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My Sister’s Keeper

Jodi Picoult

Wednesday, part 2

Wednesday, part 1

Thursday

From Brian’s section through end of chapter

Summary: Brian

Brian rushes to Campbell, who has had a seizure. Julia asks if Campbell will be okay, and Brian assures her that Campbell will be fine. In the Judge’s chambers, Campbell regains consciousness. He doesn’t remember what happened, but Brian fills him in. Campbell apologizes to his dog for not listening. Brian helps Campbell change into clean clothes, and Campbell admits that he’s been hiding his seizures since he was eighteen. He says they started after a car crash. Julia enters the room, and Brian leaves. Brian observes that things don’t always look as they seem.

Summary: Campbell

Campbell tells Julia he had a car accident the night he took her home from his parent’s house. The seizures started that night, and he has hidden them from everyone ever since. Judge, he explains, is an epilepsy dog, and he broke up with Julia he didn’t think she should have to live with his seizures. Julia tells Campbell that you don’t love someone because they’re perfect but in spite of their imperfection. She also tells Campbell that she will never leave him.

Summary: Anna

Anna talks to Campbell alone. She asks him if he took her case because he knows what it’s like not to have control over his own body. He says “maybe.” They go back to the courtroom and Anna takes the stand again. Campbell asks Anna to confirm that Kate asked her to file the petition, and Anna says that’s not exactly true. She says Kate asked Anna to kill her.

In a flashback, Anna finds Kate drunk with a bottle of pills. Kate tells Anna she’s sick of waiting for something that’s going to happen anyway, and she’s tired of ruining everyone’s lives. But she admits that she can’t kill herself. Anna realizes this means Kate has tried before. Back in the courtroom in the present, Sara says Anna’s story isn’t true. Anna tells her mother that Kate didn’t say anything because she knew telling Sara would kill her, too. Anna also says she doesn’t want Kate to die, but Kate doesn’t want to live the way she’s been living. Anna, as always, is the only one who can give her what she wants.

In another flashback, Kate asks Anna not to donate her kidney. She acknowledges that there are so many things Anna could do if she weren’t around. Anna feels ashamed to admit that she has had the same thought. In the present, Campbell asks Anna if she’s willing to take an action that might kill her sister. Anna says Kate wanted it, but admits that she wanted it, too. It would be the worst and best thing to happen to her. Anna told Kate she was going to be stop being a donor. Kate thanked her.

Summary: Sara

Judge DeSalvo moves the proceeding to the hospital so he can talk to Kate. When they arrive, Kate is watching TV with Jesse. Judge DeSalvo speaks with Kate alone. When he leaves Kate’s room, he tells Sara, Brian, and Campbell that he will announce his decision the following morning. Before Julia and Campbell leave, Campbell tells Sara he is sorry. The entire family gathers in Kate’s room. Anna tells Kate that she tried. Jesse jokes with Kate to lighten the mood. Everyone leaves except for Sara. She climbs into bed with Kate and tells her how sorry she is. Kate tells her not to be, because she isn’t.

Analysis

Anna’s revealing to the court that Kate, in fact, convinced her not to donate her kidney, and that Kate did so because she wants to die, dramatically changes our understanding of Anna’s actions in the novel, again demonstrating that appearance and reality don’t always converge. Up until now, Anna appeared to have filed the lawsuit because she wanted to make her own decisions, specifically where they concerned her own body, and because she wanted finally to be able to put her own interests ahead of Kate’s. Although these desires may have played a role in the lawsuit, Anna has still essentially allowed Kate to decide that Anna will not donate her kidney, and Anna has put Kate’s interests first all along. As Anna says, just as she has always been the one who could keep Kate alive, she is also the one who can give Kate what she wants in this case. By winning medical emancipation from her parents, Anna can refuse to donate her kidney, allowing Kate to die. Anna hid this information because she knew revealing Kate’s desire to die would hurt her parents, and Sara in particular.

The reasons behind Anna’s decision to file a petition once again reveal that complex situations have no simple solutions. Anna feels pulled in two directions. She wants control over her life and to not have to consider Kate in every decision she makes, but she also wants to do what she feels is best for Kate. Anna, in satisfying her own desire for independence and giving Kate control over her own death, will lose her sister and closest friend. At the same time, Anna has withheld her reasons for the lawsuit from Sara, causing Sara to direct a great deal of anger and frustration at Anna. But Anna did not tell Sara her real reasons because she wanted to protect her. Possibly the only thing that would hurt Sara more than Anna refusing to give Kate a kidney is the knowledge that Kate feels so unhappy she would prefer to die.

Campbell’s seizure finally uncovers his secret, that he has had epilepsy since a car crash in high school, and this new information makes his motives throughout the novel more clear. We learn, for instance, that Campbell ended his relationship with Julia because he assumed she wouldn’t want to deal with his epilepsy. He loved her independence and didn’t want to interfere with it. Rather than explain the situation to her, he simply stopped seeing her. When she asks Campbell he didn’t tell her what happened, he says he never even told his parents, implying that he feels ashamed of the epilepsy. That embarrassment explains why Campbell does not tell people why he needs a service dog, and why he seems uncomfortable after his seizure in court. These details add even more depth to his character. More and more, we see Campbell to be a vulnerable person who hides his insecurities by keeping people at a distance and using sarcasm to deflect questions, rather than the smug attorney he appeared to be at the beginning of the novel. As Brian suggests after he helps Campbell following his seizure, things aren’t always what they seem.

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