Strangers in Their Own Land

Strangers in Their Own Land

by

Arlie Russell Hochschild

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Strangers in Their Own Land: Chapter 10 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Hochschild visits Janice Areno, who is clearly a Republican, as her office is filled with elephant statues of all colors, shapes and sizes. Janice is an accountant at a land management company and also Harold and Annette Areno’s niece. She “dresses Pentecostal,” without jewelry or makeup, and has a “direct, forceful, usually good-humored” personality. Janice’s desk is covered in her friends’ taxes—she explains to Hochschild that she does them as a courtesy—and the pair jokes about football teams before Hochschild declares that Janice’s real “home team” is the Republican Party and “her loyalty to it defines her world.” Janice is 61 and unmarried but focuses her energy on caring for her enormous extended family and her job, where she “is usually the last to leave the office at night.”
Again, Hochschild introduces a person by exploring the spaces he or she cherishes the most—while Mike Schaff and Harold Areno cherish their childhood homes and Madonna Massey cherishes church, Janice Areno cherishes work. Unlike the normative Tea Party women Hochschild profiled at the end of the last chapter, Janice Areno is proud of her hard work and has no desire to become a housewife. Janice surrounds herself with material reminders of her values and affiliations, like her modest dress and the elephant statues. Unlike people like Lee Sherman and her uncle Harold, Janice puts party before belief—while others often reluctantly voted Republican because that party was closer to their own conservative beliefs (but still far from perfect on issues like oil and the environment), Janice is loyal to the party itself, above and beyond any particular policy it advocates.
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Janice drives Hochschild from her office to her old school in Sulphur, Louisiana. She talks about her “poor but happy” childhood and almost 100 first cousins. Janice explains that she has worked continuously since age eight and is deeply proud of her endurance. Hochschild sees this endurance as a practice, a sort of emotional labor that is “a tacit form of heroism” for Janice.
While Janice never married, she still feels a sense of pride in the emotional labor of caring for her family, which remains the core community unit in her life. Her endurance is a way of demonstrating her commitment to that family.
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Hochschild describes “three distinct expressions of this endurance self.” She calls these three varieties the Worshipper, the Cowboy, and the Team Loyalist. Each has their own kind of heroism, but they converge in their emphasis on endurance. Team Loyalists support the goals of their “team,” the Republican Party; a Worshipper “sacrifices a strong wish”; and a Cowboy “affirms a fearless self.” Janice exemplifies the Team Loyalist.
The endurance self is the core of conservative cultural ideology, the same concept of self that was pushed out of the national mainstream during and after the civil rights movements of the 1960s and 1970s. In the following chapters Hochschild will explore the Worshipper and the Cowboy. Team Loyalists like Janice endure hardship for the sake of a larger collective; her group memberships define her identity.
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Janice and Hochschild go to Janice’s church, where they drop off plates and cups for a fundraising dinner to benefit members of the military fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Unlike her father, who left school at age ten to work, Janice has a BA. Her father managed to work his way up in the oil company Citgo despite his lack of education. Janice is proud that he never needed government help.
Despite Janice’s disdain for government, there is one national institution she actually goes out of her way to support: the military. Her father’s trajectory exemplifies the ideal of the American Dream, in which hard work can even make up for a lack of education.
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Next, they go to Janice’s childhood church, and she explains that this is where she learned about the “honor of work” by cleaning out the entire building twice a week. In college, she worked 40 hours a week on top of school. She is proud to have never taken money from the federal government, which Hochschild explains was a common “source of honor” in Louisiana. She complains about all the people she knows who have taken advantage of welfare, disability, and unemployment benefits. But her sense of honor is not about having money, ability, or meaningful work—rather, it is about working hard. Janice thinks that liberals underappreciate “personal morality”—they forget the value of hard work, are not “churched,” support abortion and same-sex marriage, and make her feel like “a stranger in her own land.”
Again, church appears as a cornerstone of cultural life in Louisiana—it transmits moral values and cultural honor, and Janice despises the left precisely because it rejects these values and interprets cultural honor differently. She values work for its own sake, which means that people who choose to take government money instead of working are not only shamefully failing to support themselves and cheating hardworking citizens out of their tax money, but also depriving themselves of a valuable opportunity for personal growth.
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Janice thinks that people should take risky work in stride and she complains that her brothers’ coworkers refused to work when their company failed to give them milk, which supposedly helped protect against the health dangers of aluminum fumes. Hochschild suggests that she has “a company perspective.”
