Arlie Russell Hochschild
The author is a renowned American sociologist and Professor Emerita at the University of California, Berkeley. Hochschild travels to Louisiana over five years in an effort to understand the emotional underpinnings of Tea Party conservatism… read analysis of Arlie Russell Hochschild
The 45th President of the United States appears in Hochschild’s book during his campaign for office, and specifically during his rally in New Orleans just before the Louisiana primary that he won. He was a… read analysis of Donald Trump
President Barack Obama
The 44th President of the United States, who was in office for the duration of Hochschild’s fieldwork in Louisiana. Many Tea Partiers saw Obama as both himself a ‘cutter’ in the line for the American… read analysis of President Barack Obama
A conservative white Louisiana resident who Hochschild describes as an outgoing insurance saleswoman. Galicia’s father abandoned her family when she was young, and Hochschild notes that Galicia could have benefited from paid family leave during… read analysis of Sharon Galicia
An aging, politically independent “marine biologist and environmental activist” who Hochschild interviews and follows to protests. He and Donny McCorquodale like to get into heated discussions about politics and the environment at Brother Cappy’s… read analysis of Mike Tritico
A successful, “gifted” gospel singer and “caring mother of two” who grew up in the “poorest town in America” and is widely beloved in Lake Charles, where she now lives. Massey is deeply dedicated to… read analysis of Madonna Massey
A former PPG pipe fitter who was ordered to illegally dump toxic waste into the bayou, got sick from the exposure he suffered while doing so, and was ordered to go on medical leave and… read analysis of Lee Sherman
A 77-year-old Cajun man whose family has lived off the land at the Bayou d’Inde for three generations. He is Annette Areno’s husband and Janice Areno’s uncle. Harold was a pipefitter at… read analysis of Harold Areno
The 46-year-old son of Harold and Annette, and a pipefitter like his father. Derwin cannot remember a time when the bayou was not seriously polluted, and his parents are frightened that he is willing… read analysis of Derwin Areno
The directors of Pittsburgh Plate Glass, which runs a petrochemical plant in DeRidder, have close ties to the local and state governments. At a community meeting in 1987 they pretended not to know how the… read analysis of PPG Management
A Lieutenant General in the Army and environmental activist who took Hochschild up the Mississippi river while he was running for Governor of Louisiana. “The General” famously led the rescue effort during Hurricane Katrina and… read analysis of Russel Honoré
The mayor of Westlake, Louisiana when his city receives a $21 billion investment by South African petrochemical company Sasol. Hardey is ecstatic about Sasol’s investment and even claims to have helped his son move… read analysis of Bob Hardey
A large South African petrochemical company that plans to invest in a massive petrochemical construction project in Westlake. While the local and state governments tout Sasol’s investment as a boon to the Louisiana economy, Westlake… read analysis of Sasol
Harold and Annette Areno’s niece, an accountant who Hochschild profiles in Chapter 10. Janice is so loyal to the Republican Party that she collects elephant statues—she exemplifies the Team Loyalist subtype of the… read analysis of Janice Areno
A 43-year-old homemaker who lives as an “obedient Christian wife” to her husband Heath along with their two children and dogs in a wealthy suburb of Lake Charles. Jackie grew up in a toxic family… read analysis of Jackie Tabor
A friend of Brother Cappy and Mike Tritico, who rebelled against his strict religious upbringing during his youth but is now loved for his “spontaneous acts of kindness” and daredevil embrace of danger. He… read analysis of Donny McCorquodale
The mother-in-law of one of Hochschild’s former graduate students. Cappel first introduced Hochschild to Louisiana and housed her in Lake Charles.
A close friend of Sally Cappel’s since college. The two could not be more different politically: Sally is a “progressive Democrat” and Shirley is “an enthusiast for the Tea Party and Donald Trump.”
Harold’s wife, who is also a cancer survivor and works as a janitor at nearby high school.
An activist and member of the organization Riverkeepers who lives in a cabin near the Sabine river, tries to sustain the memory of the indigenous peoples who once lived in the area, and hosts groups of “prayer warriors” who assemble to pray for the river.
A mother and bookkeeper who lives near a petrochemical plant and worries constantly about the possibility of an accident.
A 73-year-old chemical physicist and former Louisiana State University professor who also headed the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality for four years and oversaw a remarkable decline in pollution. He debunks many of the oil industry’s myths for Hochschild in Chapter 5.
Louisiana’s Republican Governor from 2008-2016. Jindal drastically educed taxes on the oil industry, cutting 30,000 public sector jobs and taking over $1 billion from schools and hospitals to compensate. He denies—or, more precisely, refuses to talk about—climate change and opposes expanding anti-pollution regulations.
Louisiana’s governor from 1928-1932, during the early years of the Great Depression. Long taxed oil companies heavily and spent the revenue on infrastructure and social programs, which Hochschild sees as way to use oil money for good and contrasts with Bobby Jindal’s incentive policy.
Brother Cappy Brantley
A former telephone repairman and devout churchgoer who invites friends and family over for dinner parties. He moderates the discussions, which inevitably turn political.
Sister Fay Brantley
Brother Cappy’s wife.