hospital), and a best gift.
  • The best gift? He actually gets a few: a GET OUT OF JAIL FREE card (yes—the book shouts this out), a coupon for ONE FLIGHT IN THE J-3, and one ticket for a DOUBLE FEATURE AT VIKING DRIVE-IN (12.47).
  • He also gets a two-dollar bill, and will start earning an allowance.
  • After the small celebration, Jack drives Miss Volker to her church.
  • Here's a big surprise: Miss Volker gives him her car (but it's a deferred gift: he can't have it until she dies).
  • She also tells him to stop taking his iron drops, because it might be giving him hemochromatosis (a condition in which the blood has too much iron and causes organ issues and depression). Apparently, Ernest Hemingway suffered from this.
  • While sitting in church, Jack muses about different visions of heaven. His favorite one revolves around fresh, fluffy bread.
  • Fresh, fluffy bread sounds pretty heavenly to us. Especially with some nice fresh butter and jam.
  • Excuse us while we head out for a snack.