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Sprit Catches You and You Fall Down

In: Social Issues

Submitted By lisa1966
Words 562
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1. Discuss your overall impression of the book As painful and tragic as the story of Lia is, this is a beautiful illustration of how culture can clash with American medicine. In the beginning, the reader can see, relate, and even side with the doctors at MCMC. You feel the Lee family is being ignorant and even selfish because they seem to be more interested in doing things their way instead of saving Lia’s life above all. However, later in the book the author is able to present the Lee’s point of view. How they and the Hmong community interpret certain things and the impact that their beliefs have on treating illnesses. Each side with the best of intentions in mind for Lia. Unfortunately, the cultural differences between the Lee’s and the doctors’ were stronger than those well intentions. 2. Identify and discuss three major themes evident in the book 2.1-The importance of cultural understanding and tolerance The most important and obvious theme of this story is the importance of understanding and accepting that there are many different cultures out there. Equally important is learning what these differences are so that both cultures can work together towards one common goal in a respectful manner. In Lia’s case the many misunderstandings due to religious differences and language barrier led to the Lee’s noncompliance of Lia’s medications. At the same time , the doctors’ unwillingness to even consider the Hmong’s beliefs or incorporate any of it in Lia’s treatment and care, also contributed to Lia’s vegetative state in the end. 2.2-Compromise: differences in medical treatment Throughout the story we repeatedly see how the doctors want to treat Lia and how her parents believe she should be treated. Hmongs believe illnesses have more to do with emotions meaning that the soul is the key. In American culture illnesses are physically treated, in other words, mind and body are separate. To the Hmong, the soul is more important than the patients life. With American doctors, it is quite the opposite. The Lee’s understood that the cause of Lia’s seizures was that her soul had left her body. So, in their eyes the cure for Lia depended on getting her soul back not giving her medication. On the contrary, Foua and Nao Kao believed these medications would make Lia sicker. The doctors at MCMC


The first and most important theme is: cultural understanding. The author uses the battle between the doctors of Merced and Lia’s parents as a way of emphasizing that we, as Americans, need to be more sensitive to the various aspects of different cultures or we are no longer the melting pot we have always claimed to be. 
 The second theme is: a little medicine, a little neeb, or soul. This refers to the idea that the doctors needed only accept the idea that along with their medical treatment of the Hmong, they needed to accept that there must also be room for the Hmong concept of the soul. In other words, nothing works well without compromise. 
 A final theme tells us when everything else disappears, there is always love. The doctors held firm to their method of treatment while the Lees demanded respect for their culture. In the end, with Lia in a vegetative state, all that was left was love for her and care for her needs.

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