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1. What years is this novel set? 1950's What truths did Homer Hickam (Sonny) learn when he began building rockets?


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Rocket Boys by Homer Hickam
You are responsible for answering each question on a separate piece of paper. You are to have your questions and answers in class every day!!
Chapter 1 Questions Pages 1-16
1. What years is this novel set? 1950's

2. What truths did Homer Hickam (Sonny) learn when he began building rockets? He learned that his hometown was at war with itself over its children and that his parents were locked in a bloodless combat over his brother and he would live their lives. He learned that when a girl broke your heart, another girl could mend it on the same night. He learned about how rockets worked.

3. What is the tipple? The tipple is the structure for lifting, sorting, and dumping the coal. The tipple is also where the men enter and exit the mine.

4. Who owned the Hickam's house? Why is this important? The company owns everything in Coalwood. You had to work for the company in order to live in Coalwood.

5. Who is Reverend "Little" Richard? What does he tell Sonny about the Lord? Why is this important? He is a Reverend who resembles Richard Little. Sonny loves to listen to his bible stories, because Reverend Richard gets so excited about the Lord. Richard says that the Lord takes care of fools and drunks, so he’ll take care of Sonny, too.

6. Who were Sonny's friends? Name them. His friends are Roy Lee, Sherman, O’Dell, and Tony

7. What happened to Tony and his family? Explain how Sonny feels about this. Is this the way you would have reacted? Tony’s dad was killed in a mining accident. They left town, and Sonny never heard from him again. Sonny was used to this happening.

8. Describe Mr. Carter's company philosophy. How is it different from other coal companies? Mr. Carter believed that if you give men a decent life; they’ll work a decent day’s work. The people were given a house to live in, a doctor, a dentist, and a store to buy anything they could possibly imagine. Their house note was taken out of their paycheck before they received it.

9. Who is the Captain? What does he do? The Captain is a Stanford graduate who expanded the company. He brought the latest technology into Coalwood.

10. Who does the captain take as his protégé? Why? Homer becomes his protégé, because he was dedicated and was a company man.

11. Explain the story of Homer and Elsie's marriage. Do you think that they love each other? Why? Elsie and Homer went to Gary high together, but Elsie moved to Florida. The Captain wrote to Elsie, because Homer loved her. Elsie came to Coalwood to visit. Once again, Homer asked Elsie to marry him. She said she would, but only if he had a Brown Mule tobacco wrapper in his pocket. He did, so they got married.

12. What happened to Poppy in 1943? How does Sonny react? Poppy is Homer’s dad. Poppy got his legs cut off in a mining accident. This scared Sonny, because Poppy wanted to hold him on his lap, but he didn’t have a lap. Sonny was about two or three years old when he tells you about this.

13. What do you know about Homer's personality already at this point? List and explain as many characteristics as possible. Homer is a diligent, hard working, company man. He is dedicated to the company, not his family.

14. Describe the Hickam's family life. They live a simple life, but it is better than others lives in Coalwood.

15. What do the "grown-up' boys in Coalwood do after graduation? How would you feel about this if you lived there? They join the military or work in the mine.

16. Describe Elsie and her vision of Sonny's future. Elsie wants Sonny to find a way to get out of Coalwood. She doesn’t want Sonny to work in the mine.
Chapter 2 Questions Pages 17-44
17. What are the two phases of Sonny’s life? Why does his life change then? Before October 5, 1957 and after October 5, 1957

18. What is Sputnik? How did affect Americans? Sputnik is the Russian satellite. Americans were upset because Russia was ahead of the Americans in space.

19. Describe the relationship between Jim and Sonny. Sonny and Jim fight all the time. Jim calls Sonny a sister, because Sonny is in the band. They are always arguing or putting each other down.

20. How do other miners’ kids treat Sonny? How does this affect him? The miners’ kids beat Sonny up because of Homer. Sonny just deals with the ill treatment.

21. What subject in school does Sonny have trouble with? Math- Algebra

22. Who helped Sonny see himself outside of Coalwood? Werner von Braun (a German scientist that Sonny admires)

23. Describe Sonny’s reaction to Sputnik. Sonny is amazed. He watches it fly over Coalwood. He decides he is going to build a rocket.

24. Describe the boys’ first rocket experience. What did they use? Where were they? What did they learn? They use powder from cherry bombs as their fuel. A plastic flashlight is the body of the rocket. They use one of the cherry bomb fuses as their fuse. They light the rocket on top of the fence. They see something in the air, but it isn’t their rocket. It was Elsie’s rose garden fence. They learned that they needed to find out how to build a rocket before attempting this again.
Chapter 3 Questions Pages 45-54
25. After the first rocket was built, what is Homer (the father) concerned with? Homer doesn’t want to be embarrassed in front of the entire town.

26. Describe how Sonny’s mother deals with him after the rocket explosion. What does this say about her personality? She laughs. She doesn’t get angry over accidents. Elsie asks Sonny if he can build a rocket. She explains that this might be his only way out of the mine.

