The Rocket Man (Bradbury)

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The Rocket Man
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A boy's father, a space traveler, struggled to balance his love for his family and his irresistible pull towards space. After promising to stay home permanently, he died when his ship fell into the sun.

A mother and her son lived in a small town where space rockets never came.

The Mother — narrator's mother; a woman who coped with her husband's absences by treating him as if he were dead when he was away; loving, resilient.

The father was a Rocket Man, who would often be away for months at a time, traveling to distant planets.

The Father — narrator's father; a space traveler who struggled to balance his love for his family and his irresistible pull towards space; adventurous, conflicted.

The mother and son would wait for his return, often feeling the impact of his rocket passing over their house. The father would return home for brief periods, during which he would immerse himself in earthly activities, like gardening and spending time with his family.

However, the mother struggled with his absences and tried to convince herself that he was dead to cope with the pain.

“When he went off into space ten years ago, I said to myself, ‘He’s dead.’ Or as good as dead. So think of him dead.

The son, on the other hand, was fascinated by his father's adventures and often asked him about his experiences in space.

Doug — narrator; the son of the space traveler who admired his father and wanted to follow in his footsteps; curious, empathetic.

The father warned his son against following in his footsteps, explaining the dangers and loneliness of space travel.

“Don’t ever be a Rocket Man.” I stopped. “I mean it,” he said. “Because when you’re out there you want to be here, and when you’re here you want to be out there.

One day, the father promised that he would quit his job as a Rocket Man and stay home for good. However, the next day, they received a message that his ship had fallen into the sun. The mother and son were devastated. They began to live nocturnally, sleeping during the day and staying awake at night, to avoid the constant reminder of the father's death in the sun.