Hillbilly Elegy

J.D.’s wife, formerly one of his fellow students at Yale Law School. Usha and Vance started dating while they were still in the program, a relationship that eventually led to marriage. Vance frequently turns to Usha for guidance in navigating the upper-middle-class environment in which he now lives. Though she respects his working-class background, she helps him leave behind the bad habits instilled in him by hillbilly culture, such as his tendency to quickly respond to adversity with intense anger. When they were first becoming serious as a couple, they had to work through Vance’s poor conflict resolution skills; at the first sign of an argument, he would shut down and remove himself from the situation. This was because he had only ever seen adults abuse one another (verbally or physically) during disagreements, and he didn’t want this to happen with Usha. Fortunately, Usha helped him see that this was not a productive way to approach difficult situations, ultimately bringing him around to the idea that it is okay to encounter conflicts in a relationship and that healthy conversation is, in fact, always an option.
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Usha Character Timeline in Hillbilly Elegy

The timeline below shows where the character Usha appears in Hillbilly Elegy. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 13
Upward Mobility and Personal Agency Theme Icon
Religion and Education Theme Icon
While at Yale, Vance fell in love with one of his fellow law students, Usha. He describes her as intelligent, direct, and infinitely knowledgeable not only about the world, but... (full context)
Upward Mobility and Personal Agency Theme Icon
Religion and Education Theme Icon
In addition to Usha’s advice, Vance experienced more tangible forms of social capital, too. For example, every August, Yale... (full context)
Upward Mobility and Personal Agency Theme Icon
Religion and Education Theme Icon
...the clerkship for the right reasons, advising him instead to focus on his relationship with Usha while figuring out a career path that made more sense. Vance listened to her, and... (full context)
Chapter 14
The Hillbilly Identity Theme Icon
Upward Mobility and Personal Agency Theme Icon
In Vance’s second year of law school, things were going well, but his relationship with Usha was showing signs of distress due to his hesitancy to open up to her. After... (full context)
Chapter 15
Upward Mobility and Personal Agency Theme Icon
Religion and Education Theme Icon
...his family heirlooms to buy drugs. So Vance drove from Cincinnati—where he was living with Usha, whom he’d recently married—and paid for his mother to stay in a motel room. He... (full context)
The Hillbilly Identity Theme Icon
Upward Mobility and Personal Agency Theme Icon
One day Vance was driving with Usha when another car cut them off. At the next stoplight, Vance opened his door and... (full context)