October Sky

November 3, 2008
By Blake Bullis, Kingsport, TN

Have you ever read a book and later watch the movie version only to find out that they are completely different? In Homer Hickam's book October Sky and the film adaptation by Joe Johnstun, the main character Sonny Hickam is portrayed differently. His physical characteristics, personal goals, motivation, and his family are just a few changes between the book and movie. One major contrast is Sonny and his father's relationship as it coincides with the coal mines.

The book goes more into detail about the character's emotions, dreams, and goals than does the movie. For example, the book's in-depth perception of Sonny's dream to work at Cape Canaveral. His dream is realized when he is offered a job as an engineer. However, in the movie Sonny's dream is crushed when he is basically forced to work in the coal mines.

In the book, Sonny explores several ways to achieve his goals mainly through persistance and determination. Sonny is never given a chance to pursue his dream as he loses interest in rockets because he settles for working in the coal mine. In an ironic twist, Sonny's mother is more supportive of his dream in the book. However, in the movie, his mother ignores his dream by remaining non-objective to his decision to enter the coal mines. You recoinize this by her passive body language in the movie verses her verbal disatisfaction in the book.

One final comparison between the book and the movie is Sonny's physical appearance. The book portrays Sonny as a very clean-cut, well dressed idividual, and somewhat as a book worm or nerdy-type. In the movie Sonny's attire is more relaxed, loose, yet preppy. He does not wear glasses in the movie and his personality is more outgoing. This dramatically increases his popularity in the movie compared to more of a loner in the book.

In conclusion, October Sky, whether reading the book or watching the movie at home, the plot basically focuses on family truimps and overcoming overwhelming odds. However, there are countless differences between Hickam's and Johnstun's portrayal of Sonny and his family. Truely the book challenges the reader to use his or her imagination. Meanwhile, the movie version is inclined to appeal to our Hollywood perception, thus adding to or taking away from the book. The book is considered the most intriuging in many editorial circles.

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