Hidden Figures


Margot Lee Shetterly

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John Glenn is an astronaut and the first American to orbit the Earth. Confident, charismatic and well-prepared for his role, he represents the American dream of spaceflight and technological prowess. He helps make Katherine Johnson famous among her peers after he chooses her to double-check the electronic computer’s calculations for his trajectory into and back from space.

John Glenn Quotes in Hidden Figures

The Hidden Figures quotes below are all either spoken by John Glenn or refer to John Glenn. 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:
Racism and Inequality Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the William Morrow Paperbacks edition of Hidden Figures published in 2016.
Chapter 21 Quotes

Many years later, Katherine Johnson would say it was just luck that of all the computers being sent to engineering groups, she was the one sent to the Flight Research Division to work with the core of the team staffed on an adventure that hadn’t yet been conceived. But simple luck is the random birthright of the hapless. When seasoned by the subtleties of accident, harmony, favor, wisdom, and inevitability, luck takes on the cast of serendipity. Serendipity happens when a well-trained mind looking for one thing encounters something else: the unexpected. It comes from being in a position to seize opportunity from the happy marriage of time, place, and chance. It was serendipity that called her in the countdown to John Glenn's flight.

Page Number: 220
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Hidden Figures LitChart as a printable PDF.
Hidden Figures PDF

John Glenn Character Timeline in Hidden Figures

The timeline below shows where the character John Glenn appears in Hidden Figures. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 21: Out of the Past, the Future
Scientific Progress vs. Social and Political Progress Theme Icon
In 1957, John Glenn is picked for MA-6, the orbital flight that will determine whether the space agency gets... (full context)
Luck, Persistent Action, and Hard Work  Theme Icon
Scientific Progress vs. Social and Political Progress Theme Icon
Astronauts resist computers because they are new. Glenn asks Katherine Johnson to double check the numbers that will send him into space. She... (full context)
Community  Theme Icon
Luck, Persistent Action, and Hard Work  Theme Icon
Scientific Progress vs. Social and Political Progress Theme Icon
...human spaceflight, but black engineers throughout the organization contribute to each mission. Everyone follows John Glenn’s trajectory into space with bated breath. Glenn lands safely back on Earth. Katherine and the... (full context)