​2018 Spring Campus Book Discussion: Hillbilly Elegy

Social Responsibility

This chapter describes what happens to the author after he graduates from Yale Law School.  He marries the love of his life, Usha, and explains what it feels like to have achieved the American dream, but still be tied to one’s past, specifically his mother. He finds himself helping his drug-addicted mom get back on her feet after once again getting into trouble because of  drugs. He expresses compassion for her and acknowledges the role fortune has had in his success.  He acknowledges that his ability to achieve the American Dream was a result of a combination of factors, including:  1) help from his grandparents 2) the men in his life 3) love of education and learning and  4) the care given to him by his sister, other relatives and friends.  He quotes a good friend of his who said, "The best way to look at this might be to recognize that you probably can't fix [the problems of the working poor].  They'll always be around.  But maybe you can put your thumb on the scale a little for the people at the margins" (238).   Vance acknowledges there were many "thumbs" on his scale.

Dreams and the Social Contract

This is a short video of Vance with his wife Usha describing how they met and what the future holds for them.


Social Contract Theories
Social Minimum

Food for Thought

Should special privileges or allowances be given to the poor to provide opportunities for social advancement?

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