Michael Joesph Manacci

Going as far back as the writings of the ancient Mesopotamians, the struggles between Father and son are well documented within literature. Having existed almost all of humanity’s existence, these struggles are one of the most human experiences that is universally relatable. Throughout the mythologies of the countless cultures of the earth, there are epics, fables and stories that have this form of conflict as its cornerstone. Nowhere is this form of conflict more prevalent and well portrayed than in the 1999 film, “October Sky.”

Set in the tiny little town of Coalwood, West Virginia, in the late 1950s, the families of Coalwood live an impoverished yet isolated life. Then suddenly, as if it is a visit by aliens from another world, their world perspectives and lives are forever changed by the Soviet satellite Sputnik-1 zooming across the clear autumn sky as a beacon of both optimism and fear for humanity. One teenager in Coalwood is inspired by viewing Sputnik’s passing, and a burning passion for space exploration is ignited within the very fibers of his being. His name? Homer Hickam.

The vast majority of young men in Coalwood go from high school to the hard labor of working in the coal mines. Their lives are pretty much laid out for them is a huge understatement. Given this, it should come as no surprise that Homer and his friends are ridiculed for their newfound passion. But perhaps their biggest antagonist is Homer’s own Father, John Hickam.

John Hickam is a man of his time and his trade. His entire life is the coal mine. He is a proud coal miner, just like his Father was and his Father before him. Hickam men didn’t go off and literally chase shooting stars. You don’t break tradition in Coalwood. John, wanting to do the best for Homer, tries to convince his son to go to the coal mines where there is job security and stability. But again, Homer pursues his dreams of going into space, causing intense conflict between him and his Father. Through sheer determination and ironclad willpower, Homer proves to his dad that he can live a separate life than his, yet still upholding the values that his Father taught him. 

John might have been tough on Homer and his dreams, but it wasn’t out of disdain for his son. It is quite the opposite in all actuality. John was tough on his son because he loved him and wanted what he felt was best for him. Very much in the same way that John never stopped loving his son is akin to how our heavenly Father never ceases to love us. The Bible tells us in 1 John 4 verses 16-19 that we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the saviour of the world. Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwells in him, and he in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness on the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us. 

Just as a father’s love for his children will never end, there is nothing you can do that will make your heavenly Father stop loving you. He created you in his image. You, dear reader, are a child of the kingdom. Nothing can ever change that.