Novel: Hidden Figures

Author: Margot Lee Shetterly


In the novel “Hidden Figures” by Margot Lee Shetterly, the power of community serves as a central theme, showcasing the vital role that supportive networks and interconnectedness play in the lives of the protagonists. The story explores how the characters’ families, neighborhoods, and work communities provide them with the necessary support, opportunities, and inspiration to overcome the societal barriers and discrimination they face.

Through their collective efforts and the bonds they form, the characters achieve remarkable success in their respective fields and work towards advancing equality and opportunities for future generations. This theme of the power of community is evident throughout the novel, as seen in the portrayal of the characters, their actions, motivations, the author’s perception of reality, the tone of the narrative, and the values promoted.

Thematic Statement:

“The Power of Community” in “Hidden Figures” highlights the essential role of supportive networks and interconnected communities in empowering individuals to overcome adversity, pursue their ambitions, and effect positive change in society.


The characters in the novel come from close-knit black neighborhoods and families that prioritize community engagement. Dorothy Vaughan, Katherine Johnson, and Mary Jackson rely on their families, extended communities, and networks to thrive and achieve their goals. For example, Katherine Johnson’s membership in the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority and mentorship from William Waldron Schieffelin Claytor demonstrate the importance of community connections in her educational and professional journey.


The characters in the story actively pursue their goals and aspirations, taking control of their lives. They are not passive victims of fate but instead harness the power of community to overcome societal barriers. The characters’ actions, such as demanding equal treatment and advocating for others, reflect their agency and determination to create positive change within their communities and society at large.


The characters are motivated by their aspirations for progress, equality, and the betterment of their communities. Their behaviors are driven by the values of justice, equality, and empowerment. For instance, Mary Jackson’s decision to take a demotion to fight for equal opportunity hiring exemplifies her commitment to helping others advance and creating a more inclusive environment.


The author perceives reality through a lens that highlights the significance of community and interconnectedness. The story emphasizes the transformative power of collective efforts and portrays the characters’ lives as shaped by their communities. The author’s attention to the characters’ interactions, relationships, and the support they receive from their communities underscores the importance of community in achieving personal and professional success.


The author’s attitude towards the subject of community is positive and hopeful. The narrative tone reflects admiration for the characters’ accomplishments and the communities that supported them. The author’s emphasis on the power of resilience, determination, and supportive networks suggests an underlying belief in the strength of community to overcome adversity and effect positive change.


The characters in the story value the strength of their communities, family bonds, mentorship, and the importance of giving back. They promote the values of unity, equality, and social progress. The author highlights how the characters’ achievements are not solely individual accomplishments but the result of community support and collaboration. The characters’ actions, such as mentoring others and advocating for equal opportunities, demonstrate their commitment to improving their communities and empowering future generations.

In conclusion, “Hidden Figures” portrays the power of community as a driving force behind the protagonists’ achievements. The story showcases the transformative impact of supportive networks, mentorship, and collective action in overcoming obstacles and effecting positive change. Through their interactions, motivations, and the values they promote, the characters exemplify the potential of communities to empower individuals and pave the way for a more inclusive and equitable society.

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