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Tom Wolfe - The Right Stuff

Tom Wolfe's novel The Right Stuff chronicles the rise of NASA's initial seven astronauts, including legendary figures like Alan Shepard and John Glenn. While the story of the rise of NASA as well, the novelist clearly means to reveal that these seven men had special qualities he labels the "right stuff." As Wolfe (17) says of this concept among the "all-enclosing fraternity" at NASA, "Herein the world was divided into those who had it and those who did not." While these men are brave and courageous, Wolfe's concept of the "right stuff" goes beyond these qualities. For those who join the "Brotherhood of the Right Stuff" are more than their peers, for they become the stuff of heroic legend (Wolfe 17). In this sense, the "right stuff" equates to the category of heroic.

There is no doubt that fearlessness is one quality that separates those with the right stuff from those without it. The NASA astronauts were willing and, in fact, thrilled to risk their lives in a hurtling piece of machinery every time they took flight. As Wolfe (17) maintains, the right stuff includes bravery and being willing to risk your life but with a fearlessness and skills not had in most men,

The idea here...seemed to be that a man should have the ability to go up in a hurtling piece of machinery and put his hide on the line and then have the moxie, the reflexes, to pull it back...and, ultimately, do so in a cause that means something to thousands, to a people, a nation, to humanity to God.

The "right stuff" also encompasses the specific difference of striving to be among the top human beings in existence. We see Wolfe (17) likens the having the right stuff to being able to ascend the ancient pyramids as one of the "elected" and "anointed" ones who, "God willing,...might be able to join that special few at the very top, that elite who had the capacity to bring tears to men's eyes." In this sense, we see that<...

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Tom Wolfe - The Right Stuff. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 21:20, June 26, 2019, from