Rocket Boys

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Homer Hickam Jr.’s older brother, Jim Hickam is a handsome, well-dressed, athletic high school football player. He argues constantly with Homer, and the two siblings delight in teasing one another—Jim teases Homer for his physical weakness and his nerdy interest in rocketry, and Homer responds by teasing Jim for his stupidity and, later, his failure to play football during his senior year. Jim further slights Homer by dating Dorothy Plunk, the girl Homer has a crush on. Ultimately, Jim leaves Coalwood to attend college on a sports scholarship. While Homer is never close with Jim, he acknowledges that he respects Jim and is proud to be his brother.

Jim Hickam Quotes in Rocket Boys

The Rocket Boys quotes below are all either spoken by Jim Hickam or refer to Jim Hickam . 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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Chapter 10 Quotes

Instead of swaggering heroically through the halls in their green and white letter jackets, Jim and the football boys trudged to class sullen and trigger-sensitive to insult.

Related Characters: Homer Hickam Jr. (speaker), Jim Hickam
Page Number: 139
Explanation and Analysis:

In his final year of high school, Jim Hickam is dismayed to learn that football has been cancelled in West Virginia schools. Football—a staple of community life in Coalwood—has been cancelled because of the national shifts in the school system. Because of the Space Race, schools have decided to focus their attention on math and science, and suddenly football is seen as a distraction from the subjects that "really matter." In this quotation, we see the results of the changes in the school system: Jim and his football buddies are understandably angry and upset about not having an outlet for their talents and ambitions. The quote also foreshadows the way that Homer Jr. and his friends will become the new heroes of the school: their rocket launches will become a community "event," filling the vacuum created by the banning of football games.

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Jim Hickam Character Timeline in Rocket Boys

The timeline below shows where the character Jim Hickam appears in Rocket Boys. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: Coalwood
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
...acts out stories about the tribe with his friends. Sometimes, Homer plays with his brother Jim as well. Once Tony hurt himself playing, and the company doctor, “Doc” Lassiter, put his... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
...one night, Homer listens to his parents talk about the history of Coalwood (his brother, Jim, would usually ignore these stories). Coalwood was founded by George L. Carter, who quickly discovered... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Parents and Children Theme Icon
Growing up, Homer and Jim saw very little of their father, because he worked long hours. To entertain themselves, they... (full context)
Chapter 2: Sputnik
Parents and Children Theme Icon
...larger and more comfortable than his previous house. Reflecting on his family, Homer notes that Jim never liked him much. It’s possible that Jim blames him for causing tension between their... (full context)
The Cold War and the Space Race Theme Icon
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Parents and Children Theme Icon
...of Sputnik spreads through Coalwood quickly. Shortly thereafter, Homer takes the bus to school with Jim. Jim, Homer notes, is a well-dressed, popular boy. Homer and Jim fought one another hundreds... (full context)
Parents and Children Theme Icon
...about high school football, which is a 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... (full context)
Chapter 3: Mom
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Parents and Children Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
...Homer knows that this isn’t exactly true, as Homer Sr. has always made time for Jim. Elsie insists that Homer has to “get out of Coalwood” by going to college. There’s... (full context)
Chapter 4: The Football Fathers
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Parents and Children Theme Icon
At home later in the day, Jim confronts Homer about his argument with Buck, and mocks him for his girlishness and stupidity.... (full context)
Parents and Children Theme Icon
A few days later, it’s the final football game of the regular season. Jim wins the game for Big Creek high school, meaning that his team has gone undefeated... (full context)
Chapter 5: Quentin
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
...teacher when she grows up. She adds that she finds Homer much more interesting than Jim—an observation that brightens up Homer immediately. The rest of the “study session” passes uneventfully, with... (full context)
Chapter 6: Mr. Bykovski
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
...interested. Emily Sue explains that Homer is nice and likeable, but not attractive to girls. Jim, by contrast, is attractive and well-dressed, but he has no real friends. Homer is hurt... (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
When Homer and Jim come home from school, Homer can tell that Jim is very angry. Jim complains that... (full context)
Parents and Children Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
...When Homer asks his father to 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... (full context)
Chapter 12: The Machinists: Auks XIV-XV
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Parents and Children Theme Icon
Homer notes that things are very tense in his house. Jim is still depressed about not being able to play football, and Homer Sr. and Elsie... (full context)
Chapter 13: The Rocket Book
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Parents and Children Theme Icon
...and sleds 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... (full context)
Chapter 14: The Pillar Explosion: Auks XVI-XIX
The Cold War and the Space Race Theme Icon
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Homer and his friends return to Homer’s house, where they find Jim sourly watching TV. Jim insults them for wasting their time on rockets, and Quentin shoots... (full context)
Chapter 15: The State Troopers
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
...whole becomes more prosperous. College football coaches also begin visiting the Hickam house to recruit Jim—much to his surprise, his suspension senior year hasn’t destroyed his chances of getting a sports... (full context)
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
Homer Sr. walks into his house, grinning—he’s just gotten news that Jim will be visited by dozens of college recruiters. Then he notices Homer looking glum, and... (full context)
Chapter 16: A Natural Arrogance: Auk XX
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Parents and Children Theme Icon
...rocket launches at Cape Coalwood. He further accuses Homer Sr. of paying more attention to Jim than to him. Homer Sr. doesn’t respond directly to these accusations, but he does suggest... (full context)
Chapter 17: Valentine
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Parents and Children Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
...in the basement of a local restaurant. Homer agrees, and suggests that they ride with Jim. Unfortunately, Jim has already left by the time Homer calls to ask him for a... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Parents and Children Theme Icon
...looking beautiful. He’s glad to see her, until he realizes that she’s going out with Jim. He watches in horror as they dance, slowly and romantically. Suddenly, he hears a voice—it’s... (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
...Dorothy when she tries to comfort him. As he walks away from her, Homer hears Jim say, “what a dope.” Miss Riley asks Homer why he’s not working on rockets anymore,... (full context)
The Cold War and the Space Race Theme Icon
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
...taken Mrs. Bykovski’s advice to heart. Nevertheless, he looks at his life in Coalwood coldly. Jim will be going to college on a sports scholarship. Homer himself plans on going to... (full context)
Chapter 20: O’Dell’s Treasure
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
One day, Homer is hitchhiking to school, having missed his bus because Jim took too long in the shower. As he’s walking, he notices Jake driving his Corvette.... (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
...that the property sales are in effect, there was no more need for him. Meanwhile, Jim goes off to college, having ended his relationship with Dorothy. Homer hears that Valentine and... (full context)
Chapter 24: A Suit for Indianapolis
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
...men’s store in Welch called Philips and Cloony. Inside, he finds that the clerk knows Jim—a regular at the store. The clerk enthusiastically helps Homer find a beautiful suit. While he’s... (full context)
Epilogue
The Cold War and the Space Race Theme Icon
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
...heart attack when he was only 26 years old. Billy, Quentin, and Homer became engineers. Jim became a hugely successful football coach. Homer admits that he’s enormously proud to be Jim’s... (full context)