The Stereotypes Of Appalachia In America

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“But us hillbillies, we don’t bother nobody. We go out of our way to help people. We don’t want nobody pushin’ us around. Now, that’s the code of the hills.”
Towards the end of the nineteenth century Appalachia became characterized as region detached from the rest of America, our country’s geographic neighborhood with its own sub-culture, and “a place that seems like something out of another country.” Due to a great deal of myths regarding the isolation and behavior of its inhabitants, it can be said that no other region in the America has been subject to as much stereotyping as Appalachia. It has been labeled as “a land of backwardness, poverty, hopelessness, and violence.” For many Americans the mentioning of Appalachia stirs up “images of drunken hillbillies, rednecks, feudists, and moonshiners. Its residents are supposedly people who are eccentric, illiterate, lazy, and hard-drinking.” One of the latest and most disturbing stereotypes of the region’s inhabitants that emerged from the media is the practice of incest as a cultural norm.
The event in Appalachian history that holds the greatest notoriety is a fatal family feud that occurred inside the Tug River Valley during the late nineteenth-century. Within this valley was the border between West Virginia and Kentucky and two families resided here, the Hatfields from West Virginia and the McCoys of Kentucky. This feud may be the most notorious and familiar to Americans, but many are unaware of the truth, which is masked by the legends and myths surrounding it. This embellished and folkloric version of the feud is portrayed in books, television, and movies until this day, despite the emergence of the accurate works of historians on the true events of the feud. Altina L....

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...reatment of these workers by the railroad corporations such as working in highly dangerous conditions while receiving very minimal pay. In this sense culture and ethnicity played a different role from the two previous chapters in how the area confronted social change.
This is not an attempt to defend the violent behavior of Appalachia’s residents. By examining a few significant events, it is rather an attempt to explain the complex causes for the violence and how there were underlying implications. In doing so we will find a better understanding for the history of intense violence that began after the Civil War and lasted until the 1920s. In addition, this will help us to uncover the origins of the Appalachian stereotype and that has continued to develop over the past century, beginning with the dark and bloody history of Breathitt County, Kentucky.

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