Rocket Boys

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The father of Homer Hickam Jr., Homer Hickam Sr. is a strong, stoic employee of the mining company, the institution that dominates life in Coalwood. Homer Sr. is devoted to Coalwood’s mine: he works long hours there, going far above and beyond the requirements of his job, and even continues working there when the doctors diagnose a deadly “black spot” in his lungs. Like his son, Homer Sr. is an ambitious man, and has managed to attain a position as the mine superintendent, despite having no college degree. One consequence of Homer Sr.’s success is that many of the townspeople dislike him—in part because he’s considered “too big for his britches,” and in part because he’s usually forced to side with the mining company against the miners, even when doing so means firing employees. During the course of Rocket Boys, Homer Sr. shows occasional signs of supporting his son’s interests in rocketry and engineering, but these signs are nearly always tempered by his sense of disappointment: he’s upset that Homer Jr. doesn’t want to be a mining engineer.

Homer Hickam Sr. Quotes in Rocket Boys

The Rocket Boys quotes below are all either spoken by Homer Hickam Sr. or refer to Homer Hickam Sr. . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Cold War and the Space Race Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Dell edition of Rocket Boys published in 2000.
Chapter 3 Quotes

I knew Dad thought about Jim all the time, was always telling people what a great football player my brother was, and how he was going to tear up the world in football when he went to college.

Related Characters: Homer Hickam Jr. (speaker), Homer Hickam Sr. , Jim Hickam
Page Number: 43
Explanation and Analysis:

At home, Homer Jr. competes with his brother, Jim, for the attention of their father, Homer Sr., the chief engineer of the Coalwood coal mine. Jim is as different from Homer Jr. as two brothers can be: as the quotation explains, Jim is a talented football player, and Homer Sr. supports Jim's athleticism, since he thinks Jim will be able to go to college on a scholarship, get an education, and make a better life for himself. Homer Jr. is clearly jealous of Jim's success. More to the point, he's jealous that his father is impressed with Jim's dreams of playing college ball, but pays little attention to Homer's dreams of launching rockets.

The quotation is important because it shows that one of Homer's primary motivations for building rockets is impressing his family, especially his father. While Homer wants to go to college, meet Dr. von Braun, etc., his dreams are also very simple: he wants his father to love and respect him.

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I didn’t know what to say. I just stared at her. She sighed. “To get out of here, you’ve got to show your dad you’re smarter than he thinks. I believe you can build a rocket. He doesn’t. I want you to show him I’m right and he’s wrong. Is that too much to ask?”

Related Characters: Homer Hickam Jr. (speaker), Elsie Lavender Hickam (speaker), Homer Hickam Sr.
Related Symbols: Rockets
Page Number: 44
Explanation and Analysis:

In this scene, Homer's mother, Elsie, gives her son the encouragement he needs to build rockets. Elsie knows that Homer wants to design rockets, and she also recognizes that he wants to do so partly to impress his father, who's always turned a deaf ear to Homer's accomplishments. Elsie tells her son to build rockets to prove Homer Sr. wrong: to prove that Homer Jr.'s dreams of engineering aren't just dreams at all.

The quotation also sheds light on Elsie's motivations for encouraging Homer. While it's true that Elsie, like any loving mother, wants her son to succeed, there's also a more complicated side to her actions. As Homer Jr. makes clear throughout Rocket Boys, Elsie is frustrated with her life in Coalwood: she doesn't have many creative outlets, and she seems unable to discuss her problems with Homer Sr., since he's been living in Coalwood for years, and can't sympathize with her. In part, then, Elsie tells Homer Jr. to build rockets because Homer's success will be an outlet for her own frustrations: she wants her child to succeed and escape town because she can't.

Chapter 7 Quotes

“You want to thank me.” He nodded toward the box. “Make these fly. Show your dad what you and I did together.”
My father had clearly, in no uncertain terms, told me to stop building rockets. The BCMA was now an outlaw organization. I don’t know why, but that felt good. I had the urge to hug Mr. Bykovski, but resisted it. Instead, I stood straight and tall, and said firmly, and what I hoped was manfully, “Yes, sir. You can count on me.”

