John Glenn: Prophet, Poet, or Astronaut?
Claire Dunnington '05, English 156 (Victorians and Moderns), Brown University, Spring 2004
In his book
"I am a Presbyterian," he says, "a Protestant Presbyterian, and I take my religion very seriously, as a matter of fact." He starts to tell them about all the Sunday schools he has taught at and the church boards he has served on and all the church work that he and his wife and children have done. "I was brought up believing that you are placed on earth here more or less with sort of a fifty-fifty proposition, and this is what I still believe. We are placed here with certain talents and capabilities. It is up to each of us to use those talents and capabilities as best you can. If you do that, I think there is a power greater than any of us that will place the opportunities in our way, and if we use our talents properly, we will be living the kind of life we should live." 
1. Glenn labels his sect of Christianity carefully, doubling back in his speech to clarify that he is a
2. Does Glenn fit into a modified version of Carlyle's hero as poet, given his ability to charm the public through words? Are the astronauts creating an entirely new category of hero?
3. In describing the criteria for heroes, Carlyle mentions humility and sincerity as two necessary characteristics. Are these at odds with Wolfe's description of the general personality-type and ego characteristic of the fighter pilot? In his speech, does Glenn manage to create an identity which bridges the opposing definitions and if so, how?
4. Immediately following Glenn's speech is the statement "Jesus Christ -- share it, brother" (95). Wolfe often writes in what seems to be the voice of a certain group -- in this case, the rest of the astronauts. How does this style differ from Carlyle's? Does Wolfe ever analyze through his own viewpoint or give his own opinion?
Last modified: 26 April 2004