Analysis Of Hillbilly Elegy

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In the excerpt from Hillbilly Elegy, a memoir written in first person point of view, J.D. Vance writes about the time he spent at Yale, but also the identity crisis that follows with it. Throughout his memoir, Vance presents the theme that the identity that one grew up with, in a place where they felt a sense of belonging, will stick with one forever, despite stereotypes or new environments. Top schools, including of Harvard, Stanford, and Yale — the school Vance went to — are meant for the most intelligent, elite students. These students are often considered and stereotyped, quite truthfully, to be wealthy and hardcore geniuses. However, Vance comes from a poorer background where people are stereotyped as not too smart but is still able to…show more content…
Vance describes how he feels like an outcast because of his poorer and not necessarily “smart” background. He seems to struggle to find a place where he belongs, or even figure out who he is, because of this new environment. This reveals Vance’s uncertainty with his Yale identity; he doesn’t feel like he belongs or that this is his real identity. Later on, Vance says in realization, “As I realized how different I was from my classmates at Yale, I grew to appreciate how similar to the people back home” (Vance 205). A reason for finding this similarity is the fact that Vance’s hometown is where he spent most of life and belonged; he had made it into Yale, but at the same time, it is with the poorer country kids where he truly feels as though he belongs because he is like them. Compared to Yale, where many are rich geniuses, Vance feels as though he is connected more to the poor hillbillies because he grew up with them, lived there most of his life, and is where he can show his true personality because he knows he won’t be judged. In fact, Vance feels so…show more content…
Vance’s intimacy with the reader — providing multiple examples from his life in detail, from his feelings about being a student at Yale to the incident with the lady at the gas station — reveal how he feels lost with his identity at Yale but confident with his hometown identity because he explains how he feels, making the reader more empathetic towards him. For example, he says about being a student at Yale, “I was an anomaly” (Vance 204) to describe how he is different and odd compared to the other rich and intelligent students. This is effective and powerful in the first person point of view, because it is his direct words, compared to the third person point of view, in which it would be more reliable (being verified by another source) but less eye-opening and precise. Additionally, by starting from his first day at Yale to his journey through going to the university, Vance shows how his confusion about his identity ultimately helps him decide which identity he favors and feels more connected with, the one at Yale or the one at home, throughout his time at the university. Through his intimacy and description of multiple time periods, Vance also enhances the reader’s depth of knowledge of his life, providing multiple stories, incidents, and thoughts at different points throughout his journey in Yale, including of lying
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