Related Characters: Homer Hickam Jr. (speaker), Mr. Isaac Bykovski (speaker), Homer Hickam Sr.
Related Symbols: Rockets
Page Number: 97
Explanation and Analysis:

Homer Jr. goes to many neighbors and friends for help as he designs his rockets, and one of the most important mentors he comes across is Isaac Bykovski. Isaac teaches Homer valuable information about rocket design, and acts as a supportive father figure in place of Homer Sr.'s criticism. But then Homer Sr. fires Isaac from his job in the metal shop—Homer Sr. doesn't want anyone helping his son building rockets. In this scene, Isaac tells Homer Jr. to keep building rockets anyway.

The scene is important partly because it shows Homer Jr. accumulating a "debt" to the people in his community. While it's true that Homer Jr. feels a strong ambition to build rockets and go to college, he's helped along this path by dozens of mentors and friends in the town of Coalwood. By the end of the book, Homer isn't just launching rockets for himself; he's launching rockets because he "owes" it to people like Isaac. Furthermore, the scene is important because it shows us how Homer Jr. becomes an adult in the process of designing rockets. Here, Homer comes to learn the concept of honor-he must honor Isaac's help and support by succeeding with his project. Rockets aren't a childish diversion for Homer; they teach him the importance of honor, as well as integrity, loyalty, and maturity.

Chapter 12 Quotes

Machining and materials for gravel. Gravel, like all things in Coalwood, could be supplied by my father. After I completed my engineering drawing of the nozzle, there was nothing to do but to go up to the mine. Dad looked up from his desk when I entered his office. “I heard you’ve been talking to Ike Bykovski,” he said. “And now you’re visiting Leon Ferro. You get around, don’t you?”

Related Characters: Homer Hickam Jr. (speaker), Homer Hickam Sr. (speaker), Mr. Isaac Bykovski , Mr. Leon Ferro
Page Number: 184
Explanation and Analysis:

Homer Jr. is under strict instructions from his father, Homer Sr., not to build any more rockets. In part, Homer Sr. doesn't want his son building rockets because he thinks they're a danger to the mine: indeed, Homer's first rocket blows up, nearly hurting bystanders. Furthermore, Homer Sr. doesn't want Homer Jr. asking anyone in town—Ike and Leon included—about rocket design. In this quotation, Homer Sr. calls out his son for disobeying him on more than one occasion.

Homer Sr.'s gruffness in this scene might suggest that he doesn't want his son building rockets—in other words, just reiterating what he told his son earlier. But the very fact that Homer Sr. knows so much about Homer Jr.'s actions may suggest that he's keeping on eye on Homer Jr. for reasons other than criticizing or punishing him. As the book goes on, Hickam leads us to believe that Homer Sr. is grudgingly impressed with his son's intelligence and determination. So as intimidating as Homer Sr. might seem to be in this scene, there's also faint suggestion that he's secretly impressed with and supportive of his son.

“Mining’s in your blood, little man,” he shrugged. “I guess you’ll figure that out, sooner or later.”
“I still want to work for Dr. von Braun.”
He nodded. “We’ll see.”

Related Characters: Homer Hickam Jr. (speaker), Homer Hickam Sr. (speaker), Wernher von Braun
Page Number: 185
Explanation and Analysis:

In this confrontation between Homer Sr. and Homer Jr., a lot is revealed about both characters. Homer Jr. makes it very clear that he has lofty ambitions of working for NASA, under the leadership of Werner von Braun. Indeed, von Braun is something of an alternate "father figure" for Homer Jr.—a role model. Homer Jr.'s love for von Braun suggests that he sees something insufficient in his father's personality and career choice: he wants to be something more than a mining engineer, and for this reason he looks beyond Coalwood for his heroes.

