Hillbilly Elegy

Uncle Jimmy Character Analysis

J.D.’s uncle, and Bev’s older brother. Despite the toxic domestic environment created by Mamaw and Papaw’s constant fighting, Jimmy found a way to graduate high school, attend night school, and attain a sales job with Johnson & Johnson. Like J.D.’s Aunt Wee, he managed to establish a stable life, one that Vance references and calls upon throughout the memoir, holding it up as an example of the kind of rare success available to determined Appalachian individuals. Although Jimmy is a levelheaded and kind person, he remains to this day unwilling to speak to Bev, who he believes is irresponsible and selfish.

Uncle Jimmy Quotes in Hillbilly Elegy

The Hillbilly Elegy quotes below are all either spoken by Uncle Jimmy or refer to Uncle Jimmy. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Hillbilly Identity Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Harper Collins edition of Hillbilly Elegy published in 2017.
Chapter 2 Quotes

Within two generations, the transplanted hillbillies had largely caught up to the native population in terms of income and poverty level. Yet their financial success masked their cultural unease, and if my grandparents caught up economically, I wonder if they ever truly assimilated. They always had one foot in the new life and one foot in the old one. They slowly acquired a small number of friends but remained strongly rooted in their Kentucky homeland.

Related Characters: J.D. Vance (speaker), Mamaw, Papaw , Bev Vance, Aunt Wee (Lori Vance) , Uncle Jimmy
Page Number: 36
Explanation and Analysis:

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Uncle Jimmy Character Timeline in Hillbilly Elegy

The timeline below shows where the character Uncle Jimmy appears in Hillbilly Elegy. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
The Hillbilly Identity Theme Icon
...to get used to their new life. In 1951 they had their first boy, Vance’s Uncle Jimmy . For a while they achieved something like domestic bliss, but things didn’t always work... (full context)
Chapter 3
Upward Mobility and Personal Agency Theme Icon
Politics and the Economy Theme Icon
After Uncle Jimmy , Mamaw and Papaw had two more children: Vance’s mother Bev and his Aunt Wee... (full context)
Upward Mobility and Personal Agency Theme Icon
Uncle Jimmy left the house when he turned eighteen and secured a job at Armco. This left... (full context)