Rocket Boys

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Dorothy Plunk Character Analysis

A student at Big Creek High School, and the object of Homer’s affections throughout the course of Rocket Boys. Dorothy Plunk is, in addition to being beautiful, an intelligent student—ultimately the valedictorian of Big Creek. Although Dorothy frequently expresses her affection for Homer, she never agrees to date him—she’s usually too busy dating other, more “serious” people—including, much to Homer’s chagrin, Jim Hickam. Ultimately, Homer comes to regard Dorothy as a good friend, if not the love of his life. Dorothy’s “epilogue” is arguably the most sobering in Rocket Boys: while her talented male peers go on to impressive careers with NASA and the Air Force, Dorothy settles down with a husband and children, reminding us of the narrow options available to women in the 60s and 70s.
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Dorothy Plunk Character Timeline in Rocket Boys

The timeline below shows where the character Dorothy Plunk appears in Rocket Boys. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2: Sputnik
The Cold War and the Space Race Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
...on their studies in order to compete with the Soviet Union. Homer exchanges glances with Dorothy Plunk, who seems frightened by the prospect of a Soviet satellite. Homer whispers to Roy... (full context)
Chapter 5: Quentin
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
...was talking with Quentin. Roy Lee insists that Homer will never have a chance with Dorothy if he’s seen with Quentin, and threatens to ask Dorothy out if Homer doesn’t soon.... (full context)
The Cold War and the Space Race Theme Icon
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
It is Sunday, and Homer has gone to Dorothy’s house to study with her. Dorothy is eager to hear about Homer’s rockets. She believes... (full context)
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
The next day at school, Homer resolves to ask Dorothy out. When he approaches her, however, he’s horrified to see her making weekend plans with... (full context)
Chapter 6: Mr. Bykovski
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Homer leaves Quentin to go to his class. Inside, Emily Sue asks Homer about Dorothy. Homer notes that he thinks of Emily Sue as a “forever friend”—someone he can be... (full context)
Chapter 8: Construction of the Cape
The Cold War and the Space Race Theme Icon
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
As the students leave the auditorium, Homer notices that Dorothy is crying, and the footballer players look furious. Buck yells that he’ll never be able... (full context)
Chapter 9: Jake Mosby (Auks V-VIII)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Parents and Children Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
...his rockets, thereby making their steering more even. Homer confesses to O’Dell that he wants Dorothy to come to the next launching. O’Dell advises Homer to get over his infatuation—Dorothy is... (full context)
Chapter 10: Miss Riley (Auks IX-XI)
The Cold War and the Space Race Theme Icon
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
At the end of the school day, Homer sees Dorothy outside. She asks him to come over on Sunday for studying, and adds that she’s... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
On Sunday, Homer goes to Dorothy’s house to study, and she embraces him warmly for helping her study. Homer tries to... (full context)
Chapter 12: The Machinists: Auks XIV-XV
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
In late November, Homer asks Dorothy to the Christmas formal. Dorothy sadly shakes her head—she’s already agreed to go with the... (full context)
Chapter 13: The Rocket Book
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
...Emily Sue’s house to play cards. At Emily Sue’s house, Homer is pleased to find Dorothy, though he notices Roy Lee looking at him unhappily—clearly, Roy Lee’s come to dislike Dorothy.... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
...few hours, Homer’s friends leave Emily Sue’s house. Homer hangs back, hoping to talk to Dorothy a little longer. Dorothy emerges from hiding, and Homer apologizes for asking her for a... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
Emily Sue tells Dorothy that her mother is on her way to pick her up. Dorothy and Homer step... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Homer, still reeling from Dorothy’s kiss, prepares to make his way home by sled. He manages to sled down the... (full context)
Chapter 14: The Pillar Explosion: Auks XVI-XIX
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
...for the event is Valentine Carmina. Confidently, Valentine tells Homer that he should look past Dorothy to “other girls,” hinting that she’s interested in him. Homer is lost for words, and... (full context)
Chapter 15: The State Troopers
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
...six applicants, he’ll be unable to take the class. Homer learns from Mr. Turner that Dorothy Plunk took his place. While Homer is crushed by this news, he’s not angry with... (full context)
Chapter 17: Valentine
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Parents and Children Theme Icon
Homer sees Dorothy, looking beautiful. He’s glad to see her, until he realizes that she’s going out with... (full context)
Chapter 18: The Bump
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Homer goes to bed, still thinking about Valentine. He’s forgotten about Dorothy forever, he realizes—he’ll never be able to look at her now that she’s gone out... (full context)
Chapter 19: Picking Up and Going On: Auk XXI
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
...Valentine, who seems to be spending more and more time with Buck. He even ignores Dorothy when she tries to comfort him. As he walks away from her, Homer hears Jim... (full context)
Chapter 22: We Do the Math: Auks XXII-XXIV
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
...more need for him. Meanwhile, Jim goes off to college, having ended his relationship with Dorothy. Homer hears that Valentine and Buck have gotten married. Homer is worried for Valentine. When... (full context)
Chapter 23: Science Fairs
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
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Parents and Children Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
...with at the Christmas formal, to the prom, and she eagerly accepts. Homer learns that Dorothy has a new boyfriend, another college student, and Homer makes a point of “not caring.” (full context)
Chapter 24: A Suit for Indianapolis
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
...suit. In the car ride to the suit store, Homer asks—as casually as he can—about Dorothy. Emily Sue informs him that Dorothy isn’t interested in Homer, even though she feels bad... (full context)
Chapter 26: All Systems Go: Auks XXVI-XXXI (June 4, 1960)
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Homer and his friends graduate from Big Creek. Dorothy is the valedictorian, and Quentin the salutatorian. Most of the other BCMA members are in... (full context)
Epilogue
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Homer continues to explain what happened to the characters in Rocket Boys. “Dorothy”—which he admits is a false name—became a wonderful wife and mother. When Homer saw Dorothy... (full context)