Homer Sr.'s behavior in this scene is equally revealing. He's an engineer, meaning that he can't entirely dislike what his son is doing with rockets. Homer Jr.'s rocket launches are a tribute to his father's own talents as an engineer (one could say that engineering, not mining, is in his blood). So it's not that Homer Sr. doesn't want his son to become a NASA engineer; instead, he just doesn't think this is a realistic dream. Homer Sr. wants his son to have a good, steady job that will enable him to raise a family. It's for this reason that he wants his son to abandon rocket science for the time being and focus on becoming a mining employee.

Chapter 13 Quotes

I suddenly felt proud of [my father], more than for just his long-ago act of heroism, but because of what he had once been back in Gary and all that he had become because of his hard work.

Related Characters: Homer Hickam Jr. (speaker), Homer Hickam Sr.
Page Number: 210
Explanation and Analysis:

Homer discovers that his father is a hero: years ago, Homer Sr. found a baby in a burning building, and he risked his own life to carry the baby to safety. Years later, Homer meets that "baby," now a grown woman named Geneva Eggers, and learns about his father's bravery.

In spite of the anger he sometimes feels toward his father—mostly when his father forbids him from pursuing his passion of building rockets—Homer also develops a deep respect for the way his father has lived his life. It is important to note that it's not Homer Sr.'s bravery that really impresses Homer. Rather, Homer is more impressed with Homer Sr.'s hard work and perseverance while working for the mine in Coalwood. Homer's respect for his father's hard work suggests that it "takes one to know one"; in other words, Homer respects his father because Homer himself has been working very hard on his rockets.

Chapter 16 Quotes

“When you grow up, you’re going to find out there’s a lot of things you’re going to have to do whether you like it or not.”

Related Characters: Homer Hickam Sr. (speaker)
Page Number: 228
Explanation and Analysis:

When Homer Sr. finds out that Homer Jr. is teaching himself calculus so that he can better calculate the heights attained by rockets, Homer Sr. is irritated, and criticizes his son for teaching himself mathematics. In this quotation, Homer Sr. gives his son a blunt, simple explanation of why he's wasting his time with rockets. Homer Sr. is trying to convince his son to become a mining engineer in Coalwood. As he says here, being a mining engineer in Coalwood is hardly an ideal position, but being an adult involves doing certain things you don't want to do.

While Homer Sr.  has a point, he goes too far in discouraging his son from learning calculus—surely calculus is useful information whether one becomes a rocket or a mining engineer. Homer Sr.'s continued irritation with his son suggests that he doesn't like Homer Jr.'s rocket projects for personal, psychological reasons. As Homer Sr. makes clear in the quotation, his own adulthood has been full of failures and bitter compromises. Homer Jr.'s enthusiasm reminds Homer Sr. of his own youthful ambition—ambition which was sadly thwarted. So Homer Sr. is being both protective of and poisonous to his son: he wants to protect Homer Jr. from the same failures he went through, but in doing so, he's killing his child's dreams.

Chapter 26 Quotes

“You did really good, Dad,” I told him as a spasm of deep, oily coughs racked his body. “Nobody ever launched a better rocket than you.”

Related Characters: Homer Hickam Jr. (speaker), Homer Hickam Sr.
Related Symbols: Rockets
Page Number: 362
Explanation and Analysis:

In this scene, Homer allows his father, who's suffering from a horrible coughing fit brought on by decades of working in a mine, to launch the BCMA's final rocket. When the rocket reaches up to a great height, Homer Jr. tells his father that he (Homer Sr.) did a great job launching the rocket. The quotation foreshadows Homer Sr.'s tragic death from lung complications, but the quote also captures an important step in Homer Jr.'s coming of age. Homer seems unusually mature and civil in the way he treats his father. It would be easy for Homer to taunt Homer Sr.—to remind his father of how he once forbade Homer from building any rockets at all. Instead, Homer compliments and encourages his father, showing that Homer has become a mature young man.

Finally, the quote underscores both a poignant moment of closeness and the continued distance between Homer Junior and Homer Senior. By all rights, it should be Homer Sr. complimenting his son on his superlative rocket designs. And yet Homer Sr. never offers such congratulations. Hickam suggests that Homer Sr. is too proud and too stubborn to admit that he was wrong to ban his son from rocket design; but in this brief, almost cathartic moment, the two are united and support each other. However, the politeness and sadness of the scene suggest that Homer will never feel completely close with his father—a conclusion that Hickam confirms in the novel's Epilogue.

