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Book Essay: The Spirit Catches You And You Fall Down


For the book essay for The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down please pick 1 question from Group 1 and one question from Group 2 to answer. Provide at least 1 page each answers. Be sure to cite the book and course materials.

Group 1

1. The only American who fully won the Lees’ trust was Jeanine Hilt, their social worker. Why did Jeanine succeed where so many others had failed?

2. Neil Ernst says, “I felt it was important for these Hmongs to understand that there were certain elements of medicine that we understood better than they did and that there were certain rules they had to follow with their kids’ lives.” Why didn’t this message get through to the Lees? If you were Neil, would you feel this way too? Is this an ethnocentric attitude? Why or why not?

3. In Chapter Eight, after describing Foua’s competence as a mother and farmer in Laos, Fadiman quotes her as saying, “I miss having something that really belongs to me.” What has Foua lost? Is there anything that still “really belongs” to her? Are there other groups we have discussed that have experience similar loss?

4. In her preface, the author says that while she was working on this book, she often asked herself two questions: “What is a good doctor?” “What is a good parent?” How do you think she might have answered her own questions? How would you answer them? How is each identity constructed by each group. Which social construction is taken more seriously in the United States? Why?

5. What was the “role loss” many adult Hmong faced when they came to the United States? What is the underlying root cause? How does this loss affect their adjustment to America?

Group 2

1. How do you think the issues raised by this book should affect your education at Purdue and/or your life as a citizen today?

2. What relevance does this book have to your potential career (i.e., medicine, health, law, social work, politics, religion, communications, education, linguistics)? In the context of your future career, how do you think you would handle similar situations, if faced with them?

Course Description
This course serves as an introduction to the sociology of race and ethnicity in America. It examines racial and ethnic pluralism in America: ways groups have entered our society; their social and cultural characteristics; and their relationships with other groups. Groups include the English, Germans, Irish, Jews, Chinese, Japanese, Blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans.

Course Objectives
After completing this course, students should be familiar with basic sociological terms, ideas, and theoretical perspectives surrounding race and ethnicity. Students should be able to appreciate both socially constructed patterns of difference as well as the diverse array of individual experience. Students should be able to understand the contemporary social and political discussions that shape our conceptions of race and ethnicity as well as how they affect the life experiences of specific groups. More specifically, students should be able to comment intellectually on questions such as: How are racial and ethnic identities constructed? How does race and ethnicity intersect with gender, class, sexuality, age, disability and other dimensions of identity? How are race and ethnicity shaped by family, education, the media, politics, religion and medical practice?

Book Essay—At the end of the semester you will have the opportunity to write a short book essay on The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down. You will be choosing the question that you answer from a list that will be provided to you. This essay will be submitted as a journal entry. An outline of the expectations for this assignment will be posted online.

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