Strangers in Their Own Land

Strangers in Their Own Land

by

Arlie Russell Hochschild

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Lee Sherman Character Analysis

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 then summarily fired for not showing up to work. Seven years later, he exposed the source of the pollution, became an environmental activist, and helped Condea Vista workers sue their irresponsible employer—but now, he is resolutely anti-government and active in the Tea Party. He is ambivalent toward PPG—he hates its management but still proudly owns stock in the company and credits it for giving him a livelihood—but truly hates the government, which he thinks is cheating him out of well-deserved social security money. Yet, before moving to Louisiana, he used to be a Democrat—Hochschild sees his exposure of PPG and turn against the government as attempts at revenge on institutions that have wronged him. By the end of the book, he is a fanatic Donald Trump supporter.

Lee Sherman Quotes in Strangers in Their Own Land

The Strangers in Their Own Land quotes below are all either spoken by Lee Sherman or refer to Lee Sherman. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Trust, Empathy, and Political Progress Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the The New Press edition of Strangers in Their Own Land published in 2016.
Chapter 2 Quotes

In the life of one man, Lee Sherman, I saw reflected both sides of the paradox—the need for help and a principled refusal of it.

Related Characters: Arlie Russell Hochschild (speaker), Lee Sherman, PPG Management
Page Number: 35
Explanation and Analysis:
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Lee Sherman Character Timeline in Strangers in Their Own Land

The timeline below shows where the character Lee Sherman appears in Strangers in Their Own Land. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2 – “One Thing Good”
Trust, Empathy, and Political Progress Theme Icon
82-year-old Lee Sherman waits for Hochschild on his front porch and greets her with “a welcoming smile.”... (full context)
Trust, Empathy, and Political Progress Theme Icon
Sherman became an environmentalist in the 1980s after leaving PPG, but now he is an activist... (full context)
Personal Identity and Emotional Self-Interest Theme Icon
In fact, Lee Sherman’s politics shifted throughout his life: his mother was a liberal labor activist and Lee... (full context)
Trust, Empathy, and Political Progress Theme Icon
Government Regulation and Individual Freedom Theme Icon
Capitalism, Media, and Class Conflict Theme Icon
Sherman tells the story of an explosion at the plant—upon noticing a chlorine leak, his boss... (full context)
Trust, Empathy, and Political Progress Theme Icon
The Environment and the Economy Theme Icon
Capitalism, Media, and Class Conflict Theme Icon
Personal Identity and Emotional Self-Interest Theme Icon
The day after that spill, PPG management ordered Sherman to “take on another ominous job.” He would sneak out with a waste tank at... (full context)
Trust, Empathy, and Political Progress Theme Icon
Government Regulation and Individual Freedom Theme Icon
The Environment and the Economy Theme Icon
Seven years after PPG fired Lee, fish started dying en masse in the Bayou d’Inde. A government task force instructed locals... (full context)
The Environment and the Economy Theme Icon
Personal Identity and Emotional Self-Interest Theme Icon
Lee Sherman tells Hochschild about a public meeting organized to address the contamination. PPG and state... (full context)
Trust, Empathy, and Political Progress Theme Icon
Government Regulation and Individual Freedom Theme Icon
Lee feels that PPG made him do their “moral dirty work” and then “discarded” him like... (full context)
Trust, Empathy, and Political Progress Theme Icon
Government Regulation and Individual Freedom Theme Icon
Capitalism, Media, and Class Conflict Theme Icon
Hochschild sees three main reasons Tea Party voters reject government intervention: religion, taxes, and honor. Lee’s main complaint is taxes—he thinks that his tax dollars fund welfare programs that reward laziness,... (full context)
Trust, Empathy, and Political Progress Theme Icon
Capitalism, Media, and Class Conflict Theme Icon
Personal Identity and Emotional Self-Interest Theme Icon
But Lee and his wife can barely afford to give out these gifts because they are living... (full context)
Chapter 3 – The Rememberers
Government Regulation and Individual Freedom Theme Icon
The Environment and the Economy Theme Icon
Personal Identity and Emotional Self-Interest Theme Icon
...of its animals are dead. Harold and Annette live just downstream from the spot where Lee Sherman dumped PPG’s toxic waste and just across the Bayou d’Inde from the place where... (full context)
Trust, Empathy, and Political Progress Theme Icon
The Environment and the Economy Theme Icon
...Hochschild is “astonished to learn” that one of the Arenos’ co-plaintiffs is none other than Lee Sherman. As Harold walks Hochschild back to her car, he tells her that “the most... (full context)
Chapter 4 – The Candidates
Capitalism, Media, and Class Conflict Theme Icon
Personal Identity and Emotional Self-Interest Theme Icon
...workers” who remember when Louisiana used to consistently vote for Democrats before 1970. They echo Lee Sherman’s concern that the government is “giving away” their tax dollars to a class of... (full context)
Chapter 6 – Industry: “The Buckle in America’s Energy Belt”
The Environment and the Economy Theme Icon
Environmental activists—including Lee Sherman, Harold and Annette Areno, and Mike Tritico—helped out with the case against Sasol. But,... (full context)
Chapter 8 – The Pulpit and the Press: “The Topic Doesn’t Come Up”
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The Environment and the Economy Theme Icon
Capitalism, Media, and Class Conflict Theme Icon
After Lee Sherman exposed PPG’s illegal dumping, he joined the environmental activist organization RESTORE. In 1997, he... (full context)
Chapter 9 – The Deep Story
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...strongly affirm her picture of their predicament. Mike Schaff says, “I live your analogy,” and Lee Sherman tells Hochschild that she has “read my mind.” Some add to the picture: minorities... (full context)
Government Regulation and Individual Freedom Theme Icon
The Environment and the Economy Theme Icon
Personal Identity and Emotional Self-Interest Theme Icon
...But the people Hochschild met believe they are siding with big businesses against the government—even Lee Sherman still holds stock in PPG. Finally, Hochschild wonders what kind of “deep story self”... (full context)
Chapter 14 – The Fires of History: The 1860s and the 1960s
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Government Regulation and Individual Freedom Theme Icon
Capitalism, Media, and Class Conflict Theme Icon
...Hochschild’s friends in Louisiana worried about Syrian refugees coming to the United States after 2015. Lee Sherman suggested incarcerating them in Guantánamo Bay, Mike Schaff thinks they should have stayed and... (full context)
Chapter 16 – “They Say There Are Beautiful Trees”
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Lee Sherman continues to maintain his old racecars and campaign for anti-EPA Tea Party candidates. Mike... (full context)
Afterword to the Paperback Edition
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Lee Sherman has stayed in touch with Hochschild by phone. Lee adores Donald Trump, watches 14... (full context)
Trust, Empathy, and Political Progress Theme Icon
Personal Identity and Emotional Self-Interest Theme Icon
...“a basket of deplorables” during the campaign.) Janice is “the staunchest of Trump fans,” alongside Lee Sherman, and she applauds his antagonism toward “line cutters.” She jokes that the Mexico border... (full context)