Chapter 1 & 2 Reflection

Chapters 1 and 2 of the novel introduces readers to the culture of the Hilltribe called “Hmong.” Both chapters go into detail about cultural norms and expectations while also introducing Lia Lee and her family as the protagonists of the story. Chapter 1 first explains the birth of Lia Lee and the numerous cultural myths that are associated with pregnancy and childbirth for Hmong Woman. For example, “If she (pregnant woman) craved ginger and failed to eat it, her child would be born with an extra finger or toe.” The chapter dives into the drastic differences in the cultural experience of childbirth; Lia Lee’s mother experiences this because Lia was born in a modern public hospital in California. It is clear the the Hmong culture is unique to what is typical in the US. This can be seen through what Hmong vs American woman eat and drink postpartum in the hospital. Chapter 2, titled, “Fish Soup” makes the claim, “Fish soup. That’s the essence of the Hmong.” Chapter 2 also goes further into describing the history behind the relationship between the Hmong and the Chinese; the Chinese often referred to the Hmong as Barbarians and the Hmong called the Chinese “sons of dogs”. My initial reaction to the first 2 chapters of the novel is I am excited to see how the mix of cultures unfolds. Chapters 1 and 2 were very educational and rich in information about what the Hmong culture is and I anticipate a long journey with Lia Lee’s family in immersing themselves in American culture while staying true to their Hmong rituals. When it comes to understanding and accepting another’s culture, I believe that knowledge is power. I am happy the book began with educating me about the history and tradition of the Hmong.

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One thought on “Chapter 1 & 2 Reflection

  1. I agree that knowledge is power and it is very important to not only be aware of other cultures but be able to understand them as well. I believe that the first two chapters were particularly effective in establishing a basic overview of Hmong values and traditions and this will be important later because the juxtaposition between western and nonwestern practices will be more prominent as the story unfolds.

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