Only on Eduzaurus

Understanding the Hillbilly Elegy

Download essay Need help with essay?
Need help with writing assignment?
writers online
to help you with essay
Download PDF

The purpose of J.D Vance sharing all of his personal life in a book was to help other people out in the world that call people “hillbillies” who these so-called people really are. Vance wants people to know how “hillbillies” do their everyday lives, how they do things, the way that they see things, and what makes them different than the rest of society. It is important to recognize all of the characters and background of J.D family members and who they are, so that the readers have a stronger personal perception of Vances reasoning on his book.

The author of “Hillbilly Elegy” J.D Vance was raised in Middletown, Ohio by mom & various boyfriends of hers. Vance was especially loved by his maternal grandparents who he later on down the road was raised by grandmother Mamaw Vance. Vance was an interesting person he barely made graduated high school and then Vance decided to join the Marines afterwards when Vance graduated from boot camp he left to serve in Iraq. After the military Vance went on to attended Ohio State University, “Go Brutus Buckeye!” after college Vance made the choice to attended Yale Law School where he met Usha his wife and start a family shortly afterwards. “Hillbilly Elegy,” was very home hitting reading this book truly lets you get a glimpse of J.D Vance’s life and his upbringing.

Essay due? We'll write it for you!

Any subject

Min. 3-hour delivery

Pay if satisfied

Get your price

Mamaw Vance was J.D maternal grandmother whose actual name was Bonnie Blanton Vance, she married J.D’s papaw at only 14 years old and moved from a place in Kentucky called Jackson to a place in Ohio called Middletown to create a better life for herself and her family, well the main real reason she packed up and moved was to get away from her livid family. Mamaw Vance got pregnant at the age of 13, unfortunately, the baby died only within a week of their entrance into the world. Moving on Mamaw Vance was credited for being a hard-wearing, courageous woman who raised J.D for pretty much most of his who upbringing. Later on, in Mamaw Vances life she and her husband divorced. Sadly, later on she passed away while J.D was still in active duty in the Marines.

J.D Vance’s maternal Grandfather who he called Papaw Vance was known as Jim Lee Vance and he sure was a family man. Papaw Vance married Mamaw Vance when he was only 17 years old and went with Mamaw to also make a better life for themselves. After they lost their child, Papaw got employed on at Armco manufacturing company. Later on, Papaw Vance became an alcoholic which caused a number of marriage problems which was why Mamaw Vance gave up trying to help him and decided nothing could be fixed, so they separated. Shortly after separating Papaw Vance gave up the alcohol and began to work on sobriety. J.D was very close with his grandparents. J.D lost his grandfather at the age of 13 years old due to illness. It is very sad losing the people who raised you.

Mother of J.D was Bev Vance who found it very hard to stay with only one single man. She was constantly bringing home different guys in and out of her kids’ lives. J.D’s mother’s personality is stern and hotheaded just like J.D’s Mamaw. J.D’s mother battled in her younger age with domestic abuse and substance abuse, but still continues with it. As J.D was growing up Bev would stay super late out at night drinking and partying. After Bev lost her dad, Papaw Vance she began an addiction to prescribed narcotics which became a gate way to one of the worse death seeking drug, heroin. Since Papaw Vance passed away when J. D was only 13 years old, his mother was constantly in and out of rehabilitation centers, which let to J.D not being able to trust the promises she would make to him. Not every person only had negative qualities, in the book J.D. made sure to point out the better qualities of his mother Bev. Bev was a nurse who was extraordinarily brainy and who was a huge believer in how it was extremely important to go to school and be educated. Something J.D did not follow in his mother’s footsteps was being in the top percentage in high school, he barely made it to graduation. J.D’s mother ended up taking a pause on college due to having J.D sister after graduating high school, but she did go back to get her nursing degree. In J.D Vances book he does mention that his mother did engrave in their minds growing up how important academic chases are.

J.D Vance’s mother gave birth to his sister Lindsay after graduating high school. Lindsay was not J.D’s full blood sister, only half-sister. Even though their only half related, J.D still considers his sister as a full blood sister, because of how close they both are to one another. As Lindsay and J.D’s mother was going through the drug abuse and the toxic relationships with different men, Lindsay genuinely aided security J.D and took on the mothering accountabilities that their mother wasn’t doing. Because of the maturity and close connection, they both have to each other even to this day, J.D still turns to his sister for advice and just to talk. J,D wrote that Lindsay has forever been “more adult than child.” J.D is very appreciative for the person his sister Lindsay has frolicked in his life and for all of the indispensable encouragement she has given him.

