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Unformatted text preview: Yim 1 John Yim Professor Frye AnthroCult 222 November 17, 2011 The Defiance to Comply: A Literary Analysis of The Spirit Catches You and You Fall In The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down , Anne Fadiman examines the cultural collision between the Hmong and the Westerners. The story revolves around the Lees, a refugee family from Laos, the struggle with their daughter Lias severe epilepsy, and Lias American doctors. Much like the traditional Hmong culture, the Lees steadfastly adhere to the rituals and ancestral beliefs of shamanism. In contrast to the Hmong, Lia's pediatricians at MCMC Hospital, Neil Ernst and his wife, Peggy Philip, cleave just as strongly to another tradition: that of Western medicine. When Lia enters the MCMC Hospital in Merced, California, a tragic case of cultural miscommunication between the two disparate communities arises that evidently results in Lias death. The cultural clash between the American Doctors at the MCMC Hospital and the Lees could have been avoided had they not imprudently labeled the Lees as noncompliant when they were referred to Western medical treatments. Had the doctors sought out to understand the context of the Lees resentment of American medical regimes, they could have served as a model of mediation as opposed to one of a constant and bitter battle for absolute submission and assimilation: the idea that one culture does not necessarily have to be perceived as primitive and inferior to another. The American doctors at the MCMC Hospital serve as a paradigmatic example of how the social gap between the two groups exacerbate as a result of the doctors notion of the Lees uncooperativeness. Fadiman describes, Lias family had never paid a penny for the Yim 2 hundreds of hours of care she received and yet the Lees failed to utterly appreciate the generosity of Medi-Cal and of Neil and Peggys services (Fadiman 1997:57). Neil Ernsts discontentment to the Lees is rooted towards his disbelief that the family wont abide by a simplistic and common practice of gratitude that even the most uncooperative American parents display. Because Neil declares the Hmong social awareness and intelligence even lower than the most uncooperative families, he essentially claims the barbaric traits retained in the Hmong. By defining the Lees as uncivilized and even dirty people, Neil reflects the expression of Western expatriates uneasiness when confronted with an opposing force. (Fadiman 1197:167)....
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This note was uploaded on 01/14/2012 for the course ANTHROCUL 222 taught by Professor Davidfrye during the Fall '11 term at University of Michigan.
- Fall '11