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Essay 3 - English 158.08 Toni Jaudon 1 October 2007 Respect...

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1 English 158.08 Toni Jaudon 1 October 2007 Respect for the Lee Family The American cultural elements and sympathy-inducing descriptions that Anne Fadiman presents in the end of her novel, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, portray the Lee family’s attempts to maintain a happy, Americanized lifestyle, which in turn raises a sense of respect for the family from the reader. By emphasizing how the Lees have integrated American culture into Lia’s birthday parties even though they blame the American doctors for Lia’s vegetative state, Fadiman pushes the reader toward a feeling of respect for the Lee family. In addition, Fadiman’s depiction of Lia’s troubled existence, even at events intended to be joyous celebrations, evokes a sense of sympathy and respect for the family’s continued optimism in American traditions. These feelings are further strengthened in the reader with a passage detailing Lia’s post-trauma treatment for it describes the Lees’ continued acceptance of both American culture and Western medicine. Fadiman’s emphasis of these aspects of the story generates respect for the Lee family toward the end of this novel. In order to create a sense for respect for the Lees at the end of her book, Fadiman emphasizes the American traditions of Lia’s birthdays that the Lees practiced despite what they believe American doctors did to Lia. The following passage depicts one of Lia’s typical parties: Foua served Hmong eggrolls stuffed with minced pork and onion; steamed bananas with rice; chickens that had been sacrificed that morning, and their skulls and tongues examined for divinatory signs, before they were stewed; and Doritos. There was always an American birthday cake. Jeanine lit the candles and cut the
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first piece. The guest of honor, of course, could not blow out her candles or eat her cake. She sat in her wheelchair, immobile and impassive, while the children, who had learned a standard repertoire of American songs in school, sang “Happy Birthday.” (Fadiman 216) In this passage, by ending the long descriptive list of what Foua served with the plain word “Doritos,” Fadiman highlights Foua’s decision to include it on the menu. This idea that
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