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My Sister’s Keeper

Jodi Picoult

Monday, part 1

The Weekend

Monday, part 2

From Campbell’s section through Sara’s section

Summary: Campbell

Campbell wakes up in his boat after spending the night with Julia. He thinks that he loved Julia because she was an independent spirit and he couldn’t bear to take that away from her. He leaves while Julia sleeps and goes to the courthouse. Neither Sara nor Brian knows where Anna is. Campbell finds her in Kate’s hospital room and drives her back to the courthouse. On the way, Campbell pulls over and asks Anna why they’re going to court. Anna counters by asking him about his dog. Campbell says that the dog is for a hearing problem. Anna says she’s sick of things always being about Kate. Campbell points out that Anna is lying, and Anna says Campbell is also lying about the dog.

Campbell and Anna arrive at the courthouse, and everyone moves into the courtroom. Anna asks Campbell if she’ll have to speak. He lies and says she probably won’t. Campbell speaks first and says in the justice system what is legal differs from what is moral. Sometimes is hard to tell them apart, but the court is there to help. Campbell calls Sara to the stand. She talks about Anna’s conception, and Campbell asks her about all the times Anna has undergone a medical procedure to help Kate. He also asks if Anna had a choice in any of these cases. Sara says Campbell can see things in black and white because he only represents one of her daughters, but Sara represents both of her daughters.

Summary: Anna

During a recess in the trial, Campbell and Anna speak alone. Anna says even if they win they still lose. When the trial resumes, Campbell calls Dr. Bergen as his second witness. Dr. Bergen says the ethics committee has discussed whether Kate should have a kidney transplant and that they arrived at a split decision. Campbell asks if the committee discussed the risks to the donor, and Dr. Bergen said it wasn’t an issue since Anna wasn’t a patient. Campbell shows Dr. Bergen Anna’s hospital records, and the doctor admits that Anna has had several invasive procedures. He also admits he voted against the kidney donation since he did not believe Kate would live through the procedure.

Anna recalls how Kate saved her when she was a baby. She was in a walker and almost rolled onto the street before Kate caught her. In the present, Sara questions Dr. Bergen and asks if he has children. She then asks if he ever puts himself into a patient’s shoes. She asks if, offered a course of action that could save his child’s life, would he question it or try it. He doesn’t answer. Another break follows. As Anna leaves the courtroom, she tells her mother she did great.

Summary: Sara

In 2002, Kate meets a boy named Taylor while she receives platelets and he receives chemo. Sara watches them flirt and feels happy that her daughter likes a boy. Kate goes on a date with Taylor. That night, Sara overhears Kate gushing about it to Anna. Kate goes into relapse, and Sara has difficulty convincing Kate, who does not want to be hospitalized again, to undergo a stem cell transplant. The oncology team lets Kate begin chemo as an outpatient. Taylor visits Kate during her chemo, helps her when she throws up, and asks her to a dance for patients hosted by the hospital.

Sara, Kate, and Anna shop for a dress for Kate. Kate fells self conscious about her baldness, her chest catheter, and all of the scars on her body from chemo. Sara tries to comfort her, but Kate says she can’t fix it every time. Anna drags Kate into a hair salon and asks the hairstylist if she can give Kate, who has no hair, an up-do or a perm. Anna and Kate laugh at the stunned reaction they get. Kate attends the dance with Taylor, and Sara see them kiss. Soon after the dance, Kate goes into the hospital for her transplant. She worries because she hasn’t heard from Taylor. Sara finds out that Taylor died suddenly, but she waits to tell Kate until a month after her transplant. When Kate finds out, she says she loved him and doesn’t speak to Sara for a week. Sara finds Kate looking at old pictures, including one of Kate when she was a baby, before cancer. Kate remarks that she was beautiful.

Analysis

Anna’s motivation in filing her lawsuit still remains unclear. Anna’s decision will almost certainly lead to Kate’s death, but Anna obviously loves her sister and has always done all she can to make her feel better. Anna has been able to help Kate as no one else can, not only physically but emotionally as well. When Kate becomes upset as she, Anna, and Sara shop for a dress, Anna finds a way to cheer Kate up. In addition, Anna knows that Kate even saved her life once by stopping her walker from rolling into traffic. All of this evidence contrasts with Anna’s decision to stop being Kate’s donor. Furthermore, Anna does not deny that she lied when she told Campbell that she filed the lawsuit so she could finally be the focus of her family’s attention, indicating that the real reason Anna filed the lawsuit remains a secret.

Taylor’s introduction into the story allows Sara—and the reader—to see Kate as an average teenage girl, but his sudden death underscores the fact that, for Kate and the rest of the Fitzgerald family, any sense of normalcy is often fragile and temporary. So much of Kate’s presence in the story has been about her illness, but her relationship with Taylor reveals a different girl entirely. She falls in love and gushes about her first kiss. She goes to a dance. These events resemble the life of a typical adolescent girl, though reminders of Kate’s cancer persist. She and Taylor flirt during chemotherapy, she has no hair to style for the prom, and Kate and Taylor must remove their hospital masks to kiss. Even so, Kate finally has something to focus on other than her health, and Kate can bond with Taylor because he understands everything Kate endures as a patient since he has experienced it all himself. In fact, Taylor represents the only deep emotional connection Kate makes in the book with someone outside her family, making his sudden death extremely painful for Kate. In addition, his death forces Kate and Sara to recognize that Kate could die at any time, practically without notice.

Taylor’s death also serves as another reminder of the life Kate might have had if she didn’t have leukemia. After Taylor dies, Sara sees Kate looking at pictures of the family and herself when she was younger, before she had cancer. Kate speaks about the younger version of herself in the picture as though she were a stranger, and Sara thinks to herself that the girl in the picture represents someone they never got to know. In other words, the person Kate might have been if she were healthy has been lost to them, suggesting that cancer has not only made her sick but also transformed who she is as a person. Prior to this point, we have seen the devastating physical effects cancer has had on Kate, but now we see for the first time the full extent of the emotional distress Kate has experienced because of her cancer.

At the trial, Campbell and Sara represent the two sides of the novel’s main ethical debate about whether Anna has an obligation to give Kate a kidney. Campbell begins by emphasizing that what is moral differs from what is legal. As he argues, Brian and Sara may feel that Anna has a moral obligation to give Kate a kidney because Anna will suffer only some pain in exchange for Kate’s survival. But from a legal standpoint, Anna has no such obligation, and neither Brian, Sara, or the doctors involved have ever taken Anna’s legal rights into account. Therefore Anna should be medically emancipated and allowed to make her own decisions about her health. Sara, on the other hand, argues that she and Brian have not neglected Anna’s rights. They have not put Anna in any undue risk and have only followed the suggestions of the hospital’s ethics committee. They’ve considered the health of both daughters, where Campbell only has to consider Anna’s wellbeing.

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