The Spirit Catches You And You Fall Down Analysis

1546 Words7 Pages
Overcoming Language Barriers and Seeing Perspective The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman is a novel based on the real-life story of the Lee’s, a Hmong family who move to Merced, California after escaping from their home country of Laos following World War II. When the Lee’s arrive to Merced, they speak no English and are expected to adapt to Western culture. For them, it was complete culture shock. The novel focuses on Nao Kao and Foua Lee’s youngest daughter Lia, who is diagnosed by modern medicine with epilepsy and by holistic medicine with the spirit catches you and you fall down. Throughout the novel the Lee’s struggle to effectively communicate with many doctors, nurses and social workers due to the language barrier and cultural divide between the Hmong and the Americans. This raises the question, how important is perspective taking when deciding between modern medicines versus holistic medicine? A common theme throughout the novel is trust or lack thereof. The Lee’s had a difficult time trusting the doctors who were supposed to be making Lia healthier, but to the Lee’s it was as if she was only getting worse. The Lee’s were very skeptical of modern medicine and felt more comfortable with the Hmong cures. “Since Lia’s brain death, whatever scant trust Foua and Nao Kao had once had in American medicine had shrunk almost to zero … When their daughter May broker her arm, and the doctors in the MCMC emergency room told them it needed a cast, Nao Kao
Open Document