The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down

by

Anne Fadiman

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Spirit Catches You can help.

Peggy Philp Character Analysis

One of Lia’s primary doctors, and Neil Ernst’s wife. A pediatrician who specializes in hematology and child development, she is—like her husband—a motivated person who is most interested in discovering the truth. She and Neil pore over Lia’s medical records to answer Fadiman’s many questions, often catching small and previously unnoticed details in the sea of paperwork that comprises the young girl’s medical history.

Peggy Philp Quotes in The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down

The The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down quotes below are all either spoken by Peggy Philp or refer to Peggy Philp. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Cultural Values, Spirituality, and Medicine  Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Farrar, Straus, and Giroux edition of The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down published in 2012.
Chapter 5 Quotes

A handful of times, Neil gave Foua a hug while Lia was seizing, but most of the time, while Lia was between the ages of eighteen months and three and a half years, he was too angry to feel much sympathy toward either of her parents. “The best thing I could have given Lia’s mother was compassion, and I wasn’t giving her any and I knew that I wasn’t giving her any,” he said. “There was just too much aggravation. It was like banging your head against a wall constantly and not making any headway. There was the frustration of the nighttime calls and the length of time it took and the amount of energy and sorrow and lack of control. […] When she came to the emergency room in status there would be sort of like a very precipitous peak of anger, but it was quickly followed by the fear of having to take care of a horribly sick child who it was very difficult to put an IV in.” Peggy added, “Some of the anger came from that. From our own fear.”

Related Characters: Anne Fadiman (speaker), Lia Lee, Neil Ernst, Peggy Philp
Page Number: 56
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 13 Quotes

Calling Lia a vegetable was, it seemed to me, just one more form of avoidance. In describing what had happened to her, [Neil] and Peggy both used the kinds of terms favored by the doctors in MASH, gallows-humor slang wielded in times of extreme stress on the theory that if you laugh at something it can’t break your heart. “Lia gorked.” “She crumped.” “She fried her brain.” “She vegged out.” “She crapped out.” “She went to hell.” “No one’s at home, the lights are out.”

Related Characters: Anne Fadiman (speaker), Lia Lee, Neil Ernst, Peggy Philp
Page Number: 173
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Spirit Catches You LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down PDF

Peggy Philp Character Timeline in The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down

The timeline below shows where the character Peggy Philp appears in The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 5: Take as Directed
Cultural Values, Spirituality, and Medicine  Theme Icon
As Lia’s trips to MCMC became more frequent, her primary pediatricians, Neil Ernst and Peggy Philp (a married couple) came to know her and her parents very well. Neil and... (full context)
Cultural Values, Spirituality, and Medicine  Theme Icon
Lia’s medication regimen began to prove difficult for the Lees to follow. Peggy Philp originally prescribed an anticonvulsant called Dilantin, then changed to phenobarbital, then decided to try... (full context)
Cultural Values, Spirituality, and Medicine  Theme Icon
Blame and Power Theme Icon
Integration and Assimilation Theme Icon
...tests reflected the same lack of the medication she had noticed before changing the dosage, Peggy began to understand that Foua and Nao Kao weren’t administering the drug properly. Whether or... (full context)
Cultural Values, Spirituality, and Medicine  Theme Icon
Blame and Power Theme Icon
...continued to have serious seizures and her parents maintained their skepticism of the prescribed medications. Peggy Philp noted in an Ambulatory Care Physicians’ Report that Lia “had ‘no words (altho used... (full context)
Chapter 13: Code X
Cultural Values, Spirituality, and Medicine  Theme Icon
When Peggy first saw Lia after the girl’s return from Fresno, she was heartbroken: Lia was hardly... (full context)
Cultural Values, Spirituality, and Medicine  Theme Icon
...day back at MCMC that the intravenous line delivering all her medications be taken out. Peggy had a discussion with the Lees in which she explained that, without the antibiotics coming... (full context)
Chapter 17: The Eight Questions
Cultural Values, Spirituality, and Medicine  Theme Icon
Neil Ernst and Peggy Philp continued to practice, winning awards and gaining promotions. When their son was diagnosed with... (full context)
Cultural Values, Spirituality, and Medicine  Theme Icon
Fadiman repeated Hutchinson’s theory to Neil and Peggy, who pored through their notes before determining that it was indeed a possibility that the... (full context)
Cultural Values, Spirituality, and Medicine  Theme Icon
Blame and Power Theme Icon
...the Lees would respond and brought the results to Kleinman. In contrast to Neil and Peggy, who were baffled to learn what the Lees actually believed, Kleinman was excited and unsurprised... (full context)
Chapter 18: The Life or the Soul
Cultural Values, Spirituality, and Medicine  Theme Icon
Blame and Power Theme Icon
...if she had been treated by somebody like Arthur Kleinman instead of Neil Ernst and Peggy Philp. Regardless, she says, the real culprit of Lia’s demise was no single doctor, but... (full context)
The Afterword to the Fifteenth Anniversary Edition
Cultural Values, Spirituality, and Medicine  Theme Icon
Blame and Power Theme Icon
...are fully involved with their medical treatments and free to voice their wishes. Neil and Peggy joined Dan’s practice and often think about Lia—they think that the results of Lia’s story... (full context)
Cultural Values, Spirituality, and Medicine  Theme Icon
Blame and Power Theme Icon
...the Lee daughters was a student) to speak about her book, Fadiman invited Neil and Peggy to join her on the panel. She also invited Foua and Nao Kao to attend,... (full context)