National Conversation about Poverty

The success of every society is determined by values, cultural practices, and tendencies that can address the hurdles affecting its people. The author of the book “Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis”, James David Vance, acknowledges that many people in the United States have been unable to realize the fruits of the American dream. Although economic instability is a common concern in many neighborhoods, the book gives special attention to the nature of social rot experienced in Vance’s community. A proper understanding of the major challenges affecting people can promote adequate strategies to promote social mobility. This paper focuses on the author’s arguments, experiences, and observations to explore the root causes and persistence of poverty in the targeted community. The discussion goes further to describe how Vance raises the tone for the national conversation about poverty.

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Summary of the Book

The author of the text begins by describing his childhood experiences in Middletown, Ohio. Vance grew up in a family that was characterized by problems such as poverty and lack of various resources. Many people in the neighborhood did not have physical jobs or had to look for different sources of income. Poverty made it impossible for many individuals in the neighborhood to achieve their goals. The narrator also indicates that his grandparents were abusive and alcoholic. Additionally, the author’s mother was abusing different drugs and alcohol. She was also engaged in several relationships that failed. These issues explain why the author had to be brought up by his grandparents.

His grandmother was tough and loving. This kind of support made it easier for him to leave the town and pursue his academic goals. He managed to attend Yale Law School and Ohio State University. This achievement is what made it possible for Vance to achieve social mobility. The book raises serious questions about people’s roles in the society and their misfortunes. The issue of social rot is captured in the book to describe the nature of hillbilly culture. Many people in Vance’s society appear to have reaped the fruits of various social malpractices. The absence of work ethic is described in the book as one of the causes of misfortunes in people’s lives. The reader observes clearly that most of the individuals in the neighborhood had lost faith and hope. They found it to benefit from upward mobility.

National Conversation about Poverty: Root Causes and Persistence of Poverty

The author of this memoir uses a detailed approach to analyze the nature of the predicaments affecting many people his community. What comes out clearly from the book is that most of these problems arise from the people’s malpractices and inability to deal with every change experienced in the community. The history of his family is presented to explain why members of the town are unable to lead quality lives or pursue the American dream. It is notable that Papaw (Vance’s grandfather) used to work for ARMCO Steel whereby he earned good benefits and income. Unfortunately, the country experienced a new industrial shift in the 1970s. This new development resulted in loss of opportunities and jobs. The citizens living in different towns became trapped and incapable of finding new opportunities. The book reveals that most of the people who had good education or well connected left the town for better opportunities.

The individuals who were left behind became poor. This was the case because the loss of jobs resulted in both social and economic decline. The author’s family background can be studied to understand how the developments experienced in the neighborhood led to poverty. For instance, his mother became alcoholic and incapable of supporting his childhood needs. She had multiple lovers and husbands who used to visit their home. Fighting was common the family. These malpractices, according to the author, reflected the major predicaments facing the wider society.

Members of the community are unable to make appropriate decisions about their lives. For instance, most of the individuals are not in a position to engage in different economic activities that can lift them out of poverty. Additionally, the affected individuals appear to embrace the use of addictive substances such as alcohol. Consequently, they become disoriented and unable to support their children. The portrayal of Vance’s mother gives a true picture of the problems that affected the community. Conflicts and abuse became common in every family. This is the same reason why the author’s mother was unable to offer good care to him.

The author acknowledges that children from poor families or disadvantaged backgrounds tend to record poor results in school. The increased level of conflict or abuse makes it impossible for them to concentrate. The nature of this challenge explains why different families have remained poor and incapable of pursuing their goals. When children fail to get the right support and education, chances of upward mobility become minimal. These challenges explain why poverty has affected many people in different parts of the nation.

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The reader observes clearly that violence and drug abuse affect the welfare of many children in this neighborhood. For example, Vance’s mother is unable to lead a quality life because of the violence inflicted by his grandparents. Drug use and alcoholism are also described as barriers to a successful life. This kind of negligence affects the welfare of young children. These developments explain why it appears impossible for both Vance and his mother to lead normal lives. These misbehaviors create societies that are unable to get rid of poverty.

The memoir acknowledges that Vance’s neighborhood witnessed high levels of poverty during his childhood. Although poverty is described as a major concern for many people in the society, Vance indicates that the manner in which individuals react to it is worth noting. It is indicated that most of the individuals do not struggle to tackle the major challenges affecting them. According to the book, different members of the community have surrendered to laziness. To make the situation worse, the people of the region have succumbed to drug dependency.

Vance shows clearly that the community is full of strong and able men who can pursue different economic activities and eventually tackle the problem of poverty. Although attributes such as industrialization and hard work are common in the community, very few people are keen to embrace them and achieve the American dream. The problem of helplessness has become contagious in the neighborhood. This new position results in reduced levels of personal involvement. Many citizens believe strongly that they can do very little to pursue their dreams and get rid of the increasing levels of poverty.

Family breakdown and community decay come out as critical factors that result in poverty in the region. The fact that Vance had to be raised by his aging grandparents explains how many young people are unable to achieve their potential. Children require adequate care, resources, and support from their parents. This practice equips them with the required strength that can take them further in their lives. Parents and their children find it hard to tackle the challenge of poverty. This is why the quandary has persisted in the community.

