The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down Essay

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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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I like this about the Hmong though; they stand up for what they believe in. Their stubbornness still caused conflicts between the Lee’s and Lia’s doctors. A great example of Hmong stubbornness is on page 51. There was a Hmong infant and it had a problem which required multiple blood samples. The parents believed their baby would die if any more blood was removed. The doctor tried to explain himself but the Hmong parents got angrier and said that they’d commit suicide if he took any more blood without their consent. Another example of Hmong stubbornness is in their Shee Yee Folktale on page 170. The Shee Yee was a healer and magician who got in a fight with nine soul stealing dab. The Shee Yee was very stubborn and wouldn’t allow the dab to catch him by any means necessary. This relates to the Hmong culture because they stand firm in what they believe in and “are not intimidated by being outnumbered” (Fadiman 1997:17). Along with the stubbornness of the Hmong is my last point that the Hmong and Americans have cultural misunderstandings. Fadiman came “to believe that her [Lia’s] life was ruined not by septic shock or noncompliant parents but by cross-cultural misunderstanding” (Fadiman 1997:262). Hmong once believed some crazy things about Americans. “It was said that Hmong women were forced into slavery, forced to have sex with American men … and with animals; that dinosaurs lived in America, along with ghosts, ogres, and
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