Hillbilly Elegy Summary

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“A world of truly irrational behavior”: Culture in J. D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy In chapter nine of Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, J. D. Vance describes the town he grew up in. He recounts how his mother and neighbors purchase “giant TVs” (146), iPads, and nice clothes with “high-interest credit cards and payday loans” (146), spending to “pretend . . . [they’re] upper class” (146). Vance talks about how his family “scream and yell at each other like . . . spectators at a football game” (146), and during extremely stressful times “hit and punch each other, . . . in front of the rest of the family, including young children . . .” (146). Violence is such a normal thing in Vance’s community that “[a] bad day is when the neighbors call the police to stop the drama” (147). Alongside the violence is drug abuse, which Vance experiences first hand through his mother: “At least one member of the family uses drugs . . .” (146). Vance finds his neighbors to be despondent due to violence, drug abuse and unemployment since they “choose not to work when [they] should . . .” (147), and don 't try to keep them when they secure one. They are instead constantly being fired for “tardiness, or for stealing merchandise and selling it on eBay, or for having a customer complain about the smell of alcohol on our breath, or for taking five thirty minute restroom breaks per shift” (147). Even the elders of his community serve as terrible role models talking to
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