Symbolism is a major part of works of literature throughout history and continues to be uses by authors to make their point today. This tactic, which is one of the most effective forms of mood creation and setting, is exactly what made the movie October Sky a good example of this. The director of this film, Joe Johnson, cleverly used two inanimate objects and created two important characters in the movie, in this case the symbolism used is the rocket compared to the coal mine(2).
This is the classic story of a young man who against all odds triumphs in the end when he accomplishes what he set out to do. In this case the young man, whose name is Homer Hickam, has a dream to build rockets instead of going to work in the coal mine with his father. This seemed to be the predestined fate of all the young men in town who do not get football scholarships. Homer did not accept this fate and was determined to make something of himself. His main adversary was not a person, but was a thing. The old Coalwood coalmine was his foe. It was like a black hole, which our science has only recently proved to exist, that seemed to trap everyone in its gravity offering little hope for escape. The mine gave life to the town, but ironically it also took it away. The coal boom of the early 20th century had created many new towns in the Appalachian Mountains, and it was the lifeblood of that region for many years(3). Unfortunately, coal mining was one of the most dangerous jobs around, and many were injured and killed as a direct result. Countless others died years later from coal dust inhalation(3). At this point in history many of the mines were closing and the economy of many towns like Coalwood were in jeopardy. .
Homer realized that he wanted something else but didn't know what it was until he saw Sputnik blast across the evening sky for the first time. This got him thinking about the world outside of what he had known before.