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A 2 Pages Term Paper on THE RIGHT STUFF

    The best-selling book about American astronauts, The Right Stuff, describes the skills and the characters of the first Project Mercury team. It outlines men like Alan Sheppard, John Glenn, Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, Wally Shirra, Deke Slayton, and Gus Grissom. These men were sensed to be different as they all were from one another, they all had something that seasoned aviators knew to be “the right stuff.” They behaved like people think fighter pilots should – they were fearless, of course, and somewhat reckless, though always confident. They had extremely quick reflexes, remained cool under pressure, and never showed any concern that they might end up among the gruesome statistics of their profession. This is the “right stuff” and not everyone had the right stuff, but one has to have it to make it to the top in combat aviation or the test pilot business. It was hard to define, but everyone knew it when they saw it.

But what remains most remarkable about The Right Stuff is what the author discovers and the reader learns. The book elevated Wolfe's literary status and name recognition because it depicts the "larger truth." The Right Stuff abounds with keen insights about the logic behind the choice and training of the first astronauts; their mentality, drive, and lifestyle, and their public perception and symbolic national importance as I have also mentioned before. Wolfe focused his attentions on the American space program and in 1979 wrote what has become his best known and perhaps most enlightening piece of New Journalism, The Right Stuff.

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    This book is his most commercially successful nonfiction work, which has later been made into a popular film of the same title, The Right Stuff embraces a narrative structure wherein scene-by-scene construction and character dialogue are more limited, unlike Wolfe's other works. On the other hand, the detailing of status-life symbols and the presentation of multiple points of view appear prominently and arc used effectively to endorse Wolfe's contentions. While Wolfe exhibits less of his customary stylistic flair, the bold strokes that do surface seem more integral to the text, more elucidating of the point--rather than a simple attention- securing device.

    In relation to American soldiers’, in my opinion the right stuff is a must. The right stuff is the quality beyond bravery, beyond courage. It's men like Chuck Yeager, the greatest test pilot of all and the fastest man on earth. Pete Conrad, who almost laughed himself out of the running. Gus Grissom, who almost lost it when his capsule sank. They were the first Americans in space battling the Russians for control of the heavens by putting their lives on the line. The women had it too. While their husbands were away they had to perform with the whole world watching them on television. The idea 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 reflexes, the experience, the coolness, to pull it back in the last yawning moment.

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    Wolfe defines a seemingly infinite series of tests, a dizzy progression of steps, a pyramid extraordinarily high and steep and the idea was to prove at every foot of the way up that pyramid that you were one of the elected and appointed ones who had the “right stuff” and could move higher and higher and even ultimately, you 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, the ones with the Right Stuff. So, it is not only the soldiers we should be saying that for, even an ordinary person must operate a great deal of The Right Stuff. Where Wolfe's book excels is his understanding of the astronauts' inner drive. They were painfully aware of the attitude held by their peers in the test-pilot pyramid, yet they did not give up even for a second.

    What does it take to be an ace fighter jock? No one knows better than General Chuck Yeager. During World War II, at age 21, Yeager shot down five German planes in one day. In 1947, he became the first pilot to shatter the sound barrier. That event, among others in his trail-blazing career, was immortalized in Tom Wolfe's best-selling book "The Right Stuff."

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    You've been taken in. When you've been involved in the real thing, the play stuff doesn't cut it. He concentrated on what I had to do. If you panic, you die.

    Moreover, speaking of the right stuff we can see it from the religious point of view as well. What you may not know about many of the early astronaut heroes, the "right stuff" included deep religious faith. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin are best known as the first astronauts to land on the moon and take that "giant leap for mankind." But you probably don't know that before they emerged from the spaceship, Aldrin pulled out a Bible. Time and again Wolfe keeps stressing on the fact that According to Tom Wolfe, the Mercury astronauts showed the Right Stuff by staying calm in a crisis and by acting correctly, immediately, effortlessly.

    So I would like to close the argument on the note that no matter what the field of life might be, everyone who performs a task wants a reward for it. Regardless of what the reward may be, one must never forget that it is your inner self-contention that makes you the happiest person alive and that can only be achieved if you or I have the quality to keep going, again and again, night and day till we have achieved what we desired for or aimed for. The soldiers have a similar life, the difference being only that whatever they will do to achieve or fulfill their task will be a media scoop very soon and they will be recognized all over for their heroism, but many a times this might not become an international issue. But, self-contention is a must.

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Works Cited

Retrieved from the World Wide Web on November 27, 2001

  • www.english.upenn.edu
  • www.af.mil/lib/csafbook/rstuff
  • www.nytimes.com/books/98/11/08/specials/wolfe
  • www.johnholleman.com/film/rightstuff

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