The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down
Spirit Catches You Essay
The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down is a book by Anne Fadiman about a Hmong family (the Lee’s) that moved to the United States. It deals with their child Lia, her American doctors, and the collisions of those two cultures. In Fadiman’s unbiased book I learned that there are many cultural differences between Hmong and Americans concerning opinions, stubbornness, and misunderstandings. To begin with, a cultural difference between Hmong and Americans are their opinions about Lia’s medical condition. “When Lia was about three months old, her older sister Yer slammed the front door of the Lee’s Apartment” (Fadiman 1997:20). After slamming the door Lia’s eyes rolled in the back of her head and she
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So, Hmong don’t generally trust American doctors. It is these misunderstanding and cultural differences that cause the conflicts. Some people thought that the Lee’s were neglecting Lia by not giving her the right amounts of medicine. I found that to be way off. Page 21-22 explains how Hmong regarded children as “the most prized possession a person can have” so that would be going against their culture to mistreat Lia. In conclusion, in The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down I learned that there are many cultural differences between Hmong and Americans concerning opinions, stubbornness, and misunderstandings. The beliefs of these two cultures are so different. If I had to assign blame for Lia’s tragedy I would blame the Lee’s only because I think that medicine would have helped her out a lot more if given properly from the beginning. I think that both behaviors were ethical though. The American doctors were trying to save Lia’s “life” while the Lee’s wanted to save her “soul” (Fadiman 1997:277). Both sides knew (in their minds), that they were doing what was right, so I’m still uncertain about which was more ethical.
Fadiman, Anne 1997 The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down. New York: Farrar, Straus and