Janice thinks that her brothers’ coworkers are trying to get out of work rather than being genuinely concerned about their safety—she seems to assume that people are lazy until they prove themselves otherwise.
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Government Regulation and Individual Freedom Theme Icon
Janice sees even hard but meaningless work as honorable because it disciplines people—if there are no jobs, she says, people should start “working on the highways” and tiring themselves out so they “wouldn’t be out drinking or doing drugs” at night, and she thinks the United States should create jobs by relocating World War II veterans’ graves back home from France. She sees “a positive side to the war” in the manufacturing jobs it creates at home.
Janice’s praise for meaningless work takes a faith in capitalism to the extreme: she actually wants to create new needs in order to force people to work to resolve them. In fact, her proposals actually exemplify the kind of massive government “high road” spending that her beloved Republican Party tends to reject as an economic solution.
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She says she understands that welfare makes it “not worth it to get a real job” but complains that she has seen people “driving up in Lexus cars” to bring their kids to a government-funded Head Start program. Janice acknowledges that “some people think I’m too hard-nosed,” but she declares that, “if people refuse to work, we should let them starve. Let them be homeless.”
Actually, Hochschild shows that the majority of welfare recipients’ money comes from work (Appendix C). Janice puts such an emphasis on work that she thinks it should be a condition for survival—people who do not work, for her, deserve nothing. Janice refuses to show empathy for people who do not work.
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Hochschild asks whether she thinks there should be welfare for children in poverty, but Janice proposes that it’s the children’s responsibility to get themselves educated, “churched,” and out of poverty. She also suggests sterilizing poor women “after one or two children” and fundamentally opposes redistribution because she thinks inequality reflects destiny—the rich are rich, in Janice’s mind, because they work harder.
Janice believes so strongly in the capitalist idea that people are self-sufficient, independent economic actors—the same idea that underlies the picture of waiting in line for the American dream—that she  thinks even children do not deserve government help. Her sterilization proposal is an example of how conservatives’ desire to preserve their own economic freedom leads them to discount others’ personal freedom, especially when those others (probably) do not look like them.
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Janice feels that the government also “does too much and owns too much.” She thinks it should run the military, manage roads and waterways, and keep only a few national parks as public lands. It restricts guns too much, she says—“if everyone had a gun and ammunition” in the Middle East, Janice argues, people would “solve their own differences” and create democracies. Hochschild notes that many Louisianans panicked after Obama’s election, when they started to suspect that “he would take away people’s guns,” and stores started selling out of ammunition.
Janice effectively wants to export Louisiana culture globally: she thinks that minimal government and permissive gun laws are the keys to an effective democracy (even though Louisiana’s own democracy is crumbling and it is unclear how starting wars constitutes starting democracies). Louisianans’ immediate distrust of Obama leads them to take extreme action even though he never actually claimed or tried to take away people’s guns.
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Janice also thinks there are too many federal workers—many of the people Hochschild interviewed estimated that around 40% of Americans work for the government, but the real number is 1.9%. Janice recalls examples of wasteful government spending she saw on Fox News, like a half-billion dollars invested in solar company, an EPA employee who watched pornography on his shift, and an artist who got government funding to paint the Virgin Mary with cow dung. Janice says that “we’re a free country […] but not that free” and suggests that an artist should be allowed to paint such a picture—but not given government funding to do it.
Again, Hochschild does not say it outright, but Janice’s feelings get in the way of facts—she begins with suspicion of the government, finds a few extreme examples that can justify her stance, and uses those examples to argue for doing away with virtually all government. Janice’s statement that “we’re a free country […] but not that free” demonstrates how the concept of freedom is mutable to different political contexts—she believes that her offense at the artwork is enough to justify throwing it out, too.
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Janice is concerned not only about “the moral laxity of the Democrats,” but more crucially about “the imposition of such laxity on her.” For instance, she sees Chaz Bono as “forcing his way of living on me” by suggesting that his childhood would have been easier if he had not suffered from prejudice. Janice does not mind if people “go be gay if you want to,” but she does not want people “shouting it from the mountaintops.” She sees hatred for the Tea Party as the “consensus in liberal Hollywood.”
It is unclear why, exactly, Chaz Bono is “forcing” his lifestyle on Janice by explaining that he would have rather not suffered discrimination—unless, that is, Janice sees anti-gay discrimination as part of her own “way of living.” However, her disdain for Bono probably more fundamentally relates to the fact that he calls for discrimination to end instead of enduring it. She sees discrimination and pain as things to be honorably endured, whereas he sees them as problems to solve.
