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Analysis of October Sky

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Essay title: Analysis of October Sky

Living Above Ground

The inspirational true story of Homer Hickam in October Sky reminds us all to strive for our goals and never give up, even in the face of adversity. However, Homer was fighting for a great deal in his pursuit of rocketry, he was even fighting for his life. Born in a coal mining town, son of a foreman, Homer seemed destined to work the mine when he grew up. But in October Sky, Homer has to overcome what the mine represents: isolation and death.

The life of a coal miner is often isolated from several things that most people would take for granted. Due to the demand of coal, towns are set up wherever the mines are opened. In the case of the movie, the main setting was in the remote town of Coalwood, West Virginia. It is a typical 1950's small town where all the residents know each other and everyone knows the private lives of each other. The coal company owns the land surrounding the town, for at least eight miles in every direction. When the protagonist, Homer Hickam, attends the National Science Fair in Indianapolis, Indiana, the fellow rocket boys, Quentin Wilson, Roy Lee Cook and Sherman O'Dell all tell him to enjoy the outside world. The only other major places mentioned in the movie are Welsh, a nearby town and rival in high school sports, and Snake Root, the location of the boy's testing ground. Not only is the town isolated geographically, but the miners are isolated from the rest of the residents. Every time they go to work, they are cut off from anything on the surface. One way that is shown is through the use of the elevator which is very similar to a jail cell, another form of isolation.

Mining coal also isolates many of the characters from each other. Homer's father, the main antagonist, John, often seems removed from his own family because of accidents or emergencies in the mine that require his attention. Homer's mother, Elsie, even threatens to leave him if he does not become more interested in their son's hobby of rocketry. When John is injured in an accident in the mine and the family will not have enough money to survive, Homer decides to provide for the family by dropping out of high school and becoming a miner. This provides an interesting dynamic and internal conflict in Homer. He is overcoming the isolation from his father by mining, and John even considers him a man since he has done hard work in the mine. However, he also becomes isolated from his friends that he has spent so much time with recently. He is relegated to spending lunch breaks catching up with the other members of the rocket boys.

While being separated

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