Essay on American Heros in Tom Wolfe's The Right Stuff

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American Heros in Tom Wolfe's The Right Stuff

Tom Wolfe's The Right Stuff depicts the lives of some of America's hottest pilots and its first astronauts. These men include Pete Conrad, Chuck Yeager, John Glenn, Gus Grissom, Wally Shirra, Alan Shepard, Gordon Cooper, Scott Carpenter and Deke Sleyton. Some of these men were hotshot test pilots at Edwards Air Force Base, and some flew cargo planes. Some had impeccable service records, while others hadn't flown in a real dog fight for even a second. Despite these differences in backgrounds and credentials, Tom Wolfe turns each of these nine men into a separate and individualized hero.

Chuck Yeager and John Glenn are probably the most memorable of the nine pilots in The Right Stuff.
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This anecdote occurs at the beginning of the chapter that introduces Chuck Yeager. The placement of this story is important because the reader is made aware of Yeager's influence before he knows who Yeager really is.

Wolfe also uses an anecdote to set John Glenn apart form the rest of the pilots. Wolfe describes Glenn's personal exercise by saying," He'd be out there in full view, on the circular driveway of the Bachelor Officers Quarters, togged out in his sweat suit, his great freckled face flaming red...there was no end to it, in front of everybody" (110). Glenn's activities were definitely unusual. The astronauts of the Mercury Project were required to do four hours of exercise per week. John Glenn far exceeded these guidelines. But according to Wolfe, most fighter pilots, at least those who have the right stuff, put exercise very low on their list of priorities. This is an important point because Glenn wasn't a typical fighter jock. It was very obvious to the other pilots that he was very different.

Another way that Wolfe develops each astronaut into a hero is by revealing details about his personality through his words. For example, Chuck Yeager is asked about how he feels about being left out of the Mercury Project. Inflating his own ego, Yeager mentions his own

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