The Spirit Catches You And You Fall Down Ch. 9 &10

Ch. 9 focuses on Lia’s return home to the Lees and their response. When Lia returns home, it seems the Lees finally find a good balance between Hmong remedies and Western medicine. They sacrifice a cow to bring Lia good health, buy her amulets, and practice other Hmong healing methods. However, they also give Lia a steady dose of Depakene. Due to their effective combination of Hmong practice and Western medicine, the natural assumption is Lia would do better and she did at first. However, an incident at school with a swing lands her in the hospital again, leading to serious complications (Fadiman 116). This time, Lia contracts an infection due to an injury that occured at the hospital (Fadiman 117). It seems this chapter shows the Lees in a positive light, showing their willingness to adapt after Lia is returned to them but might further their distrust of MCMC due to lingering resentment over the child services situation and this new incident. It is interesting that the Lees attributed Lia’s initial improvement to the effective combination of their tradition and medication. It shows they are not against Western practice but that they want to also continue Hmong practice. This reminds me of my own family. My parents have always believed in taking me to the doctors and making sure I take medicine when I am sick but I also know my family uses certain herbs for their medicinal properties. They put red bracelets on babies to protect them and they use eggs to suck sickness/evil out of the body as the Hmongs do. However, as shown with Lia’s case sometimes things simply go wrong and it is not really the parents’ or doctor’s fault. I think Americans are more willing to accept this fact in regards to a white family but they are more likely to place blame on an immigrant family.

    Ch. 10 reinforced the knowledge that the Hmongs are not simply immigrants, they are also refugees. They were forced into war, treated as “noble savages,” then ultimately abandoned and forced to make the dangerous trek to Thailand (Fadiman 127-139). This historical background furthers our understanding of why the Hmongs are so skeptical of Americans, they have plenty of reasons to be hesitant.

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