The rocket symbolizes Harry Bittering’s determination to return to Earth and, more broadly, the settlers’ former lives there. Harry, who is particularly disturbed by the severing of ties to Earth after the nuclear war on the planet, is particularly attached to the idea of building a new rocket that will return them to Earth. The presence of daily rockets before the war had been a great comfort: “As long as the rockets had spun a silver web across space, he had been able to accept Mars. For he had always told himself: Tomorrow, if I want, I can buy a ticket and go back to Earth.” Harry begins to construct a rocket of his own, even as this plan is gently mocked by his friends and viewed with concern by his family. Gradually, however, “In the flow of days and weeks, the rocket receded and dwindled. The old fever was gone.” Eventually, Harry’s abandonment of the rocket comes to symbolize his abandonment of the dream of ever getting back to Earth. When he leaves the “flimsy rocket frame rusting in an empty shop,” he leaves behind him the final vestiges of a connection to Earth, and instead accepts that he is becoming, however strangely and gradually, a Martian.
The timeline below shows where the symbol Rocket appears in Dark They Were, and Golden Eyed. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Dark They Were, and Golden-Eyed
...to drop. The paper he receives from Earth each morning, still “toast-warm” from the arriving rocket, is one of his few consolations. It represents a reassuring tie to the world of... (full context)
...malevolent, constantly shifting and changing planet. Harry, in a panic, suggests that they build a rocket to return to Earth, but they reject this idea. The other settlers have already accepted... (full context)