October Sky

by Homer Hickam

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What was O'Dell's purpose in Welch in October Sky?

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When Homer and Emily Sue go to Welch to buy a suit for Homer to wear to the national science fair in Indianapolis, Homer decides he can pick out the suit himself, so he goes into a store called Philips and Cloony where he runs into O'Dell. O'Dell is in Welch on a ginseng-selling trip. Earlier on in the novel, the Rocket Boys discover a ton of ginseng growing in Coalwood, and they harvest the ginseng and sell it to earn money for their sinz-dust money. O'Dell has been in charge of selling it as it was originally his idea. He was the one that found out people would buy it to use for herbal medicines, etc. O'Dell helps Homer pick out a suit that is more appropriate - not an "old person's" suit.

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