Hillbilly Elegy Analysis

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J.D Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis is a personal psychological, cultural and sociological analysis of poor white working-class Americans. Specifically, Hillbilly Elegy examines the life of the author in Middletown Ohio, a once booming post war steel town that today has a struggling economy, diminishing family values and a rapid increase in drug abuse. At the beginning of the memoir, Vance perfectly situates the reader to the uniqueness from his life in Middletown. Vance repeatedly wrote throughout the memoir that the youth living in this Ohio steel town has a bleak and troubling future. Vance illustrates the statistics that children like him living in these towns were lucky if they just manage to avoid welfare or unlucky by dying from a heroin overdose. However, the outcome of Vance’s life was different as he was graduated from Yale Law School, able to get a well-paying job and currently living the American Dream with his wife Usha. The purpose of the author in this memoir was to understand the reader of how social mobility feels and more importantly, what happens to the lives of the white working-class Americans, in particular the psychological impact that spiritual and material poverty has on their children. J.D Vance provides an explanation for the loss of the American dream to poor white Americans living in a toxic culture in this Ohio steel town. Throughout his early childhood of Vance’s life can be described as chaotic. This was
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