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Related Quotes
Hochschild asks about industrial pollution; Janice mentions the devastated Bayou d’Inde and how it saddens her. But she thinks the petrochemical plants across Louisiana and even the toxic waste landfill a block from her home are worth it because “they make what we need.” Hochschild explains that a Team Player like Janice chooses to “suck it up and just cope” with problems, like toxic waste landfills, that are not of their own making.
Janice does not deny the reality of pollution but rather endures it for a higher good—her loyalty to party, industry, and family. While the plants do make useful things, there is no reason they need to be in her backyard. Her response follows from her emotional self-interest in enduring hardship, which she sees as honorable, rather than avoiding it, which she considers cowardly.
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She tells Hochschild a “shocking” story about her nephew Dicky, who came face-to-face with pollution, and Hochschild insists on meeting him. When they meet at Janice’s aunt’s house, Dicky tells Hochschild about one day he was riding his horse, Ted, in the 1950s. Ted fell into a ditch he could have usually jumped over and started sinking into the water. When Dicky’s uncle finally pulled Ted out of the water, “he was coated all over with a strange film” that was “like rubber.” Ted died a couple days later—and it turned out that there was a polymer plant upstream from the ditch. But Janice “doesn’t allow her sadness to interfere with her loyalty to industry,” in the case of Ted’s accident or even the Citgo explosion she saw as a child. She insists that today’s industry is complying with regulations.
Yet again, Hochschild realizes that the current debates and silences about pollution in Louisiana actually have much longer and more shocking histories than she first expects. As most other Louisianans, Janice sees a forced choice between industry and the environment, and she chooses to side squarely with the former, even falsely claiming that current industry is compliance to retroactively justify her loyalty. Ted’s death is a shocking, graphic example of how unregulated industry infringes on people’s (and their animals’) freedom from harm. 
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Janice drives Hochschild to her “barn,” the dream retirement home she has been building from scratch.  She has stocked ponds with catfish, and her sisters built a rock garden with elephant statues out front. Janice has made space for plenty of relatives in case they ever need to move in with her. The estate has spaces for animals to live and even a “rodeo arena.”
Janice’s insistence on building her own retirement home is unsurprising—after all, she has always refused to take help, even if she is willing to give her family the help they need. As Bayou Corne was for Mike Schaff, Janice seems to see the “barn” as a kind of idealized private universe.
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Hochschild notices “how the deep story makes sense” for Janice, as someone who has “made it out of the structural squeeze” and reached economic security through hard work and endurance. But this endurance required Janice to cope with “anxiety that now felt like second nature” and focus disproportionately on the positives of capitalism, to which she felt so loyal for offering her a livelihood. Yet she feels as though she must defend her loyalty against the liberal coastal culture that advances “false notions of the good and the true.” She also needs to defend her “rooted” endurance self, which is “based in a busy, dense, stable community of relatives, co-parishioners, and friends” against the liberal “cosmopolitan self” that was “uprooted, loosely attached to an immediate community,” focused on living diversely rather than in the proper moral fashion. Hochschild suggests that this is “frightening” for Janice.
Although the American Dream is stalling for many Louisianans, Janice has indubitably found her own through endurance. It is therefore unsurprising that she clings so closely to an endurance-centric concept of personal honor and remains so loyal to capitalism. But this kind of self also stunts her emotionally, rendering her unable to fully accept the downsides of industry and leaving her with the near-constant anxiety of someone who is accustomed to silently enduring suffering for the sake of a team goal. Perhaps this baseline anxiety informs her interpretation of the cosmopolitan self’s call for diversity as a call to destroy her way of life.
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After a couple of years, Janice’s sister—who started suffering “a debilitating autoimmune disease” as the result of toxic exposure at the Olin Chemical plant where she worked—moves into the “barn.” Janice is developing a pollution-related disease, too. She invites the whole family over for monthly cookouts—once, Janice notes with pride, 67 relatives showed up. She recognizes that the nearby Sasol plant might affect her town but does not worry too much: “things happen.” And “an object of great loyalty” still punctuates her front lawn: an elephant statue, “pudgy, white foot midair, tusks and trunk aloft.”
Tragically, pollution finally catches up with Janice and her sister, as it did with other generations of Arenos before them. She continues to take pride in her rooted commitment to her family and her commitment to the Republican Party. As for the chemical industry that made her sick, it seems that Janice’s loyalty has endured despite the Sasol expansion.
Themes
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Personal Identity and Emotional Self-Interest Theme Icon