October Sky

by Homer Hickam

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What was Elsie's reaction to Homer's mine trip in October Sky?

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Elsie is irate upon finding that her husband has taken Homer into the mine, as they had known she would be. When Homer and his Dad come up out of the mine, Elsie is waiting there, "standing at the gate still in her church clothes." When she sees Homer's "grimy face...coal-mascaraed eyes, and...blackened coveralls," she bursts into tears. There are other miners around, and they look away in embarassment as Dad tries to shush Elsie. Homer tells his Mom "everything's fine," and Dad "doggedly" asserts, "he's thinking about being a mining engineer."

At these words, Elsie's tears "(seem) to dry up instantly," as she growls, "over my dead body." Dad sends Homer off to take a shower, and hisses at his wife, "What the devil's wrong with you?" Elsie snaps back at him, "This mine's killed you, but it's not going to kill my boys," and reminds him that he has a "black spot - about the size of a dime" on one of his lungs which will someday cause his death. Dad arrogantly tosses a handful of coal dust into the air and breathes it in, declaring, "I thrive on this stuff." In response, Elsie turns and marches into the bathhouse to fetch Homer; she grabs him, and tells him he can finish washing at home (Chapter 11).

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