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Homer Hickam Sr. Character Timeline in Rocket Boys

The timeline below shows where the character Homer Hickam Sr. appears in Rocket Boys. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: Coalwood
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
...year Homer began building rockets, there were only 2,000 people living there. Homer’s father is Homer Hickam Sr. , who works as the superintendent of a coal mine. Homer lives in a company-owned... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
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...has been working for the mine since he was 22 years old. Laird recognized that Homer Hickam Sr. was an intelligent man, and quickly promoted him to foreman. Hickam wrote to his high... (full context)
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In 1950, Homer Sr . discovered that he had colon cancer. Instead of seeking medical attention, he devoted himself... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
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Elsie resents Homer Sr . for spending so much time in the mines. Her four brothers, Robert, Ken, Charlie,... (full context)
Chapter 2: Sputnik
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When Homer is 11 years old, The Captain retires, and Homer Sr . takes his job. Homer Sr. moves his family into The Captain’s house, which is... (full context)
The Cold War and the Space Race Theme Icon
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
...the planet and measures the weather. Elsie nods and says that this news will infuriate Homer Sr., a loyal Communist-hater. Homer Sr. often argues with Elsie’s brother, “Uncle Ken.” Ken is a... (full context)
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
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...by the same mining company that owns Coalwood. Many of the miners in Caretta hate Homer Sr . for taking The Captain’s job. There’s also Premier, a “red light” area where prostitutes... (full context)
Parents and Children Theme Icon
...huge part of Coalwood town life. Homer’s brother, Jim, is a talented football player, and Homer Sr . serves as the president of the Big Creek Football Father’s Association. Homer Sr. is... (full context)
The Cold War and the Space Race Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
...be passing over West Virginia, Homer goes outside, accompanied by his mother and his friends. Homer Sr . arrives, incredulous that a Soviet satellite is flying over American territory. Suddenly, O’Dell sees... (full context)
Chapter 3: Mom
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...the fence itself. Elsie runs outside and yells at Homer. Before she can get far, Homer Sr . rushes outside, and Elsie begins yelling at him. They begin arguing about Homer Sr.’s... (full context)
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...right research. Elsie tells Homer that she doesn’t know what he’ll do with his life— Homer Sr . thinks that he’s going to end up working as a clerk or a typist.... (full context)
Chapter 4: The Football Fathers
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The next day, Homer encounters Pooky Suggs, a rude young man who blames Homer Sr . for his own father’s death in the mines. Tom Tickle, a friendly miner, tries... (full context)
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...compete in the state championship game—Big Creek has played too many games with Virginia schools. Homer Sr . is so outraged by this news that he resolves to see a lawyer in... (full context)
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One week later, Homer Sr . has visited a lawyer and put together a case for Big Creek’s competing in... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
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...to Coalwood, and union tension arises. The leader of the miners’ union, John Dubonnet, knows Homer Sr . from high school. In the last ten years, Coalwood has experienced disruptions in its... (full context)
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One night, John Dubonnet visits Homer Sr .’s house. Homer Sr. angrily tells John that he can come to his office, but... (full context)
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Shortly before Thanksgiving, Homer Sr . gets orders from Mr. Van Dyke, the general mining superintendent, to visit the doctor... (full context)
Chapter 5: Quentin
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
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...Coalwood. John explains to Homer that in a few years, Coalwood will be no more— Homer Sr . seems to be the only one in Coalwood who doesn’t know this. With this,... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
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...fizzles up and melts when Homer ignites it. The second blows up, throwing shrapnel everywhere. Homer Sr . notices this, and yells at Homer for pursuing his rockets. Elsie jumps in and,... (full context)
Chapter 6: Mr. Bykovski
The Cold War and the Space Race Theme Icon
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
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...the Explorer-1 satellite. The launch is a great success—a fact that invigorates Homer, but leaves Homer Sr . unimpressed. Homer’s friends come by, and Homer takes the opportunity to talk to Roy... (full context)
