If you are unsure if you’re a privileged person or an unprivileged one, you should look to the politics and ask yourself if political decisions influence you or not. If you estimate that politics doesn’t influence you, than you may consider yourself a privileged one. This is the method Edouard Louis uses to see who is privileged who is not in his book called “Who killed my father?”.
Edouard Louis shares his memories about his father in his book. His desire is to tell the stories of those who come from his childhood. Edouard Louis also says that he couldn’t afford a fiction taking into account his past, his body, his experience as a whole and his feeling of emergency was huge and he just estimates that telling a real “documentary” story was more urgent than writing a fiction. It is about his relationship with his father. His father was raised in a working-class environment where hyper-masculinity was the norm. There were a lot of cliches that shaped his father’s personality: “a real man should not talk much or express his emotions”, “faggots are not men and are bad”, “studying is bad and therefore rebelling against the school or university is masculine” and so on. Edouard Louis is giving details about the social and the psychological violence that the working-class is facing on day-to-day basis.
At the same time, the violence is what saved Edouard in a way, because he managed to question things and take the social elevator and go a little bit up. Edouard is gay and grew up in a pretty homophobic milieu. When Edouard Louis comes to Paris for his studies, he finds out that he wants so deeply to be like those, the rich, the bourgeois. He says in his interview with London Review Bookshop that he wanted to have the same body language and go to the Opera House the way others do. He says he was able to give anything to be like them. Edouard understands quickly that he is not accepted by the bourgeoisie and is not like them at all. This may be linked to many factors: Edouard and his family don’t have the same economical and cultural capital as those who are bourgeois. The milieu that shaped Edouard’s family is the antidote of that of the bourgeois. For example, Edouard and his father used to feel very humiliated and inferior when they happened to encounter educated and rich people. In a way, that kind of an encounter was also an indirect violence towards Edouard and his father. Considering the privileged lives others enjoy, feeling the existence of a border between them and others is also a social violence that Edouard and his family faced.
Edouard Louis’ father’s life is condemned by all the brutality of the politics. This brutality of politics influenced Edouard Louis’ fathers’s body and shortened his life by several decades. His father’s life depends on a machine and, additionally, because he had been injured in a factory he is barely capable to walk. The same brutality has bad repercussions on political choices too: E. Louis says that people coming from his milieu often hesitate between the left wing and the far-right political movements and at the same this is something very unusual in the dominant class, because the middle and the upper middle classes are usually less unstable when it comes to their political views.
“Who killed my father?” is also a multi-layered view on the sociological reality of the society in general and on the working-class milieu in particular. The reality of love and relationships are deeply influenced by the same social violence that this family was facing: showing love and tenderness was what Edouard was naturally looking for as a child, but his father was forced by the social stigmas to think that showing love is not masculine and so Edouard was receiving the love he needed in mostly unexpected ways: once his father bought a VHS of Titanic, although he was ashamed of his son’s choice and so on. The artificially constructed masculine society imposed supplementary psychological pressure on Edouard’s father: he was ashamed to dance in spite of the fact that he used to love it as a young adult and was less talkative, because of the stigma. The system has stolen a lot from his father and his father’s way of being is the reaction to that “systematic abuse” that he went through.
“Who killed my father” explores the way of being and the life of those individuals who suffer in the most severe way the oppressive and neglectful social systems in which we live. Without Edouard Louis talking and writing about it, we may not have had the opportunity to have a glance at this part of the society that suffers the most, that is the most vulnerable and the most politically neglected and manipulated part of the society. In this sense, this part of the society is the one participates the most in the Gilets Jaunes social movement and in other manifestations against the social reforms in France.