Please wait while we process your payment
If you don't see it, please check your spam folder. Sometimes it can end up there.
Don’t have an account?
Create Your Account
Sign up for your FREE 7-day trial
Already have an account? Log in
Choose Your Plan
$4.99/month + tax
$24.99/year + tax
Save over 50% with a SparkNotes PLUS Annual Plan!
for a group?
Get Annual Plans at a discount when you buy 2 or more!
$18.74 /subscription + tax
Subtotal $37.48 + tax
on 2-49 accounts
on 50-99 accounts
Want 100 or more?
for a customized plan.
You'll be billed after your free trial ends.
7-Day Free Trial
Renews February 28, 2024
February 21, 2024
Discounts (applied to next billing)
This is not a valid promo code.
(one code per order)
Annual Plan - Group Discount
SparkNotes Plus subscription is $4.99/month or $24.99/year as selected above. The free trial period is the first 7 days of your subscription. TO CANCEL YOUR SUBSCRIPTION AND AVOID BEING CHARGED, YOU MUST CANCEL BEFORE THE END OF THE FREE TRIAL PERIOD. You may cancel your subscription on your Subscription and Billing page or contact Customer Support at email@example.com. Your subscription will continue automatically once the free trial period is over. Free trial is available to new customers only.
For the next 7 days, you'll have access to awesome PLUS stuff like AP English test prep, No Fear Shakespeare translations and audio, a note-taking tool, personalized dashboard, & much more!
You’ve successfully purchased a group discount. Your group members can use the joining link below to redeem their group membership. You'll also receive an email with the link.
Members will be prompted to log in or create an account to redeem their group membership.
Thanks for creating a SparkNotes account! Continue to start your free trial.
Your PLUS subscription has expired
Is Sara’s and Brian’s choice to conceive Anna to be a genetic
match for Kate morally justified?
How one answers that question may depend entirely on one’s own sense
of morality. The fact that Sara and Brian used science to conceive Anna
raises its own set of issues. Sara and Brian intervened in the natural
process of pregnancy to choose the specific embryo they wanted to fertilize.
They sought an embryo that matched Kate genetically, because they wanted to
create a sibling for Kate who could serve as her donor. Although Brian
argues in their television interview that he and Sara didn’t choose their
baby’s eye color or IQ or any of the other traits that parents often select,
they did use the same process involved in selecting those characteristics to
choose a different set of characteristics. The ends may have been different,
but the means were the same.
Perhaps more importantly, Sara and Brian deliberately created a child
as a donor for their existing daughter, Kate. That act lead directly to
Sara’s mindset in which she considered her new child not as an individual
but essentially as a form of treatment for Kate. Just after Anna was born,
Sara’s first words to the doctors were to be careful with the umbilical
cord, which they needed for Kate, not to ask about her newborn. Brian says
at one point that they intended Anna’s use as a donor to end with her birth,
but clearly that didn’t happen. Throughout her life, Anna acted as Kate’s
donor, and although her parents did love her and treat her as a person, to
some degree her wishes always remained subordinate to Kate’s medical
What is the significance of fire in the story?
Both Jesse and Brian have close relationships to fire. Brian, for
instance, works as a firefighter, putting out fires and at times saving
people from burning buildings. Jesse, we learn, began playing with matches
young, possibly because he recognized that fire played a central role in
Brian’s career, and he turns out to be the arsonist setting fires all over
the city. For both of them, fire represents a destructive and ultimately
uncontrollable force, and they often treat it as a symbol of Kate’s cancer.
Jesse, because he feels powerless to stop Kate’s cancer, turns to using fire
as an outlet for his feelings and as a way to gain Brian’s attention. Brian,
however, battles constantly to limit the destruction fire can cause, in much
the same way that he seeks to limit the pain that cancer inflicts on
Burning buildings appear multiple times in the story as metaphors for
Kate’s situation. The first time we witness Brian saving someone from a
fire, for instance, he thinks to himself that he became a firefighter to
save people, but that he should have been more specific about whom he wanted
to save. The comment implies that Kate is the person he wants to save, but
also that he feels powerless to do so. Later, during the trial, Sara
compares the way she views Kate and Anna to having a child trapped in a
burning building. Anna’s ability to act as a donor for Kate is like having
one child who knows how to lead the other child out of the fire. Although
Sara doesn’t want to put Anna at risk, she knows the only way she can keep
Kate alive is by sending Anna to get her. In other words, although using
Anna as a donor causes her pain and would put her at risk if she were to
donate her kidney, it’s the only way to save Kate.
Astronomy and the stars play a part in this story, from Brian’s
hobby to the origin of Anna’s name. In what way do these things relate to the
action in the story?
References to astronomy appear throughout the novel, but particularly
in Brian’s narration and conversations. Brian tells Julia, for instance,
that he and Sara named Anna after Andromeda. Significantly, one story about
Andromeda says she is caught in the sky between her parents, just as Brian
takes Anna’s side in the lawsuit while Sara opposes Anna’s position. Brian
also describes the concept of twin stars, which orbit each other so tightly
that they can appear from a distance to be one star. The metaphor refers to
Anna and Kate, whose lives intertwine so greatly because of Anna’s role as
Kate’s donor that their identities seem inseparable. Just as in the case of
twin stars one star can outshine the other, Kate draws all the attention of
Brian and Sara because of her sickness, leaving Anna unnoticed.
Moreover, Brian describes to Julia the existence of dark matter, which
cannot be seen directly but can be detected by the gravitational pull it has
on the visible objects around it. Dark matter, in this context, symbolizes
the hidden motivations of various characters in the story. These motivations
cannot be seen directly, but their presence can be detected by their effects
on the behavior of the characters. Campbell, for instance, hides his
epilepsy throughout the story, yet it influences his relationship with
Julia. Jesse, similarly, tries to hide his feelings of powerlessness against
Kate’s cancer, yet those feelings become apparent through his acts of arson.
Lastly, Anna does not reveal that she wants to help Kate die because she
knows Kate no longer wants to live and because she feels it would free her
from her dependence on Kate, yet that desire prompts her to file the lawsuit
that sets the novel’s main action in motion.