Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right Character List
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Written by Timothy Sexton
Arlie Russell Hochschild
The author of the text appears as a character in the sense of interacting with the Louisiana residents she meets as well as being the referential “I” of the first person narrative perspective. Hochschild applies her own sociological framework as a means of establishing an analysis of the factual data attained through a hands-on approach to meeting the subjects of her study.
It was not until her tenth trip to Louisiana to meet with the subjects of her study that Donald Trump entered into discourse. As the author would reserve in retrospect, all the signs pointing to the unexpected assumption of Trump as the face of American conservatism had slowly been put into place long before it occurred. The situation is compared to a kindling which possesses all the potential devastating power of a wildfire scorching through a forest, but which remains harmless until the match is struck. Trump is painted as the match which ignited the fire, but makes it clear that the kindling had been waiting there long before he lit the match.
If Trump is viewed as the savior who came along to strike that match and burn the forest down, Barack Obama is viewed as the forest ranger who kicked white conservatives out and handed the forest over to anybody wasn’t them. In this sense, the blaze into which the kindling erupts after ignition is cause for celebration twice over: it finally got lit and now it will burn down the corrupted forest and set things back to how it was—and how it should be. Obama is painted throughout the book as an unchristian, un-American mystery whose leap from nobody to President can only be explained through wild conspiracy theories and who, once in office instilled an agenda devoted to destroying capitalism.
Tabor was named after the First Lady of JFK and still looks to the Kennedy’s with admiration. At the same time, the forty-something “obedient Christian wife” believes that Obama is not a true American, denies the existence of global warning and most memorably asserts that the price to be paid for capitalism in American is the pollution of the environment. She credits God with changing her life from growing up poor to driving her kids to school in an SUV through one of the most upscale neighborhoods in town.
The first character introduced in the book is Mike Schaff and he is introduced as a victim of one of the most devastating environmental disasters in the history of Louisiana; an environmental disaster with a cause directly linked to lack of regulatory controls. The image of Schaff standing on the steps of the state capital speaking in a voice cracking with emotion while describing a sinkhole swallowing his home and entire groves of enormous trees juxtaposed with the image of Schaff vociferously voicing opposition to imposition of tougher regulation of energy industries sets the stage of what the author terms the Great Paradox. That term refers to conservatives who consistently adopt political positions directly in opposition to what would serve their own best interests.
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Study Guide for Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right
Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right study guide contains a biography of Arlie Russell Hochschild, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.