The issue of social rot is presented as another cause of poverty. With people not willing to work hard, the region finds it hard to engage in economic activities that can deal with poverty. The society disintegrates further due to various factors such as drug use and alcoholism. This is a persuasive problem that affects both the young and the elderly. This is true because Vance’s mother and his grandparents are affected by drug dependency. The pervasive social rot explains why the family structure is unsustainable. Vance’s mother is the best example of a family structure that has been disoriented. The situation complicates the experiences of different children, thereby affecting their academic aims.

The people’s inability to network, acquire quality education, and form appropriate networks contribute to the nature of poverty in the region. The malpractice is contrasted with the behaviors embraced by the wealthy members of the community. Failure to network creates a scenario whereby new opportunities cannot be identified or pursued. This is something that has led to the problem of poverty in the country.

The absence or deterioration of work ethic in the described region is another contributing factor to poverty. For instance, the author narrates the story of a young man who had to quit his job because he was unhappy with the nature of the working hours. Similarly, one of Vance’s coworker decides to skip work because his girlfriend was pregnant. These attributes, therefore, explain the sources of poverty and why it has persisted over the years.

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Raising the Tone of Discourse

The above discussion shows conclusively that the book by J. D. Vance brings to the national conversation the root causes, nature, and persistence of poverty in the United States. By doing so, the text raises the tone for discourse to deal with the problem and ensure more people in the country realize their potential. The author acknowledges that many societies are faced by the predicament because they have not understood it clearly. This lack of understanding is one of the reasons why it has been hard for different societies to deal with the problem.

The memoir indicates that poverty is associated with psychological problems that eventually result in various misbehaviors. Such malpractices make it hard for different communities to achieve their goals. Poverty remains one of the leading causes of stress and depression in the nation. Social deterioration increases and people begin to engage in misbehaviors that increase the impacts of poverty. This analysis raises the tone for discourse in an attempt to ensure more people deal with the hurdle successfully. When people are educated or informed about the causes of poverty, they will be better positioned to develop evidence-based strategies to deal with it.

The American society (and even the global community) is informed about the best measures to support the lives of different people. This is a debate that has been ignored over the years. The book appears to encourage people to come out and target the problem of poverty directly. This means that individuals will appreciate the sources and persistent nature of the predicament. They will be willing to identify some of the malpractices and past mistakes that have led to increased levels of poverty. This knowledge is outlined as one of best approaches that can be embraced by individuals to deal with poverty.

The events and experiences outlined by the author encourage people to focus on the psychological consequences of poverty. It is agreeable that different situations force people to make wrong economic choices. The approach worsens the problems and eventually increases the number of poor citizens in a given society. When this knowledge is understood, people will be ready to identify and implement powerful programs that can deal with poverty successfully. The consideration of various strategies is also described in the text. For instance, the author encourages people to consider issues such as work ethic and social integration. These practices can be tapped by individuals in order to promote the best action plans and economic activities.

The narrator’s experiences and achievements can be studied critically by neighborhoods that want to come up with better models for dealing with poverty. This is the case because the problem has persisted and made it impossible for many people to achieve their dreams in life. The author creates room for a meaningful debate that can play a positive role in transforming the actions and behaviors of more people in the country. The readers understand clearly that poverty is caused by people’s mistakes and inability to focus on appropriate goals.

Many people have failed to engage in different roles that have the potential to support or improve their lives. The book is a guideline that encourages family members to take good care of their children and meet their needs. People must not blame the government for the quandaries affecting them. Instead, they must learn to adapt to every new economic change or circumstance. They should work hard to acquire quality education, establish networks, and focus on the idea of social mobility.

Communities must be keen to study the issues associated with cultural change. When people are aware of such changes, they will be determined to pursue specific action plans that can eventually make their lives better. People must stop blaming things such as changing economies or lack of opportunities. They should engage in a wide range of activities and practices that can improve their communities. Every reader should therefore acknowledge that Vance has raised the tone of discourse. People should consider these teachings in an attempt to understand the true picture of poverty and why it has remained a nightmare in many American communities. This appreciation will catalyze evidence-based behaviors and actions that can support the welfare of many families and children.


The pride of the people described in Vance’s book appears to have encouraged them to become lazy. The sense of helplessness, increased levels of domestic violence, ineffective welfare system, and decline in work ethic have led to the problem of poverty in the neighborhood. The poor in the society have failed to embrace the behaviors associated with the wealthy such as networking habits. These malpractices should be tackled if more people in the nation are to lift themselves out of poverty. Through the use of such descriptions and attributes, Vance has managed to raise serious questions that must be answered by those who want to get rid of poverty.

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StudyCorgi. (2020, December 18). National Conversation about Poverty. Retrieved from

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"National Conversation about Poverty." StudyCorgi, 18 Dec. 2020,

1. StudyCorgi. "National Conversation about Poverty." December 18, 2020.


StudyCorgi. "National Conversation about Poverty." December 18, 2020.


StudyCorgi. 2020. "National Conversation about Poverty." December 18, 2020.


StudyCorgi. (2020) 'National Conversation about Poverty'. 18 December.

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