27. What does Elsie think is going to happen to Coalwood? She thinks that Coalwood is going to die.

28. What is wrong with Homer at the end of this chapter? What do you think is going to happen? Homer has a horrible cough. It is worsening.
Chapter 4 Questions Pages 55-70
29. Describe how Homer treats Jim. How does Sonny feel about this? How would you feel in the same situation? How would you react if you were Sonny? Homer is interested in Jim because he plays football. He is involved in Jim’s life. Homer ignores Sonny which upsets him, but there is nothing he can do to change it. Sonny wants Homer’s attention, but he only seems to get negative attention.

30. Who is Pooky Suggs? How does he treat Sonny? Pooky Sugg’s father was killed in the mine. Pooky dropped out of the 6th grade to work in the mine. Pooky blames Homer for killing his daddy, and Pooky always wants to beat Sonny up.

31. What happens to the football team? What does Homer do about it? They are not allowed to play in the State Championship, because they didn’t play enough Virginia teams. Homer goes to Welch and files a lawsuit.

32. What happens to the case? The case was thrown out of court. Homer appeals it on behalf of the Football Fathers Association. Homer is the President.

33. Who is John Dubonnet? What is his job in Coalwood? John is an old classmate who once dated Elsie. John Dubonnet is the union leader. Homer and Dubonnet always butt heads.

34. What happens during a recession in Coalwood? The mine is forced to lay-off employees.

35. What is Vanguard and what happens to it? Vanguard is the United States attempt to launch a satellite. It blows up.

36. What does Sonny decide to do about his rocket? Sonny decides to talk to Quentin to see if he knows anything about rockets.
Chapter 5 Questions Pages 71-87
37. Describe Quentin. Quentin is the most intelligent boy at Big Creek High. He seems to know everything. He doesn’t have any friends, but isn’t bothered by it.

38. Why does Sonny go talk to Quentin? He wants help with his rockets.

39. What is the deal that they work out? How does Sonny feel about it? Quentin wants to be part of the group. Sonny isn’t excited about it, but knows he needs Quentin’s help.

40. Who is Dorothy Plunk? What does she offer Sonny instead of a date? Dorothy is the girl that Sonny loves. She offers a study session rather than a date.

41. What is the Big Store? What does it carry? The Big Store id the company owned store. It carries everything you could possibly imagine.

42. Is Sonny successful in obtaining the rocket materials? Where does he find them? Yes, he is successful. He finds the items at the Big Store.

43. Explain how Sonny and Quentin test their "black powder" mixtures. They throw spoonful after spoonful into the grate of the hot water heater to see what the powders do.
44. Explain Quentin's logic about making mistakes. Pg 83 Quentin believes that fail or succeed, they would know where they went wrong.

45. How did the first rockets work out? Explain what happened to each of the mixtures. The first rocket fell over and emitted yellowish smoke. It was too weak. The second rocket blew up after melting the glue on the fins. It was too strong.
Chapter 6 Questions Pages 88-111
46. What is the Explorer-1? This is the United States’ satellite launched by Dr. Werner von Braun’s team.

47. Who is Daisy Mae, and what is she to Sonny? She is Sonny’s calico cat. She is his friend and confidant.

48. What is the BCMA and what is it named after? Big Creek Missile Agency is named after Werner von Braun’s ABMA-Army Ballistic Missile Agency.

49. Who sticks up for Quentin and Sonny when Mr. Turner is disciplining them? Describe what you know about her already. Miss Riley sticks up for the boys. She used to attend Big Creek High School.

50. What is Sonny's relationship with Dorothy at this point? How would he like it to change? They are friends. He would like her to be his girlfriend.

51. Who is Emily Sue? What is her opinion of how Dorothy treats Sonny? Emily Sue is Dorothy’s best friend. She tells Dorothy to be nice to Sonny because he is a nice boy. Emily Sue doesn’t think Dorothy is very nice to boys.

52. On pages 98-99, what change do Quentin and Sonny make to their rocket fuel? The boys add powdered glue to the rocket fuel.

53. What does Mr. Bykovski do for the rocket boys? Mr. Bykovski welds the washer to the tubing on their rockets.

54. What is the name of the new, improved rocket? Why is name significant? Auk is the name of the new rocket. An auk is a bird that doesn't fly. Sonny wants to show that his rockets don't fly, but they will soon.

55. What happens to this rocket when it is launched? The rocket leaps up 6 feet and then falls.

56. Describe Mr. Bykovski's character. He is a good, honest man. He loves Sonny and wants to help him.

57. After Auks III and IV, what does Quentin believe needs to be changed before the next one is launched? Quentin thinks that they need to figure out a way to make the rockets fly straight before they launch any more rockets.

58. What happened to Auk IV? What happened to Sonny because of it? It flew toward the mine. Homer throws all of Sonny’s equipment into the creek. He tells Sonny no more rockets!


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