The Poverty And Social Justice Folklore In Appalachia, A Region In The Eastern United States Of America
Appalachia is a region where poverty permeates every aspect of life, from the family to employment. Appalachia’s poverty is a constant theme in everyday life, from family life to finding a job.
In the past folklore was often used to describe an old-fashioned culture. Many people thought that modernization had tainted folklore in the past and actively avoided it. Over time, folklore began to represent the lives of ordinary people living in the New World. The study of folklore began to include modernization. The study of folklore can give voice to culturally underrepresented groups and enact changes.
Jack Tales make up a large part of Appalachia’s folklore. The tales usually feature a young Jack, who overcomes obstacles with his wits. Jack had a streak of uncanny good fortune that was featured in many tales. His obstacles usually reflect the harsh reality that many Appalachians faced, like poverty. Jack Tales are unlike the traditional American Fairytale in that they do not emphasize honesty or hard work.
Kevin Cordi talks about the poverty that he saw in Appalachia. He also discusses what people thought of him. Kevin Cordi talks about his family’s inability to afford expensive clothing, and how a child named Nathan called Kevin Cordi a “dirty Hillbilly” when he noticed the hole in his jeans. Not knowing what he meant, Kevin Cordi asked his mother about it. She said that, sometimes, it’s easier just to assume someone is like than actually get to learn them. He tells of another time when his sister requested that their mother pick them up at the back of school so as to not be mistaken for a “redneck” by the other kids. Kevin Cordi was able to discover the origins of “red neck” when he talked with an actual “redneck”. In West Virginia’s 1930s, miners used to wear red scarves for solidarity against mineowners. Sharecroppers back in 1800s also got red necks because of their labor. Kevin Cordi then asked him “Since When did Dirt Get a Bad Name?”.
In the story “Jack goes Hunting”, Jack describes what he had to do to get food. Jack and his parents lived in a mountain house, but Jack did little to help. Jack’s father was not wealthy and so his family had to hunt to survive. Jack’s dad became frustrated with Jack for not doing anything and took action. Jack’s dad told him, as they were looking at the rabbit tracks in the early morning, that “at the end of this path, there is your food.” That meant Jack had to work to get the things he needed, rather than have them handed to. Jack started to follow rabbit tracks with his gun, but he soon noticed that there were wild turkeys in the sky above him. Jack fired at the tree branch, causing the crack. The wild turkeys started beating on each other using their wings. Jack managed to catch all the turkeys without much effort. Then, Jack went down to a hill where the wild boars and grizzlys were fighting.
Jack pulled the bear inside out by grabbing the tail. Jack hid in a tree behind which he could defend himself. Jack grabbed his rock and smacked the boar’s head with it, killing him instantly. While he was walking, he noticed five wild geese. He was about to fire at the wild ducks and geese when he spotted a snake in the grass. Jack aims at the serpent, but misses. His bullet bounces around the ground, and his weapon explodes. Jack then falls into the river. The barrel flies up into the sky and kills the five wild goose while the stock flies down and kills the five ducks. As he stood, he saw that his overalls had been filled with fish. The weight caused his overall button to pop off. This hit the rabbit who was following him in the right head. When the bullet hit the snake’s head, it stopped ricocheting. Jack, who brought two bullets to the hunting ground, got nine turkeys, one bear, one wild boar, 5 wild ducks, 5 wild geese and a snake. His overalls were full of fish. Jack brought back all of his wild game to his family, and was gratified that he had helped out. This story shows that hard work is valued in Appalachia.
Songs of Appalachia feature themes of poverty and hardship. “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive”, written by Darrel, is a good example. The blue-grass style of this song has strong associations with Appalachia. The song talks of Harlan County, Kentucky. Many people there were living in poverty. Harlan, a coal-mining town in Kentucky, was home to many who were trapped by poverty.
Because so many people have experienced poverty, it has been incorporated into many folklore tales. This is because the songs and stories are relatable to people, who often face the same challenges.