In the short, personal memoir, “White Trash Primer,” Lacy M. Johnson talks about a girl’s life from childhood to her early adult life. Johnson begins her piece by talking about the girl’s childhood that seemed like an average child’s life growing up in a rural area. This girl grew up in a family where her family was constantly working hard on a farm to get by. As time went on, life’s circumstances changed. The child began to mature and the family was forced to move due to financial problems. From the move, the family went from owning a farm and selling corn and soy beans, to a family that was forced to work at Wal-Mart.
Depression eventually takes over the girl’s life and her lifestyle changed dramatically. Lack of money, rape, and loneliness filled the girl’s life which caused her to think of herself as being “white trash. ” Johnson states that she wants to “put metropolitan ideas about what it means to be rural into sharp belief”(Lori M. Myers). This memoir is a must read for any student that is capable of comprehending this material. Not only does this story give another look at the reality of being poor, but it also helps the audience stop their judgement of people that are suffering all around them.
Johnson offers a great story that is both devastating and inspiring. It is depressing to know the struggles that the main character was forced to go through, but inspiring to see the main character overcome the daily obstacles she was forced to deal with. While writing this piece, Johnson decided to use the Second Person point of view for a variety of reasons. She 2 wanted her audience to feel as if she was talking directly to them and to make the audience feel as if they were the person that was having to deal with these difficult times.
Not only did this technique force the readers to feel saddened from the circumstances, but is also made them feel many other different emotions like surprise, sadness, hatred, and contentment. The many different emotions that a person feels from the story come from within their own minds and souls. This memoir is a great piece for everyone to read because it offers a solution to many emotional problems that a reader may be having. For example, if a lady that is going through similar problems in her life, she will feel as if she is not alone.
This memoir might give that lady the little inspiration that she needed to help her get back up on her feet and try to succeed in her life. This memoir can also give a reader a completely different look at the world that they are living in. If a coldhearted, successful businessman picks up this piece and reads it, he might change his look on the poor. Instead of seeing the poor as being “white trash”, he might be able to see them as any ordinary person that is simply going through a rough time in their lives.
Since everyones lives are so different, I believe Johnson was trying to write this piece to help suit everyones emotional needs and she succeeded in doing so. Johnson states that she “loved the way it (the piece) straddled so many genres: poetry, essay, memoir, nonfiction, drama, short short fiction”(Amanda Auchter). Like she stated, her piece covered many different genres which attracted all different types of readers. Johnson believes that every reader takes something different from her piece, for this, she is grateful.
This memoir was a non fictional piece of work for Johnson. Many of the events that she wrote about happened in her life while she was growing up. Life was difficult for Johnson, but she was only looking for someone to take her seriously. “The whole time I was working at Wal-Mart, or 3 selling steaks door to door, or panhandling on a subway platform in Manhattan, or working in warehouses, what I really wanted was for someone to take me seriously” said Johnson in an online interview. She proves to be very proud of this particular memoir.
While reading “White Trash Primer,” it made me realize that one can not judge others by their appearance nor by their actions because people have no idea what others have gone through. Another great thing I took away from reading this memoir is that everyone looks at the same things, but in different ways. For example, the main character in Johnson’s memoir constantly went into Wal-Mart looking for a job. After applying six times, she finally got hired. Some might have seen her as being a pest or an interruption to the other employees, while others saw her as being a determined individual that knew what she wanted.
Everyone saw the same lady walking into the store, but all of their impressions were very different. Learning that everyone sees the world in a different manner then led to me wanting to be kind-hearted woman to everyone that I meet. Impressions are everything, so it is better to give a person the benefit of the doubt since their life stories are not revealed at the time they are seen. The last lesson I took away from reading Johnson’s piece is a person can go from living a comfortable life without the amenities, but with all the necessities, to a life where there is nothing at all.
There are certain events that happen in your life that can change your life completely. Johnson is not the only person who is extremely satisfied with this piece. Many of her readers feel the same joy. One of her readers by the name of Claudia Rankine writes on an online blog saying: I was riveted by this piece—written with the haunting interiority of poetry and the compelling drive of prose. Much like being caught in a novel by Faulkner or Morrison, I found myself thinking about large important issues without initially understanding how Lacy Johnson’s language carried me there. 4 Another reader, Melissa J.
Delbridge, writes: A haircut. A breakfast. A ride to school. An adolescent transgression. Lacy M. Johnson etches indelibly the texture of a life that is lovely, horrifying, and hallowed. Her writing is a marvel: a micro-sectioning of the simplest memory, a peeling and lifting of each layer to reveal new truths that the reader keeps recognizing. Focusing on being defined by class, Johnson simultaneously transcends it and presents us a primer on how to see as humans. From seeing all of the positive feedback from this memoir, I felt that this piece was truly a great piece since I wasn’t the only person who enjoyed reading it.
Johnson seems to have positive support from her readers, so this must encourage her to continue on with her writing. All in all, I recommend for everyone to read this memoir because it is written in a way that can change a person’s life. From reading this memoir, a person has nothing to lose, but can gain a new lifestyle, way of thinking, or even a better personality. With this memoir in a person’s mind, kindness can emerge even in the darkest of all people. This memoir is all about memories and seeing one another as being equal. As Lori M.
Myers states, “Whether you grew up in New Jersey as I did, or the rural Great Plains as did author Lacy M. Johnson, one’s childhood surroundings can’t help but seep into your pores and influence the way you view the world”(Lori M. Myers). In other words, where you grow up as a child is going to influence you no matter what you do or how hard you try to erase your past. We just have to learn to deal with the negative influences put upon us and stay trying hard for a better life. Life places many different obstacles in your life, it’s up to you to keep pushing forward. 5 Work Cited Auchter, Amanda.
“Previous Issue: Spring/Summer 2012. ” Pebble Lake Review: Previous Issue. Pebble Lake Review, 2012. Web. 02 May 2013. Delbridge, Melissa J. “Re: Trespasses: A Memoir. ” Web log comment. Trespasses: A Memoir. University of Iowa Press, Mar. 2012. Web. 3 May 2013. Myers, Lori M. “Interview: Lacy M. Johnson, Author of Trespasses: A Memoir. ” Hippocampus Magazine Creative Nonfiction Literary Magazine. Hippo Campus Magazine, 2013. Web. 02 May 2013. Rankine, Claudia. “Re: Praise for Tresspasses. ” Weblog comment. Trespasses: A Memoir. University of Iowa Press, Mar. 2012. Web. 3 May 2013.
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