October Sky

by Homer Hickam

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What did Mr. Bykovski reveal to Homer about Wernher von Braun in October Sky?

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Mr. Bykovski tells Homer that although Wernher von Braun "helped monsters, and for that he should be blamed," but he also points out that "there are concepts of forgiveness and redemption." In his humble way, he then reflects on "the way a man can change and how it is possible to forgive if not perhaps to forget." Mr. Bykovski tells Homer that he does not need his permission to admire the reknowned scientist "for what he has become."

Homer had been instructed by his father to ask Mr. Bykovski how he feels about Wernher von Braun. Von Braun had been an active and noted member of the Nazis during World War II, but after the war had come to the United States and become one of our nation's premiere rocket scientists. Since Mr. Bykovski is Jewish, Homer's father is aware that he most likely has very strong feelings against anyone associated with the Nazis; he wants his son to be aware of this possibility as well, and, out of respect for the loyal man who is helping Homer with his own rocket experiments, show sensitivity to how he might feel about the issue. Mr. Bykovski admits that it is "a hard thing," for which it would be helpful to be able to consult a rabbi, but in the absense of a holy leader in the area, he speaks from the heart. Mr. Bykovski tells Homer that he need not feel guilty for admiring Dr. von Braun for the work he is doing now in the field of rocket science (Chapter 12).

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