Ethical Dilemma In Jodi Picoult’s Novel My Sister’s Keeper

April 27, 2022 by Essay Writer

Throughout the novel, My Sister’s Keeper, I was able to make many connections to society. This novel is about a 16-year old girl name Kate Fitzgerald who was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 2. From the moment she was diagnosed with leukemia, her and her family’s life changed. “She is dying Sara. She will die, either tonight or tomorrow or maybe a year from now if we’re really lucky. You heard what Dr. Chance said. Arsenic’s not a cure. It just postpones what’s coming.” Anna was forced against her will to donate her kidney to her sister Katie.

Anna then decided she wanted to file a lawsuit against her parents. This was the start of major conflict within the family. Sara states, “I plan for her to save her sister’s life” (100). Sara begins to admit to only having her daughter, Anna, only to keep she sick daughter Kate alive. This explains why Anna is so devastated and senses a feeling of undesired. The author, Jodi Picoult, gives the reader feelings of tough-love. I feel that the author wrote this story reflecting on events that have occurred in her life. I can sympathize the feeling of tough-love that the author is expressing throughout the novel. I feel that Picoult wrote this novel to show that love could triumph over anyone.

The novel shows that when family is sick, showing love to one another will bring family back happy together as one. The youngest sibling, Anna, felt a sense of tough-love when she told by her parents that she was made as a designer baby, to be her sisters savior by being a donor to her sister, Kate, whenever she needed blood or bone marrow. Picoult wanted to express in this novel that there is not always love shown in every family. She wants the reader to grasp the feelings felt on both sides of the story. She does a good job in conceiving the reader to feel both sides of the story. The one side of the story is that Kate’s parents, Sara and Brian, desperately try to do the right thing for her, by going to see doctors to make a baby that would be the perfect donor match to their daughter. The other side of the story is that Anna is forced against her will by her parents to be a donor for her sister.

This novel was very passionate to me. I was able to make connections to many things including; my life, society, movies/ tv and my family. First off, this book is a great example of what society is beginning to look like. In society, In vitro fertilization (IVF) is becoming something infertile couples rely on for conceiving a baby. Anna says, “I was born because a scientist managed to hook up my mother’s eggs and my father’s sperm to create a specific combination of precious genetic material” (8) Anna is saying that her parents used IVF to conceive her. I actually know a couple who is beginning IVF for their first time, for their second baby and it is very fascinating. They had issue with their first baby, so they turned to IVF for their second child to ensure that they conceive the “perfect” baby.

Growing up I always dreamed about becoming a nursing and working on OBS. This novel has taught me many things to do with health and hospitals. I have connected my learned for the novel to my current co-op placement at the hospital. I am currently on the Medsurg floor and I care for patients with cancer on the daily and it is a very tough to watch young and elderly patients fight to stay alive. Picoult wrote a novel that I could really connect with and feel sympathy for each character. I expected this story to have a happy ending considering they had the perfect donor to make the story have a happy ending. Picoult decided she wanted to express the story in a different way.

She didn’t want a happy ending, rather she wanted to prove what was right and what was wrong in the story. Judge Desalvo exclaims, “The answer is that there is no good answer. So as parents, as doctors, as judges, and as a society, we fumble through and make decisions that allow us to sleep at night – because morals are more important than ethics, and love is more important than law” (467).

This connects to the theme of the novel, is it right or is it wrong. Anna’s life is connected to Kate’s whole life. Anna suffers through pain when doctors remove bone-marrow from her for Kate. Without the help from Anna, Kate would die. Therefore, the question that is left unanswered is, does Anna have to suffer to a large extent just to keep Kate alive, even when it is against her own will. The other question that is, is there even a solution to this problem?

This novel was formatted in a way that all characters talked and voiced their opinion equally. The author formatted this novel so that each chapter was named the character who was talking in first person for that chapter. I highly agree with this format for this novel because this novel involves a lot of different feelings and problems making it hard to grasp the thoughts of each character. By having a main character talking in each chapter it allows the reader to gain a better sense of each character’s perspective, feelings, emotions and their mind.

Throughout the novel I was consistently thinking ahead about what was going to happen next, what the major twist in the story was going to be, how this story was going to have a cheerful ending, and how the family was going to come together as happy supportive family. Throughout the novel I was consistently asking myself different questions. I was putting myself in the perspective of each character and by doing this I was always questioning myself if I would act the same as they did. Anna states “I didn’t come to see Kate because it would make me feel better. I came because without her, it’s hard to remember who I am.” (138)

This made me wonder what Anna was actually meaning. After thinking about this for a while, I came to the conclusion that she feels left out and lost because she is convinced the only reason she is alive is to be her sister’s donor. I feel that the only reason why Anna feels the way she does is because her parents have made her to believe that she’s only alive for her sister’s wellbeing.

Overall, Picoult is a very good writer who keeps her stories very simple, short and relatable to most people. She displays life lessons throughout the novel. She expresses that every day is a new day that is worth living for and to appreciate what you have before it is gone.


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