Hidden Figures: Margot Lee Shetterly Discussion on Segregation

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Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Impact of the Author’s Style on Readers in Hidden Figures
  • Conclusion
  • Works Cited


If the author of Hidden Figures, Margot Lee Shetterly, were to write a sequel she would most likely address the topics of discrimination against people of color in more recent times. Overall, my opinion on this book is mixed feelings. Shetterly had great a great topic in mind discussing the segregation and the treatment of Black Americans in the 1940 time period and in addition with feminism. The concept of “smashing the patriarchy”

Impact of the Author’s Style on Readers in Hidden Figures

The author, Margot Lee Shetterly’s style of writing is very textbook like. She writes in the third person, and the story is also in the past tense. The novel provides a lot of information about the women and the history of the time period. It provides factual information about the African American women who helped the United States win the space race in the 1960s. The author states, “Nearly two years after Randolph’s 1941 showdown, as the laboratory’s personnel requests reached the civil service, applications of qualified Negro female candidates began filtering in to the Langley Service Building, presenting themselves for consideration by the laboratory’s personnel staff (Shetterly 6).” The author’s style is extremely matter-of-factly, and accurate data not presented in the form of the characters’ thoughts or actions. She also claims, “Farmville, the town that Dorothy left behind in the 1940s, had become in the 1950s a microcosm of America’s struggle over integration in its public schools (Shetterly 140).” The style stays consistent throughout the novel. The effect of the style has an emotional effect on the reader. The way the information is presented makes it easy to understand, thus having an immense impact on the audience. Likewise, in the epilogue, she reflects the audience’s thoughts, “It’s the question that comes up most often when I tell people about the black women who worked as mathematicians at NASA: Why haven’t heard this story before (Shetterly 247)?” The readers express their betrayal after learning about the story of these women because they wish they had known about them earlier. The author has a strong way of expressing this groundbreaking anecdote through her style.

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In the book Hidden Figures, Shetterly concludes the book with one of the main characters Katherine Johnson attending a sorority conference up in Pennsylvania, named, Alpha kappa Alpha. While attending this conference they gathered around the television, which “illuminated the women’s faces, as the history of their country was written in the great diversity of their features” (235). Enjoying the company of her friends they all begin to watch the Apollo 11 astronauts make their way to the moon. This whole ending is dependent of the previous information presented because it is a monumental occasion as Johnson worked at NASA devoting her time and efforts which affected US history. All of Katherine's hard work of overcoming her battles of discrimination in the work place, form spending late nights all the way to taking care of her business in a laboratory, with a “metal bathroom sign bearing the words COLORED GIRLS” (8). Johnson thinks ahead of her life and wonders what possibilities, she states “once you took the first step,” she thought, “anything was possible” (246).

Works Cited

  1. Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race. First edition. New York, NY: William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2016. 

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