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...fuse on Auk IV, and watches as the rocket flies toward the mine, eventually hitting Homer Sr .’s office. Homer Sr. rushes out of his office toward Homer. He yells at Homer... (full context)
Chapter 7: Cape Coalwood
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After Homer’s rocket fails, Homer Sr . and Homer walk home. Homer Sr. orders Homer to stop “fooling around” with rockets.... (full context)
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Elsie speaks with Homer privately. She explains that Homer Sr . is under pressure from his bosses because of Homer’s rocket. She subtly encourages Homer... (full context)
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The next day, Homer goes to visit Mr. Bykovski. Bykovski explains that Homer Sr . fired him from the machine shop and sent him to work in the mines... (full context)
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Shortly after detonating soda cans for the first time, Elsie brings Homer to talk with Homer Sr . Elsie explains that Homer needs a place where he can experiment with rockets without... (full context)
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Outside the church, Homer Sr . tells Homer that it’s time for him to learn to drive a car. Homer... (full context)
Chapter 8: Construction of the Cape
The Cold War and the Space Race Theme Icon
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...Mr. Turner announces that the school’s football team has been placed on suspension—as punishment for Homer Sr .’s attempts at legal maneuvering, there will be no games played next year. Turner adds... (full context)
The Cold War and the Space Race Theme Icon
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...come home from school, Homer can tell that Jim is very angry. Jim complains that Homer Sr . has ruined his chances at a football scholarship. Homer Sr. insists that he’ll pay... (full context)
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...mine. At the mine, he finds Mr. McDuff, a lumber worker. Homer tells McDuff that Homer Sr . has promised Homer building materials: scrap lumber and tin. Another worker, Mr. Leon Ferro,... (full context)
Parents and Children Theme Icon
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...inspect his launchpad, he declines. Homer thinks that if Jim had been on the BCMA, Homer Sr . would be supporting him whole-heartedly. Homer Sr. mentions that Mr. Bykovski wants to teach... (full context)
Chapter 9: Jake Mosby (Auks V-VIII)
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As the mine superintendent, Homer Sr . brings new mining engineers in from Ohio and shows them how to work in... (full context)
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...launches at the Big Store. Afterwards, Homer meets with his father and asks about concrete. Homer Sr . replies that the mining company has no extra cement, but mentions that he knows... (full context)
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...of the mine and find mint-condition cement. Homer wonders what this could mean—it’s as if Homer Sr . is giving him excellent supplies while saying that he’s giving him poor supplies. (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
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...the miners go on vacation. Homer remembers past vacations he’s taken with his family—on one, Homer Sr . and Elsie were affectionate, and even slept in the same bed. When the time... (full context)
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...a visit from Mr. Bykovski, who offers to teach Homer more welding. Homer senses that Homer Sr . sent Bykovski, perhaps because he felt guilty about sending Bykovski to the mines. After... (full context)
Chapter 10: Miss Riley (Auks IX-XI)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
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...and finds that it yields flame, gas, and heat—the three vital ingredients for rocket propulsion. Homer Sr . notices Homer’s experiments, and, much to Homer’s surprise, compliments him for his studiousness. (full context)
Chapter 11: Rocket Candy: Auks XII-XIII
The Cold War and the Space Race Theme Icon
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...in the day, Homer comes home to find his father sitting in his easy chair. Homer Sr . asks Homer if he’s thinking of becoming an engineer, and Homer isn’t sure how... (full context)
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It is Sunday, and Homer Sr . is about to execute his “plan.” Homer stays home from Sunday school, and walks... (full context)
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Homer Sr . shows Homer around the coalmine. He explains that engineers are a vital part of... (full context)
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Homer Sr . tells Homer to stay for the mine’s latest “operation.” He leads him deep into... (full context)
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Homer Sr . asks Homer, point blank, if he’s interested in being a mining engineer, hinting that... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
