Summary of The Spirit Catches You And You Fall Down
In ‘The Spirit Catches You And You Fall Down’, Lia, a Hmong baby girl, is born to a Hmong family living in California as refugees away from their war torn land in Laos. In Laos the Lee’s where farmers and lived in the country according to their Hmong traditions and beliefs. In California they barely understood the language, much less Western culture or medicinal practices. In Hmong tradition, illness was seen as a spiritual problem rather than a physical problem and a Shaman that practiced spiritual ceremonies and used natural remedies was sought to prevent or cure certain illnesses and/or diseases; so when Lia suffered her first seizure at the age of 3 months and was taken to Mercer Hospital in California for treatment, it marked the beginning of the clash of two different worlds and two different cultures and Lia was caught in the middle of it all. There are about five main important events in the story of Lia Lee. The first Chapter goes through the traditional birthing methods and traditions of the Hmong people. One of the most noteworthy traditions is the burying the placenta. The placenta has to be purposefully buried in a specific spot under the home’s dirt floor so when the individual dies its soul has to travel back to the placenta. This chapter also introduces the characters Nao Kao and Foua Lee, Lia Lee’s parents. In the first chapter Nao gives birth to Lia Lee in an American hospital, their first child to be born in a hospital. Lia was born July 19, 1982. The baby appeared to be healthy and was released from the hospital 3 days later. The main focus of this chapter is comparing the birth of the children in Laos (where Nao and Foua were from) to the American birthing traditions. The next important event in the story is Chapter 3 titled “The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down”. This chapter introduces the beginning of Lia’ seizures as her older sister slammed the front door of their apartment...
References: Fadiman, A. (1998).The spirit catches you and you fall down. Frrar, Straus and Giroux : New York
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