The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down


Anne Fadiman

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Sue Xiong Character Analysis

A Hmong-American interpreter who translates for the Lees and who also accompanies Child Protective Services workers to the Lee household when Lia is taken away from Foua and Nao Kao for the second time. Nao Kao resents Sue because he believes she misrepresents him in her translations—he also dislikes her because she informs CPS workers that she doesn’t think Lia should be returned to his custody. During one particularly tense visit, Nao Kao threatens Sue physically, saying that if she ever comes back, he will kill her. Jeanine Hilt characterizes Sue—whose husband is a non-Hmong American—by saying, “Culturally Sue was pretty white, and she dressed real cute and was not at home having babies and sustaining the Hmong culture very well, so a lot of Hmong really saw her as selling out.”
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Sue Xiong Character Timeline in The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down

The timeline below shows where the character Sue Xiong appears in The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 7: Government Property
Cultural Values, Spirituality, and Medicine  Theme Icon
Blame and Power Theme Icon
History and Ethnic Identity Theme Icon
...June 6th, this time for six months. CPS workers arrived at the Lee house with Sue Xiong , a Hmong interpreter whom Nao Kao disliked because he believed she told the doctors... (full context)
Cultural Values, Spirituality, and Medicine  Theme Icon
...subsequent trip to their house, Nao Kao wielded a baseball bat and threatened to beat Sue Xiong to death. Despite this incident, Jeanine continued to advocate for the Lees, and on April... (full context)