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The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman - Essay Example

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The book, “The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down” by Anne Fadiman is a valid model of the world today. The theme of the story is about cultural misunderstanding, specifically the Hmong culture and Western medicine…
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The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman
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"The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman"

The author uses in depth descriptions of the medicinal practices and the other eccentricities of the Hmong which is very helpful especially to the readers who have no idea about the Hmong. The book is well written. I appreciate that the author has unbiased views, not blaming Lia’s parents nor the doctors for the tragedy that befell Lia. There was a balanced presentation of the conflict between the two cultures. Even to this day, there exists a conflict between the beliefs of ancestral culture as against those of the Western developments in the field of medicine. Aside from this conflict, the story also presents the problems related to immigration, as shown with the difficulties experienced by Lia’s family. The characters portrayed in the book are very real. The major character is Anne Fadiman, who is the author and narrator of the book. She relates her experiences with Lia and her family. She introduces the readers to the Hmong culture, its history, beliefs and moral ethics. I think among all the characters of the book, Anne is the one who feels most the tragic effect of the differences between the Hmong culture and Western medicine. She is the one who realizes that there should be a thorough understanding of both cultures in order to be successful at healing a patient like Lia. The other major characters in the story are Foua Yang, Lia’s mother and Nao Kao Lee, Lia’s father. The parents of Lia are typical parents who would do anything for the healing of their child. The author portrays them as very loving and caring parents who are totally committed to the welfare of Lia. However, I cannot help but partly blame them for what happened to Lia. I view them as the traditional Hmong who simply refuse to accept Western medicine which could have helped improve Lia’s condition. They represent the people in our current society who resist the changes that are taking place. They represent the people who are so attached to the traditions and beliefs of their ancestors. The center of the story is Lia, the epileptic Hmong child. The conflict in the story revolves around the various treatments she undergoes from the Hmong culture and the Western medicine. The story portrays Lia’s tragic life which is the result of two opposing views, yet has a common objective, which is her healing. The other characters which we can see in the real world are Lia’s husband and wife doctors at Merced Community Medical Center, Neil Ernst & Peggy Philip. Unlike most of the doctors at Merced, they are the ones who are most open to the Hmong culture. However, they still cannot reconcile the idea of healing the soul to bring about the healing of the body. The book is indeed like the real world. Our world is not only composed of one culture, ours is a world of diverse cultures. This means that conflicts will certainly arise because each culture has different beliefs and traditions. The book centered only in the area of cross cultural medicine to portray the problems of having to live in a society with a myriad of cultures in existence. I cannot exactly say that it is good or bad because it has its advantages and disadvantages. Unfortunately in this book, the cultural clash resulted in something bad which is Lia’s poor state of health. I believe that in our society today, we can make heterogeneity of culture work to our advantage. We are free to adapt the beliefs or traditions from other cultures which we think can be beneficial to us. Competition does not have to be the name of the game but rather cooperation is what really matters. Each individual must strive to be open to understanding and Read More
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