Rocket Boys

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Reverend “Little” Richard Character Analysis

Reverend “Little” Richard is the charismatic leader of Coalwood’s black church. Homer visits him many times during the course of Rocket Boys, sometimes for help obtaining supplies for rocket-building, but often to seek moral guidance. Reverend Richard is generous with his time, and never ceases to encourage Homer to dream and follow his ambitions.

Reverend “Little” Richard Quotes in Rocket Boys

The Rocket Boys quotes below are all either spoken by Reverend “Little” Richard or refer to Reverend “Little” Richard . 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 8 Quotes

“Love to help ya, I really would,” he said, “but I don’t have enough for my roof as it is.”
I looked up. “But your roof is shingled.”
He nodded “If I had shingles, I’d use ‘em. But I don’t. I’ve got tin.”
“Emmett Jones has a bunch of shingles stacked up next to his coal box,” O’Dell said. “almost the same color.”

Related Characters: Homer Hickam Jr. (speaker), Reverend “Little” Richard (speaker), Emmett Jones
Related Symbols: Rockets
Page Number: 116
Explanation and Analysis:

In this scene, Homer and the other BCMA members get an impromptu lesson in engineering. They're trying to find materials to design rockets and a rocket launching pad, but find it difficult to track down the necessary metal and shingles. Here, the Reverend Richard gives the boys some advice in obtaining resources, referring them to someone (Emmett) who has what the boys need.

During their days as engineers, the Rocket Boys are often forced to spend large hours tracking down the materials they need to build rockets. Their mission to track down shingles and tin might seem like a waste of time, considering that many other students in the country wouldn't have to go to such an effort—their parents would have the money to just buy them what they needed. But surprisingly, having to track down resources doesn't necessarily disadvantage the BCMA: on the contrary, it makes them better workers and better scientists. Where wealthier students would buy tin and shingles without batting an eye, the BCMA are forced to think critically and practically about what materials would make for the best rockets, as their decisions about design and material need to be well thought-out in a way that their wealthier rivals' decisions don't. Furthermore, tracking down materials trains the boys to be gifted problem-solvers. When launching rockets, they apply the same resourcefulness they've acquired while tracking down what they need.

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Reverend “Little” Richard Character Timeline in Rocket Boys

The timeline below shows where the character Reverend “Little” Richard 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
...between the state highway and the path to the mine. Homer recalls his friend the Reverend “Little” Richard , who presides over a small, non-company church. The Reverend would amuse Homer with his... (full context)
Chapter 8: Construction of the Cape
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
...lumber and tin. Another worker, Mr. Leon Ferro, reports that there is no leftover tin— Reverend Richard took all of the tin to repair his roof. (full context)
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
Homer and his friends go to visit Reverend Richard . They talk to him and find a way to get the tin he has:... (full context)
Chapter 10: Miss Riley (Auks IX-XI)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
...message, he insists, can be found in the Bible. Dissatisfied, Homer goes to talk to Reverend Richard . Richard is similarly reluctant to include mathematics in “God’s plan.” Nevertheless, he acknowledges that... (full context)
Chapter 21: Zincoshine: Auks XXII, A, B, C, and D
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
...the fall, and the BCMA proceeds with its rocketry. As Homer works, he visits the Reverend Richard , who tells Homer that he had a dream in which Homer walked on the... (full context)
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Parents and Children Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
...Dubonnet to declare a strike. Mr. Dubonnet doesn’t do so, and the property sale proceeds. Reverend Richard manages to pay for his church, but Reverend Lanier loses his job—because he works for... (full context)