Study Guide

Dead End in Norvelt Chapter 14

By Jack Gantos

Chapter 14

  • In the middle of the night, Jack wakes up to the sound of motorcycles. And a fire.
  • Miss Volker's sister's house is burning down.
  • The "nice young man" Miss Volker sold the house to is, indeed, the deceased Hells Angel.
  • The fire seriously upsets Miss Volker, who tells Jack that she feels like "a box full of cold ashes" (14.43). She dictates a different kind of obituary: one memorializing the dead house.
  • Eleanor Roosevelt was the godmother of the burned house, Miss Volker points out, because she demanded that the government allow the original poor residents of the town to have decent houses (instead of barnlike accommodations without running water, which was apparently the government's original plan). 
  • We also learn that Miss Volker's sister adopted a Japanese baby boy during WWII after his biological parents were put in an internment camp. But a few months later, the government took the baby away and he was never heard from again.