How did the military background of potential astronauts factor into their ability to fulfill the mission?
Those chosen had military backgrounds, which meant that they already satisfied certain standards and were accustomed to being examined for qualities they could not control about themselves, as well as adherence to standards such as cleanliness which they could. They were able to support their country against an enemy that was not always clearly defined, even though it seemed to be so to outsiders; similarly, commitment to the space program often meant pursuing short-term goals or following orders without direct connection to the ultimate aim of reaching the moon.
How does Wolfe allude to the future of different fates for members of the Mercury Seven?
Wolfe uses interweaving narratives based on the ultimate structure of couples instead of based on the Seven and their wives. Even as he presents the Seven behaving as one unit, he connects the individuals to their wives and shows the family dynamic. Additionally, he provides information about the array of final accomplishments experienced by the characters. These are carefully placed so as to protect the story as a thing in itself without the need to place his study of the beginning of NASA in a later context.
What is the general dynamic between a wife and husband in the Mercury Seven, based on the examples throughout the book?
A wife and husband meet, and she falls for his daring spirit. In the time period, she is aware of the general lack of proximate danger; however, the marriage progresses alongside the transition from fighter pilots to the concept of air travel. The wife feels the burden of support, bolstered by the prevailing spirit of Americans as brave and free to achieve what seem like impossible goals. She wishes to avoid the stuffiness of the previous generation and to let her husband achieve freely. However, the requirement of public appearances proves taxing because she must reaffirm not only to her husband or the rest of the world, but also to other women, that yes, it is possible to feel willing to let a husband go on missions with little notice that could easily lead to his death.
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