A memoir refers to a set of written down events thatare a collection of memories that took place in an individual’s life.Apparently, the book Hillbilly Elegyis written by J.
D Vance and is about the events that took place in his life.Vance narrates his upbringing, his family background and his relationship withhis family. The book discusses the Appalachian values which Vance upheld as hegrew up and how the benefits related to the social problems that were part ofhis hometown. The book explains the hardships that Vance has been through andhow hard it was for him in his early years (Vance 23).
Even though Vance wasraised up in Middle-town, Ohio, his ancestors hailed from a different place,Breathitt County in the critical state of Kentucky.When growing up, Vance had an exceedingly hard timebecause his mother was always on drugs. He kept shifting from one area toanother, and she did not have a permanent residence. He could not comprehendwhy his mother was always shifting, but as it was, he was relatively youngthen. The frequent relocations prompted Vance to spend all his summers at hisgrandparents’ house in Kentucky until he was attained twelve years. Whileresiding there, Vance was made to understand the importance of Appalachianvalues (Vance 37). The Appalachian virtues included loyalty, togetherness, andrespect for people including the dead. As he spent his summer holiday atKentucky, he noticed that every time a hearse passed by the street, everybodywould stop.
He asked his grandmother about the intriguing, and she responded bysaying that, as the hill people, the community respected their dead.Vance discusses the differences between living withhis grandparents’ and other family relatives as well as residing with hismother. When he was at home with his guardian in Ohio, life seemed lonely andscary. Apparently, despite his mother bringing and introducing numerous men inhis life, none of them settled with her for long. They either briefly dated orcasually got married.
Being a kid, life proved to be very stressful back then.His life lacked stability, and it was hard for him to identify with his mother.People viewed him as an abandoned son because he had no clue about his father.But in Kentucky, people viewed her differently. Her grandmother was the mostskilled auto mechanic in the entire town (Vance 48).
People recognized Vance asher grandson. In his grandparents’ house, he felt loved and he was happy thatthere were people that he could identify with.The primary reason why the author got his way up wasthat of his grandparents who eventually made up. He usually deemed them of the guardiansthat was the ever-encouraging. He alleged that economic insecurity takes only anegligible percentage of the problems bedeviling the community. Apparently, thesignificant issue highlighted by Vance is culture (Vance 54). The author reminisced about his duties asgrocery attendant in a store in Kentucky.
He later watched resentfully as hisneighbors chattered on their cell phones as they carried on with the checkoutline.Besides, Vance advanced my identity and enhanced myunderstanding of the American politics. For instance, many political scientistshave typically used their millions of words to explain how the South andAppalachia transformed from being Democrats to Republicans in a short while.Notably, Vance relayed a message of personal responsibility and tough love. Helost patience with a childhood friend who alleged that he quit his employmentbecause he would rise at dawn to blame the “Obama economy”.Nonetheless, Vance has both fanatics and critics in equal measure.
His head-onencounter with a subject that was deemed as taboo was relatively admirable. Hiscritiques were generously crafted. He noted that the hillbilly culture was notdestroyed by laziness, but “learned helplessness” as argued by MartinSeligman.
It was a fatalistic belief that was born with intense diversity thatanything could not alter it.As Vance continued with his stay in Kentucky, he spentmost times with his caring Uncles Teaberry and Pet. His uncles also upheld theAppalachian Values and knew how important they are. They were greatstorytellers, and Vance liked listening to them. But there is this one storywhich uncle Pet told him of “Big Red” that fascinated Vance. It was atruck driver who insulted Pet’s mum. He was very offended and being anAppalachian; he beat up the man until he was unconscious. According to Vance(59), even though the Appalachian values were outstanding and a mark of thecommunity’s identity, what was ironical is that the same benefits condonedbeating up a person if they insulted another.
It was clear that there were noconsequences for violent behavior. The tales that Vance was fed with hardlymattered then because he was relatively young. He was in support of the membersof his family because they seemed to enforce Hillbilly justice. Vance grew upwith an understanding that violence was acceptable if it was used to defendjustice. The reason was that his family from Kentucky framed it as a way ofexecuting impartiality. In his recent trips to Jackson, Kentucky, Vance wassaddened by what he saw.
Vance (83) alleged that Appalachia was headed for theworst because of the people’s involvement in drug abuse. The buildings appearedto be dilapidated, and the society was full of despair because of poverty thathad engulfed the whole area. The public-school system was failing, and therewas also a prescription drug epidemic. These occurrences saddened Vance becauseJackson had played a significant role in the development of his life. It was aplace that he would freely call home.
Throughout the memoir, Vance has made his audiencefeel like part of his life. He has helped his spectators identify with thestruggles that he has encountered all his life. A lot of people had undergonelife’s hurdles before they got to where they are today. Vance had helped theaudience understand that even though he did not have a stable family when hewas growing up, he still made it in life. He found an option which was hisgrandparents who helped him identify and know himself better. In his book,Vance narrates his experiences when he was growing up (Vance 89). He explainsabout his relatives and how they helped him when growing up.
He says that thebest thing that ever happened in his life was having his grandparents with him.He explains the history of his grandparents, from when became romanticallyinvolved in 1946, to how they got their first child and all the events thattook place afterward.Vance explains the struggles that his grandparentswent through in their lives. They got their first child at a very early age.His grandmother was thirteen years old while his grandfather was 16.
Sadly,their first child passed on after his birth. Later in their marriage, Vance explains the difficulties that hisgrandparents faced in their marriage. His grandfather would even arrive homedrunk, and this made his grandmother exceedingly angry. At one point, hisgrandmother vowed to kill him if he ever came back while drunk. Vance explainsthe struggles that each of his extended family members faced. The history ofhis family makes it much easier to identify with him and the struggles that hewent through (Vance 102). The audience can understand what went wrong and theeffects each situation had with Vance. He tells us the reasons he lived withhis grandparents and explains all the struggles he had to go through with his mother.
There have been a lot of authors who have writtenmemoirs about their lives. They have written about all events that have takenplace in their lives including the private events. An example of such a writeris Oprah Winfrey. The story of Vance makes people relate more and better tohim. People can understand that even the rich and famous have gone through partof the struggles that other people go through. Oprah’s story is alsounfortunate and encouraging at the same time. At some point, it seems similarto Vance’s. They all discuss the struggles that they have been through whenyoung.
Both stories involve parents. What is fascinating about theirchronologies is that despite all the problems they faced in life, theyeventually made it (Vance 113). Other writers who would want to write theirmemoirs should get courage from this. They should understand that talking abouttheir life and struggles encourages their audiences.The memoir by Vance helped me broaden my own identityby understanding and accepting myself. He helped understand that it is okay andit’s not out of the norm for a family to have family issues.
The bookencouraged me because it made me realize the importance of resilience. Nomatter the challenges someone is going through in life, they are not supposedto lose hope. Vance helped me understand that accepting one’s self is a steptoward becoming a more exceptional person.
It is very encouraging for me to seethat there are problems in life that I have gone through similar to what Vancehad to go through. Divorce is one of the issues that most of the children inAmerica go through. It is highly prevalent, and some of the children are unableto overcome it. The book by Vance has a tremendous impact on peopleespecially youths and children who may be undergoing challenges that they feelthey cannot make it through. Other writers should learn from him and write morememoirs about themselves to encourage other people who may be feelingdiscouraged.
To help people know that life is bigger than the problems they aregoing through.