Homer Hickman's Heroic Journey, Conflicts and Obstacles. Paper Example

Published: 2022-12-30
Homer Hickman's Heroic Journey, Conflicts and Obstacles. Paper Example
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Goal Engineering Personal experience Personal leadership
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1829 words
16 min read

Human beings have dreams that are aimed at transforming their lives in a certain way and they strive each day to meet them. Homer Hickman is not an exception, he dreamt of becoming a rocket engineer while he was still young; he realized this aspiration after he saw the Russian sending a satellite to the moon. Seeing satellites in the open night sky motivated him and his interest in rockets grew; he decided that he was going to learn everything about satellites and rockets. Hickam got filled by the desire to see his dream come true that he even went to and joined a group known as The Rocket Boys who were launching rockets through the night sky. Hickman's journey to realization of his dreams was full of conflicts and obstacles. Some of the most noticeable conflicts included person versus society, person to person and family dispute. The obstacles included the location of his home town Coalwood, the lack of necessary rocketry knowledge and lack of the much needed support from his dad. Therefore, Hickman's heroic journey came to pass after he defeated the various conflicts and obstacles.

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Heroic Journey

Homer Hadley Hickam Jr. was born on February 19, 1943 as the second son to Homer Hickam and Elsie Hickam, and got raised in Coal wood, West Virginia (Hickam, The Coalwood way 32). He graduated from Big Creek High School in 1960. His dad, Homer Sr. wanted him to become a coal miner like himself, but he had other plans and dreams for his future. Against all the odds, Homer Hickam graduated from Virginia Polytechnic Institute in 1964 with a BS degree in Industrial Engineering (Hickam, The Coalwood way 33). Between 1967 and 1968, he served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam as the first Lieutenant in the fourth infantry division; his six years in service were a good experience to him before quitting activity duty and later leaving the service as a captain. In 1969 he started writing after he returning from Vietnam, at first most of his works was about scuba diving. "Homer stopped writing scuba diving because of the many wrecks he was involved and started writing about the battle against U-boats along the American east coast during the second world war" (Hickam, Torpedo Junction 6). Later, he became an author, and in 1998, Delacorte Press published Hickam's second book, Rocket Boys: A Memoir, the story of his life in the little town of Coal wood, "West Virginia".

Homer Jr., can be portrayed as a hero because of the many qualities he possesses. He is multi-talented, determined, and perseverant. Homer is be characterized as being multi-talented by the diverse areas he ventured into from being in the army where he received an "Army Commendation Medal and Bronze Star" aerospace engineer, publisher and author, SCUBA diver and instructor, an amateur paleontologist working alongside Dr. Jack Horner (Hickam, The Rocket boys 24). When working at NASA as an engineer Homer was involved in a lot despite the engineering part of his job that mostly involved spacecraft and rockets design, he worked with various astronauts training them and offering guidance in multiple capacities.

Homer being determined and perseverant is demonstrated by his willingness to go to school and earn a college degree even when all things seem to be against his dream of being an aerospace engineer (Knost and Homer 14). He took it upon himself to see that he achieved his dreams despite the lack of support from his loved ones, friends and those people who understood his difficulties. Being able to fulfill his dreams against all odds took inner strength and mental ability that can only be attributed to a hero according to my understanding, most of us will give up when the odds seem to be too big and forget it takes courage, persistence, dedication and inner motivation to be able to achieve what we set out to do, the same qualities can also be seen when he served in the army as his determination to overcome various challenges grew and he managed to rise above them.


As he was growing, Homer Hickam Jr. decided that he will set a different path for his future. This path was contrary to what the society had expected of him. This way, he created a person versus society conflict. This conflict exists in situations whereby an individual does things that are against the expectations of society. These deeds can be of positive impact or otherwise. Coalwood is a coal mining town, and the society depended on coal mining for their daily bread. Given that the highest percentage of the people in that locality were coal miners, the society, inclusive of Homer's father, expected that he will end up in the mines. It was the norm that everyone would eventually end up working in the mines but when Homer Hickam went against the status-quo. He picked a fight with the town's tradition which meant he would be opposed by its members in various ways. Homer and his group, the Rocket boys, were taunted by the town's people calling their dreams as pointless and potentially dangerous (Hickam, The Rocket boys 29). It took inner strength and the spirit of never giving up seeing that Rocket boys made true their word by putting up a rocket.