Aunt Wee also known as Lori Vance was another important part of J.D Vances book. Aunt Wee was Bev’s baby sister who actually dropped out of high school at the age of 16 years old and was in a hurry to get married to her husband who was extremely abusive. Aunt Wee husband was abusive to the point that he prevented Aunt Wee from seeing all of her family. If it wasn’t for Mamaw and Papaw Vance, she would have never escaped that toxic marriage. After Aunt Wee got out of that abusive relationship, she got a great job working in radiology which lead her to meeting a much kinder gentleman. Something that J.D did while writing this book, he uses Aunt Wee’s fresh living as an exemplary for what it might look like to leave behind the shortcoming of the hillbilly life and how the unmannerly aspects disseminates it.

Aunt Wee and Bev have an older brother Uncle Jimmy, who had a hard time coping with Papaw and Mamaw’s toxic marriage, but he overcame that and finished high school and went to college to make a better life for himself. Taking night classes showed that if you really want to make a difference in your life and you have the mindset and influence, you can conquer anything. Jimmy did good by himself, he was able to get hired on at a company that we know for many of baby products called Johnson & Johnson working in sales. In the book J.D mentions Appalachian folks and these individuals are known as the hillbillies, they don’t really go anywhere in life. When J.D writes about his Uncle Jimmy, J.D places his uncle and aunt as an example of life accomplishment that very rare with being a part of the Appalachian people and it takes determination to become successful when that is the type of person you are and you were raised as.

Another important character in J.D book is his wife Usha. Usha and J.D met during law school and hit it off instantaneously. Something that J.D needed Usha for was for direction with the upper and middle-class society, which is where he lives now him his lifetime, but before he really did not understand how to circumnavigate in that lifestyle. Usha is the wife that helps J.D escape and leave behind the bad habits that his upbringing was associated with. The hillbilly behavior is something J.D needed to overcome which basically was the rage of anger. Beginning of Usha and J.D’s relationship and they were wanting to become more committed and serious they had to both work out resolution skills that came from J.D. Instead of working through arguments with Usha he could just stop talking, urn off himself, and pull himself out of that was going on. What caused J.D to shut himself out of an argument was everyone around him growing up abused one another and the last thing he wanted was for that to happen with Usha and him. Being the great wife Usha is, she slowly changed J.D she made him understand that it’s okay to argue. Every relationship has disagreements and running away from that only makes it worse. There is no room for growth if you can’t communicate to each other.

Hillbilly Elegy is really all about how the upper class of individuals talk down on hillbillies. Hillbillies to J.D are like a different species than the rest of the world the way he talks about them. Something that J.D writes about it how significant family morals are to hillbillies, but at the same time these hillbillies most of them are going through unpredictability, ferocity, drug abuse, smugness, and are so damaging that they hinder the community’s ability have robust family morals.

J.D Vance really gets out how influencing it is to have a strong network of support as a younger person who is living in poverty in The United States. In Hillbilly Elegy Vance talks about how the image of a church is supposed to be a place where steadiness and having a purpose in life is shown. Religion of any sort he believes inspires pessimistic people and people who feel that they are despairing to encourage and allow them to be driven to work harder to get to a better place in life for themselves. Vance wants people to not think that they are defeated by their upbringing, because it is not their fault. They were never asked to have the life that they have.

In Hillbilly elegy Vance talks about having a reoccurring dream from his childhood where he is trapped in a conference room inside a treehouse with his sister Lindsay and his grandmother, when out of nowhere his mother comes in and starts going chaotic and destructive. He mentions how both his grandmother and sister got out of the room, but how he was stuck in there alone. This dream that Vance has allows had reoccurring is a sign of individuality catastrophe that someone goes through when going from different social economic classes. Vance goes from poor to medium class and he is having a hard time with it, he thinks that he is a conspirator to his community, because he has grown apart and moved on to a better foundation. As the dream ends it ends in reconcile, because it’s a never finished emotive psychological problematic issue that happens when he is finally fled from the poverty he was trapped in for all of his childhood as well as the abuse.

Going back to the hillbilly culture, Vance is proud of where he came from, but he wants his community of hillbillies to exposed themselves to a big alteration. It will be the first time for change, but Vance wants them to look at their reflection and consider the verge effects of how they are all socially identified when it comes to comparison of the other social classes.

