Rocket Boys: Relationship between Sonny and Homer

Posted on July 25, 2011 in Rocket Boys (done) by madahl14

The relationship between Sonny and his father is one of the more interesting interactions in the memoir Rocket Boys. Their relationship changes more than any other two character’s relationships in the book.

At first, Homer completely opposes the rocket building. For example, when Sonny’s father first learns that Sonny is going to try to build a rocket, he says that Sonny “doesn’t even know how to put the sprocket chain back on his bike when it slips off” (40). This clearly shows how Homer doesn’t believe Sonny can do anything as difficult as building a rocket, and marks the beginning of Sonny and Homer’s dispute over the rockets.

Additionally, Homer never goes to see Sonny’s rocket launches. When Sonny asks his father to come and see them, he replies, “Well, maybe when I have time-“ (228). This causes Sonny to blurt out “You always have time for Jim” (228). Even though Homer always goes to Sonny’s brother Jim’s football games, he makes excuses to miss Sonny’s rocket launches.  The launches are very important to Sonny, and his father’s lack of interest in them causes some animosity.

Later in the memoir, Homer shows some uncharacteristic support of the Rocket Boys. For example, he shows Sonny Cape Coalwood, where Sonny can fire rockets while “nobody in the town can see or hear you” (107). This is a surprising gesture based on Homer’s previous attitude concerning the rockets. Also, it helps lead up to the last scene of the book, when Homer finally comes to see the rockets launched, and Sonny says “There was no mistaking the pure delight I saw spread across his face” (361). This resolves the dispute between Sonny and his father, and ends the memoir on a happy note.

3 Responses to 'Rocket Boys: Relationship between Sonny and Homer'

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  1.   Wyatt Jones said,

    on July 28th, 2011 at 4:24 pm     

    The relationship between Sonny and his father is certainly one of the deepest parts in the novel. The author, Homer H. Hickam Jr., does a fantastic job illustrating his tense relationship with his father. Something that really surprised me is how badly Sonny’s mother wanted him to grow up differently then the way Homer had. In the story, Sonny visits Poppy, Homer’s dad, and Poppy goes on to say how Sonny’s just like Homer. Sonny’s mother immediately takes Sonny away in terror. She then says to Sonny and herself as she holds him, “‘No you’re not’” This bizarre action taken by his mother shows how much she wants to make sure Sonny grows up differently then Homer had. Later we find out why, when Homer takes Sonny to the mine one day without telling Sonny’s mother. When they come out of the mine they find Sonny’s mom crying and furious at Homer. She says, “This mine’s killed you, but it’s not going to kill my boys!” (Hickam 175) This showed how much she cared for Sonny. It also gives us a good image of what all the mothers of Coalwood have to go through when they realize they’re may be going in the mine for the rest of their lifes. Homer Hickam does a great job displaying these emotions between Sonny’s family.

  2.   smmcneil14 said,

    on July 28th, 2011 at 9:48 pm     

    I agree completely with you Wyatt. It seems as though the relationship between Sonny and his father would have remained static throughout the entire book had it not been for the intervention of others. Niether Sonny or Homer ever made any substantial reaches to change their relationship. There were others however that helped to improve the relationship. One of the first changes we see is at the Sunday Mass in which the Great Six convince the reverand to give a sermon concerning the relation ship between sons and fathers. He does an excelent job of presenting both sides. He began with “Today I will speak on the general topic of fathers and sons … A foolish son is the calamity of his father … but fathers help your sons to dream” (Hickman 105). This sermon seems to create a shift, although grudgingly, in the relationship between Sonny and Homer. As different events occure and different people come into and out of the story, we begin to see a shift in their relationship. When the new manager tries to stop the boys from setting off their rockets, Sonny’s father surprisingly came to the aide of the boys. “If you fale now, you can’t blame me. You’ll only have yourself to blame. Understood?” (288). With out having to appear weak or compromising his position, he starts to close the gap between him and Sonny. There starts to become more of an increasing cooperation between them and the relationship change is brought to an end with the last rocket lauch when Homer comes to see the launch. The relationship is finally at a balance and Sonny says, ” ‘You did really good Dad,’ I told him as a spasm of deep, oily coughs racked his body” (362). He and his father made peace and their relationship was whole.
    While neither party made much of an effort to improve their relationship, Sonny and Homer’s relationship improved by the people and events that acted as a catalyst to their weak relationship.

  3.   ddagnew14 said,

    on July 31st, 2011 at 4:57 pm     

    I completely with most of what your saying matt. The relationship between Sonny and Homer is one of the most in depth and undergoes huge change throughout the novel. The only part I cant completely agree with is that it undergoes more change than any other relationships. Although Sonny and Homer’s relationship does undergo great change, there are other relationships between characters in the book that undergo changes just as large. One great example is the relationship between Sonny and Dorothy. Throughout the first half of the novel, Sonny would do anything to get Dorothy, he had a huge crush on her. One place you can see this is on page 82, when Sonny is thinking about dorothy and then says, “I was in love with her.” But then towards the middle of the novel, when Sonny see’s Dorothy going out with his brother Jim, Sonny’s relationship with her changes overnight. Soon he can’t even stand being friends with her and just ignores her. On page 253, the day after Sonny see’s Dorothy and Jim going out, Dorothy tries talking to Sonny, but Sonny ignores her. Sonny thinks to himself, “I would have walked right over her.” Overnight, Their relationship changes from love and lust to hate, and their relationship remains hateful for the rest of the book. In my opinion, The relationship changes between Dorothy and Sonny definitely rival the relationship changes between Sonny and his father.

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