Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Anne Fadiman's The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.
The Spirit Catches You: Context
The Spirit Catches You: Plot Summary
The Spirit Catches You: Detailed Summary & Analysis
The Spirit Catches You: Themes
The Spirit Catches You: Quotes
The Spirit Catches You: Characters
The Spirit Catches You: Symbols
The Spirit Catches You: Theme Wheel
Brief Biography of Anne Fadiman
Historical Context of The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down
Other Books Related to The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down
- Full Title: The Spirit Catches You And You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures
- When Written: 1988-1997
- Where Written: Merced, California and New York City
- When Published: 1997
- Literary Period: Contemporary Literature
- Genre: Ethnography, Medical Anthropology, & Literary Nonfiction
- Setting: Merced, California
- Climax: During Lia’s final seizure, the doctors are ultimately unable to stabilize her, thereby failing to protect her from monumental neurological damage that leaves her paralyzed and nonresponsive.
- Antagonist: The most immediate antagonistic force in The Spirit Catches You And You Fall Down is Lia’s epilepsy, though Fadiman is more interested in exploring the miscommunication across cultural divides that render her doctors and parents unable to work together to treat her illness.
- Point of View: Fadiman writes from her own first-person perspective, though she does not appear in several chapters in which she explains Hmong history.
Extra Credit for The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down
Lia Lee. Despite her doctors’ estimate that she would die within days of being taken off life support, Lia Lee lived for twenty-six years in a paralyzed, non-responsive state, making her 30 years old at the time of her death in 2012.