Vance writes about the economic stand point and how it depends on oneself. Vance goes into writing about how he considers a perception of rising movement and he accentuates an economy of a hillbilly is success momentously varies upon his or her awareness of individual action. A person who comes from poor upbringing and poverty that wants to escape can escape and Vance goes on to say that it is possible to escape, if that individual’s mindset is strongminded to make use of all the opportunities that they are given. While giving this advice, Vance also stresses how to get in a better spot in life, it can be problematic when trying to gain progress, knowing that complications and people trying absolute their absolute best to knock you down when trying to rise up, that you have to continue and keep going for what you are trying to achieve.

Vance writes about how people in Appalachia must really want opportunities and take the ones that are given, but it seems that his hillbilly community has a mindset of laziness and lacking motivation, but at the same time they want to dog others coming from a different class and vice versa. Appalachia community takes things for granted. While reading I read where Vance writes about how before Yale Law School, he really needed money so he got hired on at a very hard job, working long hours, and being physically exhausted. He didn’t care, he was willing to continue the job, because the pay was decent and he had health benefits. He mentions how one day a young teenage boy comes into his job, seeking a job to be able to make money to support his girlfriend who is pregnant and he gets the job. On top of this boy getting a job, his pregnant girlfriend was offered a job, but they both took that opportunity for granted and they would show up for work late all of the time and sometimes not even show up. The irresponsibility of the Appalachians community Vance was raised in. One can complain about profusely about the life you are living, but will not put in the effort and work to get out of there.

Moving on, Vance bring economic and political points into his writings, because Vance wants to truthfully illustrate the conditions that indication a reason for Appalachian poverty and hillbilly marginalization. Another reason is to build an observation on what can be done to discourse these complications. Vance feels that this is not a government problem as much as it is a problem dealing with socialization and feels that, that is how it needs to be handled as a social problem. Vance writes that programs are distant from faultless, but to the level that he nearly surrendered and that the responsibility lies rationally with encouragements outside the government’s power. When it comes to government policy reform is not going to develop the lives of Appalachians community working class what Vance mentions. J.D Vance believes that his generation and the new generations coming up need to aim higher and better than the previous generations. Politics cannot help solving the problems of socialization issues, that I not their job. It lies in the person themselves. Vance gives an example by mentioning how that working-class boys do much worse in school, because they see that school work is something females do. The government can’t inforce a rule or program to change that problem, it lies within the individual. Vance suggest that to fix these glitches is to work with society by itself to change the stories that it passes down to its younger folks.

There is lots of critics who read Hillbilly Elegy and cannot stand where J.D Vance stands with the government and poverty. Vance sees that the reason that there is poverty in Appalachia is due to pure laziness and motivational people who complain about where there from and don’t do anything to reconcile it. The people who trying to get out and move into a different social class try and then give up so easily. Other’s believe that it is the governments fault for not doing more than what they could do help the people in poverty.

Poverty is not just one sides personally, I think it is the individual themselves and it is the government. It is the individual, because they might not be doing everything they can to get out of a lifestyle such as poverty. If you want a change bad enough, you should be able to make the right decisions to get there. It is a government issue, because that the system is cheated. Of course, when it comes to government it is not fair, but they should do more checks. It is not fair for someone who is making decent comfortable living to be getting more help than the people living in poverty. I see people with lone star cards shopping for groceries and they use that card with a whole wad of cash in their designer bags with their 5 or more children. There is things that I agree with J.D Vance on and there is things that I personally see differently.

This book puts out a lot of stereotypes not only for the Appalachian community, but for the other people who are in poverty. Using a person story of your own upbringing and how you succeeded, shouldn’t be stereotyped for the rest of the percentages of poverty around The United States. People are different from people, people experience different things. You shouldn’t compare how you made it out of a poverty town and talk down on the other people from the same place or other places. It might not be as easy to escape poverty for one person like it was for another. It is possible however to want something bad enough and make it happen. There is always opportunities, so taking the right ones and making a life that you want and dreamed about is not impossible. Don’t let someone compare their life to yours and it goes the other way around.


This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers. You can order our professional work here.

We use cookies to offer you the best experience. By continuing to use this website, you consent to our Cookies policy.


Want to get a custom essay from scratch?

Do not miss your deadline waiting for inspiration!

Our writers will handle essay of any difficulty in no time.