Hillbilly Elegy Essay

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Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance is a memoir that follows J.D. through a childhood full of hope, adventure, and physical and mental abuse. This memoir follows not only J.D. through a life of poverty, but examines a culture in crisis, commonly referred to as ‘hillbillys’. J.D. helps examine and identify the characteristics of the culture from the inside, while effectively telling the story of the class’s social decline. J.D. examines the hope his family possesses following the war, however as years begin to pass it becomes abundantly clear that no form of government aid can truly help the people of his community. In search of a life above the poverty line, J.D.’s family leaves Kentucky in search of a better life, possessing only hope in their hearts. This powerful…show more content…
“[He] was able to escape the worst of [his] culture’s inheritance. And uneasy though [he is] about [his] new life, [he] cannot whine about it,” (253). The Hillbilly culture is full of poverty, however it explodes with family values and support from those who don’t battle with addiction. J.D. claims that, “the life [he] leads now was the stuff of fantasy during [his] childhood. So many people helped create that fantasy,” (253). The culture that J.D. illustrates in his memoir is one that appears so far away from many of us, a culture that appears to be in crisis, although J.D. discusses the fact that the hillbilly’s are not a culture, but a community. “At every level of [his] life and in every environment, [J.D.] found family and mentors and lifelong friends who supported and enabled [him],” (253), years later he reflects upon his childhood and wonders, “where would [he] be without them?,” (253). J.D. is who he is and is successful because of the people that pushed him, helped him, and encouraged him that he was great and that he could only be anything if he
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