Class and Social Mobility
Hillbilly Elegy is a book about class, wealth, and social mobility. It focuses on the people who live in Appalachia, a region populated by coal miners, steel workers, and blue-collar laborers firmly in the middle and lower middle classes. Vance's primary goal in this memoir is to explain how people in Appalachia have fallen on such hard times. Many of them struggle to find well-paying jobs, and studies show that Appalachians are the least optimistic group in the United States when it comes to their futures. This wasn't always the case. Appalachia used to be an upwardly mobile region where people could find good jobs in manufacturing, but, with the decline of the coal and steel industries, it has become harder for families like the Vances to make ends meet. This has resulted in a trend of downward mobility that has depressed the region and stripped many of its residents of opportunity.
(The entire section is 841 words.)