The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down

Jeanine Hilt Character Analysis

A social worker who works closely with Lia and the Lee family. Jeanine takes thorough notes about Lia’s circumstances, notes that Fadiman draws upon extensively to illustrate the specifics of the young girl’s story. Although Jeanine works for the government, she manages to establish a connection with Nao Kao and Foua, cementing herself in their lives as a helpful resource and ally rather than as the representative of antagonistic government forces. She is one of the only people to actually ask the Lees what they think caused their daughter’s illness. At the same time, she has a duty to carry out her job and is obligated to report the Lees’ failure to properly administer Lia’s medication and other practices considered detrimental to the young girl’s wellbeing. Child Protective Services assigns Jeanine to be the caseworker when Lia is taken away from her parents to live with Dee and Tom Korda. Later, when Lia returns home and is eventually hospitalized at Valley Children’s Hospital in Fresno, Jeanine acts as a liaison between the family and the hospital staff. Years later, Jeanine has a severe asthma attack and dies of oxygen deprivation—the same medical condition that causes Lia to enter a permanent nonresponsive state.
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Jeanine Hilt Character Timeline in The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down

The timeline below shows where the character Jeanine Hilt appears in The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3: The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down
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...attentiveness and caretaking abilities score very high in studies on parent-child connections. She writes that Jeanine Hilt , a social worker who worked closely with the Lees, once said, “They felt Lia... (full context)
Chapter 7: Government Property
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...already housed many foster children (many with disabilities) in addition to their five biological offspring. Jeanine Hilt , the culturally sensitive social worker assigned to Lia’s case, made a point of frequently... (full context)
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Jeanine Hilt continued to work with Foua, teaching her how to correctly give Lia the proper amounts... (full context)
Chapter 9: A Little Medicine and a Little Neeb
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Jeanine Hilt continued to advocate for Lia, arranging for her to attend the Schelby Center for Special... (full context)
Chapter 11: The Big One
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...a week of procedures and tests, the doctors determined that Lia was, simply speaking, brain-dead. Jeanine Hilt helped drive many relatives to the hospital. When they arrived, the doctors were “preparing the... (full context)
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...Lia to die shortly after being taken off life support, she continued to live, and Jeanine Hilt advocated for the Lee family—who wanted Lia to die at home—by organizing for a transfer... (full context)
Chapter 13: Code X
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...that’s the quandary of Western medicine, that you can’t let people die.” In the meantime, Jeanine Hilt made sure that the Lees were prepared at home to receive their daughter. (full context)
Chapter 17: The Eight Questions
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...Kao gained weight and suffered from high blood pressure, while Foua felt constantly fatigued. At Jeanine Hilt ’s suggestion, they re-enrolled Lia in the Schelby Center for Special Education, where Dee Korda... (full context)