Another category of conflict that was evident in Homer's lifestyle was the person to person. This conflict arose between his dad and him. Homer's brother who was a football player got support from his father to pursue football, but Homer was denied the chance to pursue his dreams. Instead, his father wanted Homer to go and work in the mines like him (Hickam, October sky 39). This was a letdown from his parents whom he hoped that will lift him and support his ideas. This lack of support from his father created the first instance of disagreement between them. This aspect only left Homer with the mentality that he was going to achieve his dreams on his own; that is, without the support of his father. To overcome that situation, Homer gained determination and strength to maintain his path to finally reach his goals in life.

The conflict and drift between Homer's parents was a significant drift in his life (Hickam October sky 76). His mother Elsie Lavender Hickman despises the life around coal mining to the extent that he encourages her son to pursue his dreams outside coal mining. To pursue a life that was outside Coalwood and its mining activities at that point was insignificant to the Homer Sr. and this aspect brought about the conflict between Homer's father and mother. The fact that Homer Sr. loved the mines to the extent of wanting his younger son to join them was a disappointment to her wife. The conflict between Homer's parents majorly revolved around the mines and the kind of life they thought each of their kids deserves. for the mother, she is portrayed as someone who believes that one deserves to dream and live a life of his or her choice, probably a life that did not revolve around the coal mines. Contrary, the father is portrayed as someone who sees the coal mines as their tradition and everyone within the Coalwood town should eventually get employed with the mines. He also thought that his son will fall into the same lifestyle and career.


Obstacles are inevitable in life and Homer Jr. was not an exception. Everyone and everything that set out to do something different in life is likely to face obstacles as they descend towards their goals (Unger et al., 112). For Homer, it wasn't any different, for whatever he set out to achieve he faced challenges but he managed to overcome and finally reach his goals. According to Homer's memoir, it is possible to say that the first obstacle that Homer faced was the location, town and the environment he lived in (Hickam, Rocket boys 14). Coalwood town is that full time involve in coal mining, and this created the first challenge he had to face being that he wanted a life that did not have anything to do with mining, the society usually tend to reject anything that goes against the norm and tradition and being that Coalwood citizens including the priests got involved in mining one had to overcome a lot to be different, especially the taunting and passive nature of the town's people toward their dreams.

Another challenge came as the lack of essential reading materials, equipment, and knowledge of rocketry. It is rocket science, and that means one would require scientific and mathematical concepts to grasp what they were doing. Homer didn't have the necessary knowledge even books to fully understand what rocket science was all about, and he applied basic mathematical and scientific concepts when they were initially designing and building their rockets with his group of Rocket boys (Mitcham 29).

During the entire adventure of Homer Jr., his father Homer Sr. did not play an active support role in enabling his child to attain his dreams (Knost and Homer 14). The lack of support from his father and his family especially the brothers who kept mocking his ambition didn't make it easy for Homer. Family and parents are the first support anyone deserves to have when they set out to do something which was not the case. All Homer had was himself, his teacher Frieda Riley and his mother who both encouraged him not to stop pursuing whatever he wanted.

Homer illustrates all of the tension, most of it involving the family from his parents, his brother, and these tensions affected Homer forming some of the obstacles he faced as he was growing up and working on his rocket project (Murdin 16). Homer Hickam Jr., like any other great hero, faced challenges and obstacles but due to his dedication, discipline, perseverance and above believing in himself was able to rise and stand as a hero who not only achieved his dreams but made use of all the abilities he had.

Works Cited

Hickam, Homer H. Rocket boys: A Memoir. Random House Digital, Inc., 2000.

Hickam, Homer H. October sky. Dell, 1999.Accessed on 5.2.2019


Hickam, Homer H. The Coalwood way. Vol. 2. Island Books, 2001. Print.

Hickam Jr, Homer. Torpedo Junction: U-boat War Off America's East Coast, 1942. Naval Institute Press, 2014.

Knost, Michael, and Homer Hickman. Legends of the Mountain State 3: More Ghostly Tales from the State of West Virginia. Chapmanville, W. Va: Woodland Press, Inc, 2009. Print.

Mitcham, Carl. "Dasein versus design: The problematics of turning making into thinking." International Journal of Technology and Design Education 11.1 (2001): 27-36. Accessed on 5.2.2019 https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Carl_Mitcham/publication/226489358_Dasein_Versus_Design_The_Problematics_of_Turning_Making_Into_Thinking/links/5a70b7930f7e9ba2e1cb06fa/Dasein-Versus-Design-The-Problematics-of-Turning-Making-Into-Thinking.pdf

Murdin, Paul. Rock Legends: The Asteroids and Their Discoverers. Cham: Springer International Publishing, 2016. Print.

Unger, Leonard, A W. Litz, Molly Weigel, Lea Bechler, and Jay Parini. American Writers: A Collection of Literary Biographies. New York: Scribner, 1974. Print.

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