The October Sky revolves around the dream of Hickam Jr. who wants to be a rocket scientist, aces many challenges and obstacles that he has to overcome to make his dream come true. The major obstacle is his father and the town people who want him to work in the coalmine because they believes that working in the mine is a reputable job and wants his son to follow his footsteps. The characters and behaviors of the four friends help the hero to make his dreams come true. Some of the outstanding characteristics of the main characters in this case Hickam Jr. are hope, courage , teamwork , and most important is the inspiration of a caring teacher.
The young boy, living in an isolated town, has to face many challenges stemming from the family and town at large. His father is his major obstacle and he does not have time for his family or his son. He is so busy with his work as a supervisor at the mine and spends most of his time visiting miners who survived accidents. The family does not have a close-knit relationship and Hickam Jr. is afraid of his father, though he loves his mother who keeps inspiring him. His father is not supportive and resents Hickam Jr.s’ admiration for scientist Werner von Braun. His father does not believe in his son and he even says, “Sonny built a rocket? He does not even know how to put sprocket chain back on the bike when it slips off,’’ showing how little he knew his son. The other obstacle that Hickam Jr. has to face is isolation of the mining town that excludes young men and their parents as evident in relationship between father and son. The citizens of the town are also isolated and do not believe that Hickam Jr. had potential of becoming a rocket scientist. This is evident in the movie when his father tells him "Rocket scientists don’t come from mining towns." He has to overcome isolation and death represented by the mine, as he had seen so many accidents and deaths of the miners. Additionally, there was no good scientific base for Hickam to find some new knowledge resources and make his dream come true. He was also poor in math, one of the core subjects needed to become a successful scientist. The miners do not believe in their own children as having the abilities to achieve great things and this hinders the efforts of Hickam Jr. though he never gives up.
The characteristics, behaviors and attitudes dominant in the movie are mainly seen in young Hickam Jr. who has to be strong to overcome the never-ending challenges. The first character he portrays is hope and believes in his abilities. He never gives up on his dream of becoming a rocket scientist even when he has no one to support him except his mother and his teacher. His first attempt to gain a scholarship to college happens when he tries to join school football team, which would be a stepping-stone in getting a scholarship. He does not give up when he fails and goes on experimenting in science and rocketry. He wins the national fair and there he meets other rocket boys who come together and conjointly make their dreams come true. He does not give up hoping that one day his father believes in him and gives him love and support. He finally gets this when his father changes his perspective on his dream after seeing homemade missiles being sent off from their home ground. Hickam Jr. and his friends do everything in their power convince his parents and people of the isolated mining town that their dreams of leaving the town and becoming successful rocket scientists was something they could achieve. Hickam Jr. has to leave the mining town. He needs to be hopeful in order to prove to his father and the miners that his dream was achievable. He launches rockets in the village and even travels with his friends to isolated fields to put experiments on their rockets proving with this that the dream of being a scientist was achievable from any part of the country. This behavior made him a better person who could think innovatively when facing a difficult situation. In this way, his self-affirmation grows and the boy proves again that everyone should put all the efforts and strive to achieve his or her goal. Despite the discouragements he gets from his father and the other people in the mine who never believed in his abilities to achieve his dreams the boy still continues to pursue his dream. He builds in himself a unique personality and identity due to the challenges he goes through, as he tries to make everyone believe in him.
Hickam Jr. and his friends courageously cope with challenges and obstacles put by their own parents and citizens of the town. He is brave enough to face his father and overcome bitterness inside him after being through accident while working in the mine. His courage shapes his identity and he has to endure many challenges. The death of Mr. Bykovski is a hard blow on his dream; illness of Miss Riley who was his mentor and supporter made him develop a strong, brave character. His friends, especially Roy Lee, who played a role of his guide was there to remind the protagonist not to let his desires control him. His friends’ death had a bad influence on his dream coming true, but his will to achieve his lifelong aim drove him to continue working towards gaining it. The cancer his teacher is suffering from teaches him that no one can have control over everything and the only way to overcome some things and achieve one’s goals is through courage. Without courage, he would have faced all the hurdles life threw at him, but it is evident that courage comes from encouragements he gets from his friends and those who believed in him.
Teamwork is an outstanding character that helps the ‘Rocket Boys’ achieve their dreams. Hickam Jr. meets Roy Lee, Sherman, O'Dell, Quentin, and Billy at the science fair and they from a strong friendship where they work together as a team, going through the challenges together and encouraging each other. The BCMA (Big Creek Missile Agency) was a measure of how teamwork enables one to make his dreams come true. Hickam never made a rocket leave the ground, but with the help of his friends all together make it happen. On the other hand, Hickam Jr. lacks support from his father and other people in the town think that he is crazy for having a big dream, but he faces the challenges that happen on his way with trust and support he has from the few people who believe in him. He meets with his BCMA friends and, finally, together they send off the first missile from the coalmine town. All in all, Hickam is an excellent example of a person who achieved his dream using perseverance and willpower. He is able to achieve his dreams because he does not give up easily and prove all those who were against him wrong.