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...her church clothes. When Elsie sees Homer covered in coal dust, she bursts into tears. Homer Sr . tries to comfort Elsie, telling her that Homer is thinking of becoming a mining... (full context)
Chapter 12: The Machinists: Auks XIV-XV
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
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...in his house. Jim is still depressed about not being able to play football, and Homer Sr . and Elsie are constantly fighting. Homer decides to devote himself to rocket science again.... (full context)
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Homer goes to his father and asks for help obtaining gravel. Homer Sr . says that this is impossible. He also inspects Homer’s rocket drawings, and helps him... (full context)
Chapter 13: The Rocket Book
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...the woman introduces herself as Geneva Eggers, and Homer replies that he’s the son of Homer Hickam, Sr. Geneva, surprised, explains that she’s known Homer Sr. for many years. She offers Homer a... (full context)
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...all the way back to the mines. When Homer arrives home, he finds Jim and Homer Sr . waiting for him. When he’s alone with Homer Sr., he shows him Miss Riley’s... (full context)
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The next evening, Homer Sr . sits down with Homer and tells him a story. When Homer Sr. was in... (full context)
Chapter 14: The Pillar Explosion: Auks XVI-XIX
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The night after Homer’s insight, there is an earthquake in Coalwood. Homer is frightened that Homer Sr., who’s working in the mine, will be crushed to death, though he remembers his father... (full context)
Chapter 15: The State Troopers
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Homer Sr . walks into his house, grinning—he’s just gotten news that Jim will be visited by... (full context)
Chapter 16: A Natural Arrogance: Auk XX
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In March 1959, Homer Sr . leaves Coalwood to attend a mining-engineering conference in Ohio. The entire week that he’s... (full context)
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A few days after Homer Sr . returns, he finds Homer studying calculus in his old math book. Homer Sr. accuses... (full context)
Chapter 18: The Bump
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...source of oxygen, and could die soon. As Elsie explains all of this to Homer, Homer Sr . rushes through the kitchen, about to head to the mine. Elsie sends Homer to... (full context)
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...is dead. Then, Homer sees his father—he’s wearing a bloody bandage over his eye. As Homer Sr . walks away, “Doc” Lassiter whispers to Homer that a dozen men would have died... (full context)
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The next day, Homer Sr . goes to the hospital. Homer visits him many times. At the same time, he... (full context)
Chapter 20: O’Dell’s Treasure
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Homer Sr .’s eye hasn’t healed properly since the mining accident—he can’t see clearly, and probably never... (full context)
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...Level, where Doc lives. There, Doc sutures Homer’s wrist. He offers Homer anesthetic, mentioning that Homer Sr . never needed it. Homer refuses anesthetic, but when Doc begins sewing the stitches, he... (full context)
Chapter 21: Zincoshine: Auks XXII, A, B, C, and D
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After a particularly difficult meeting with the union, Homer Sr . returns to his home, reporting that the union wants to know how to pay... (full context)
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...big container of alcohol, Elsie scolds him for drinking. Nevertheless, he hears her laughing with Homer Sr . as he goes to bed, and the sound of their laughter cheers him up. (full context)
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...and their power, but not their rockets. Nevertheless, Mr. Fuller promises to report Homer to Homer Sr . (full context)
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Shortly after the launching of Auk XXII-D, Homer Sr . calls Homer to his office. He tells Homer they’re going for a ride. Homer... (full context)
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Suddenly, Mr. Dubonnet drives up to Cape Coalwood. He tells Homer Sr . that it’s not right that Fuller is taking apart Homer’s launchpad. Dubonnet even threatens... (full context)
Chapter 22: We Do the Math: Auks XXII-XXIV
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A few days after Homer Sr .’s argument with Mr. Fuller, Mr. Fuller leaves town. This could be because of Homer... (full context)
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...rocket. They load their rocket with zinc fuel, drying it for hours and hours. Meanwhile, Homer Sr . is forced to fire miners from Coalwood due to industry cutbacks. This is an... (full context)
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...finds him a little odd, particularly because of his strange, nasal voice and Boston accent. Homer Sr . mutters that the Kennedys are the “worst kind of people,” explaining that Joe Kennedy,... (full context)
