The Main Themes of the Novel My Sister’s Keeper
One may disagree different about the controversial topic displayed in the novel, My Sister’s keeper, however, one is always entitled to voice their own beliefs. My Sister’s Keeper is novel about a thirteen-year girl named, Anna Fitzgerald, and her sixteen-year-old sister Kate Fitzgerald who has a rare form of leukemia. Anna has undergone many blood transfusions, bone marrow transplants and multiple surgeries in hopes to save Kate’s life. In the novel, My Sister’s Keeper, by Jodi Picoult, the main character Anna clearly shows her frustration about being her sister Kate’s donor. Anna files a lawsuit against her parents. “I want to sue them for the rights to my own body” (21) This causes major themes in the novel, what is right vs what is wrong, and living in the moment and finding a sense of hope. Primarily, even though parents may have a sufficient reasoning on what they do, it doesn’t always make it right or moral. Secondly, a parent’s attention should be equally shared amongst all their children or one may feel neglected. Lastly, throughout tough situations it is key not to always live in the moment. Simply finding a sense of hope is significant during any situation.
Even though parents may have a sufficient reasoning on what they do, it doesn’t always make it right. Anna was forced against her own will to be a donor for her sister Kate. “Most babies are accidents, not me. I was engineered, born to save my sister’s life.” (23) This clearly shows that Anna’s parents conceived her to be a perfect donor for her sister. One may agree that the family is very fortunate to engineer their own baby, however, there are so many issues and hateful actions this family has faced due to their actions. By making the decision that your unborn child designed perfectly to be a donor, you are already taking over the rights of their body. Anna lives thinking that the only reason she belongs in her family is only due to the need of a perfect donor for her sister. If Kate wasn’t sick, she wouldn’t be here, forced against her own will. Anna feels like she’s different from everyone else, because of the wrong decision her parents made. “Well, I want you to tell them, because they’ve been doing it to me my whole life. I wouldn’t even be alive if Kate wasn’t sick. I’m a designer baby. I was made in a dish to be spare parts for Kate. (34) This clearly exemplifies the conflict between the family and reveals the theme of what is right vs what is wrong. Sara and Brian have clearly made the wrong decision conceiving Anna in the hopes she will save Kates life. It is clear that Sara and Brian have gone against their daughter own will, making her feel obligated to donate blood and born marrow whenever Kate is in need. Many people may disagree, but it is very clear that one cannot go against their own child’s will, forcing them to risk their own health to be an unwilling donor. Sara and Brian have clearly made the wrong decision to force their daughter into a situation like they did. Anna’s rights are far more important in comparison to Kate’s or Sara’s. Due to poor decisions major conflict arises throughout the novel.
A parent’s attention should be equally shared amongst all their children or one may feel neglected. Neglect is sadly a common theme expressed throughout the novel. Jesse is neglected and unwelcomed in his family, leaving him obligated to behaving poorly. “There are some nights when you just want to know there is someone else beside you in their wide world.” (122) Jesse is explaining his emotions on what he feels like most days. He feels helpless that he cannot help his sister Kate, but also feels a huge sense of neglect. His feelings of neglect drive him to bad things, like burn things down and act out of control for attention. His actions reflect on his sense of feelings and emotions. Anna’s behaviour throughout the novel tends to reveal her need for attention from her family. Her feeling of neglect and manipulated drives her to stop tending to Kate’s needs in the hospital.. Anna cries out to Campbell Alexander, “I gave up my marrow; the shots that sparked more stem cells in me, so that there’d be extra for my sister. The fact that I’m not sick, but I might as well be. The fact that the only reason I was born was as a harvest crop for Kate.” (21) “I want to sue the for the rights to my own body.” (21) Since Anna feels a sense of neglect her way of receiving attention is through filing a lawsuit against her parents. Anna is consistently feeling that she has no support from her mother because Sara’s attention is constantly only on Kate, focusing to try to save her life. This drives Anna to feeling neglected. As Anna begins to receive attention from her mother, she tends to be more willing to drop the lawsuit and be more open with her family. Sara makes it clear that she only needs Anna to be a donor. By making Anna feel like she’s only alive to be a donor she feels deceived. These quotations are only a few out of the novel that describe to the reader how the parents are clearly neglecting two out of their three children. A parent may not realize that sharing attention equally amongst all their children is important, however, no child is the same and each child deserves to be treated and feel special in their own way.
Throughout tough situations it is important not to always live in the moment of time. Simply finding a sense of hope is significant during any situation. The theme of finding hope is very significant throughout the novel. Kate begins to not believe in herself no longer. She cannot find hope during her tough fight of leukemia. This affects her family tremendously, driving them to the point of giving up. The family is only holding onto the last bit of hope they can find in their family and life. “This is it. I know I’m going to die now. I suppose I’ve always known that. I just never knew when. And I’m okay with it. Really. I don’t mind my disease killing me. But it’s killing my family, too.” (253) Kate is at a point in her life of giving up. She has been through it all and has come to the conclusion of just dying so she no longer has to suffer. The only thing that has been holding her back is her family. She has realized that the disease isn’t only killing herself it is killing her family as well. It is clear that only her family is searching for hope from that point on. Hope is the only thing that continues to hold the family together as one. If the family loses hope that family will fall apart completely. Jesse is the only one who agrees with Kate about her dying. He makes it clear that the family needs to just gives up and just let Kate die. Jesse shows that there is no sense of hope left even though there is always a way to find hope. Jesse drives the family into proving him wrong by never giving up. Jesse states: “She’s making Anna do all this ‘cause she knows she’s not gonna survive another operation.” Sara [yells] “That’s a lie, Jessse” Jesse continues to explain, “Mum, no, it’s not. Kate’s dying and everybody knows it! You just love her so much that you don’t want to let her go!” (264) This has clearly revealed that Sara is living life worried and preparing for the absolute worst. It is very obvious that Sara and Brian do live in the moment, but they are however always searching for hope in their life. Sara is always prepared to rush to the hospital with Kate even though it is not necessary. Jesse has realized that his sister isn’t going to live much longer and explains to his mother that she needs to let go. However, Sara and Brian are searching for hope in every situation. They hope for the best during transplants, treatments and relapses, operations, and blood transfusion with Kate. Anna may disagree with her parents’ decisions; however, she is also finding a sense of hope in her sister. Anna is also hoping that her family will realize exactly how she feels about being manipulated and how she wants to have rights over her own body. A sense of hope in life is the only thing that the family lives by.
All in all, the novel, My Sister’s Keeper, by Jodi Picoult, the main character Anna clearly shows her frustration about being her sister Kate’s donor. Anna files a lawsuit against her parents. “I want to sue them for the rights to my own body” (21) This clearly reveals the major themes in the novel, what is right vs what is wrong, and living in the moment and finding a sense of hope. Even though parents may have a sufficient justification on what they do, it doesn’t always make it right or moral. It is very clear that a parent’s attention should be equally shared amongst all their children or one may feel neglected. Also, throughout tough situations it is key not to always live in the moment. Simply finding a sense of hope is significant during any situation. “Maybe who we are isn’t so much about what we do, but rather what we’re capable of when we least expect it.” (355) – Jodi Picoult.
- Picoult, Jodi. My Sister’s Keeper. New York: Atria, April 6, 2004.
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