Hillbilly Elegy

Bob Hamel Character Analysis

One of Bev’s husbands, who she married after divorcing Don Bowman. Bob officially adopted J.D. and treated him and Lindsay well, but Mamaw disliked him because he came from the same social class she did. Vance writes that Mamaw hated him because of “the parts of him that most resembled her,” meaning that she was disappointed her daughter didn’t marry somebody who might represent the first step toward upward mobility. And although their marriage was initially peaceful, Bev and Bob started fighting both verbally and physically. J.D. even punched Bob in the face once in order to defend his mother. When he found out that Bev was having an affair, Bob divorced her and moved away, and it soon became clear that he would not remain involved in J.D.’s life, despite the fact that he had become the boy’s official father.
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Bob Hamel Character Timeline in Hillbilly Elegy

The timeline below shows where the character Bob Hamel appears in Hillbilly Elegy. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 5
The Hillbilly Identity Theme Icon
Upward Mobility and Personal Agency Theme Icon
Religion and Education Theme Icon
...husband, but they split up shortly after Vance was born. Not long afterward, Bev married Bob Hamel, who was kind to her children and legally adopted J.D. Nevertheless, Mamaw strongly disapproved... (full context)
Upward Mobility and Personal Agency Theme Icon
When Vance was nine, his home life deteriorated because his mother and Bob decided to move away from Middletown, thereby cutting him off from Mamaw and Papaw, the... (full context)
Upward Mobility and Personal Agency Theme Icon
...driveway. He learned that she had come because Bev had attempted to commit suicide after Bob discovered she was having an affair and demanded a divorce. In response, Bev drove her... (full context)
Chapter 6
The Hillbilly Identity Theme Icon
...partners continued to come in and out of Vance’s life, and it became clear that Bob Hamel had no intention of keeping up with his role as J.D.’s adoptive father. Sensing... (full context)