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One day, Homer is talking with Homer Sr . in their house. Homer Sr. is discussing the dangers of unchecked greed, and argues... (full context)
Chapter 23: Science Fairs
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Someone has just tried to shoot Homer Sr . in his own home. There is a sound of screeching tires—whoever fired the shot... (full context)
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As Homer Sr . calmly discusses his would-be killer, Elsie interjects: she’s going to buy a house in... (full context)
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...fair. Homer goes to talk to Mr. Caton at his store, where he also finds Homer Sr . Homer Sr. and Mr. Caton argue over how long the strike will last—it could... (full context)
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...presidency. Kennedy has proposed sending federal assistance to the miners: free food and other resources. Homer Sr . finds this infuriating, since it means that the miners in Coalwood will try to... (full context)
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...science fair finals. Homer is overjoyed, and he can’t wait to tell Miss Riley and Homer Sr . (full context)
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Shortly after Homer’s victory at the science fair, Elsie and Homer Sr . leave for Myrtle Beach, since it’s the usual time of year for miners’ vacations.... (full context)
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...days later, his mother and father return from Myrtle Beach. Elsie, delighted, tells Homer that Homer Sr . has agreed to retire from mining and go into real estate near Myrtle Beach... (full context)
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...One day, while he’s in his room, he hears a screech of tires. Elsie and Homer Sr . yell downstairs, and Homer comes running down to them. He is shocked to see... (full context)
Chapter 24: A Suit for Indianapolis
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...Homer reluctantly replaces his orange suit with a more modest blue one. Back in Coalwood, Homer Sr . and Elsie compliment Homer on his appearance in the new suit. Homer mentions that... (full context)
Chapter 25: The National Science Fair
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...with a set of shiny new nozzles, precisely designed for maximum efficiency. Homer notices that Homer Sr . seems relatively uninterested in Homer’s science fair pursuits. He rarely brings up the subject. (full context)
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Shortly before the science fair begins, Homer overhears Elsie ask Homer Sr . if he’s told the company he’s quitting yet. Homer Sr. replies that he’ll need... (full context)
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...Many Coalwoodians show up to see Homer off: Basil, Mr. Turner, Melba June, Mr. Dubonnet, Homer Sr., Elsie, Mr. Caton, Mr. Ferro, and the entire BCMA. Just before Homer gets on the... (full context)
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...he needs extra rocket parts, immediately. Elsie explains to Homer that this will be impossible— Homer Sr . is busy with the strike. Homer goes to bed, thinking that, much like his... (full context)
Chapter 26: All Systems Go: Auks XXVI-XXXI (June 4, 1960)
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...mother, the entire town of Coalwood had been alerted to Homer’s problem. Accompanied by Elsie, Homer Sr . argued “nose-to-nose” with Mr. Dubonnet. In the midst of the argument, Mr. Caton intervened,... (full context)
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Homer realizes what Homer Sr .’s decision to sign the union’s agreements mean. Because his relationship with the union is... (full context)
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...Saturday in June of 1960—the day of the final rocket launch—Homer is sad to see Homer Sr . walk to the mine for his usual schedule instead of attending. At the launch,... (full context)
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...science fair. Just as Homer is about to launch the rocket, he hears a noise—it’s Homer Sr., taking time off from his schedule to witness his son’s achievements. (full context)
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Homer calls Homer Sr . to his side and asks him if he would like to launch Auk XXXI... (full context)
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Homer turns to his father. Homer Sr . is beaming—he praises the rocket for being “beautiful.” Suddenly, he begins to cough, and... (full context)
Epilogue
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Homer Sr . continued to work at the mine for years, despite his damaged lungs. He was... (full context)
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...at Coalwood were finally shutting down. When Homer talked with his father on the phone, Homer Sr . sounded healthy and confident—nevertheless, Elsie told Homer that Homer Sr.’s lungs were rapidly deteriorating.... (full context)
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After Homer Sr .’s death, Homer looked through the old boxes left at his parents’ house in Coalwood.... (full context)