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Campbell questions Brian on the stand, confident that Brian will help him win
the case by disagreeing with Sara’s position. Brian admits there have been times
he’s disagreed with Sara, such as the time they needed Anna to donate lymphocytes.
However, he says that while he doesn’t want to hurt Anna, he can’t lose Kate, and
that when your child is dying you do not always have a choice. He notes that he
disagreed with Sara’s decision to start Kate on arsenic therapy, but that Kate ended
up surviving. Although he hates to see Kate suffer, he says he doesn’t want to make
the same mistake twice and agrees with Sara’s wish to have Anna continue as a donor.
Campbell feels stunned by Brian’s reversal. Brian acknowledges he doesn’t know—and
has never known—the right answer, and begins to cry.
During a recess, Anna wonders whether she made Brian fall apart. She says she
had never seen him cry before. Campbell tells her she will need to testify if they
want to win. Anna declines, despite Campbell’s insistence that they will lose. She
yells at Campbell that he needs to find another way to win the case. Campbell
assures Anna that, this time, when she speaks people will listen. Anna refuses, but
when Campbell asks why, she won’t say.
For the first time, Sara narrates in the present. She prepares to question
Brian and notices all of the qualities that made her fall in love with him. She also
notices how much he has changed but doesn’t necessarily for the worse. She begins
questioning him but finds herself talking about a family trip they took. Suddenly
Sara realizes they are no longer pushing each other away but are fighting on the
same side. She feels like none of the past arguments matter. She thinks that they
will have each other to remember what their family used to be like, to share the
fact that they had Kate for sixteen years. Sara decides she doesn’t need to
cross-examine Brian. She simply asks when he is coming home.
Brian and Anna move back home that night. After Brian and Sara tuck Anna in,
Sara tells Anna she is not a bad person because she wants to be herself. She also
says Anna reminds her of herself. Later that night, Brian and Sara make love.
Afterward, Sara tells Brian that they are going to lose her, and she doesn’t know
which daughter she is talking about.
Brian, who until now has acted as Anna’s main ally in the family and whom
Campbell counted on to be the lynchpin of his case, makes a dramatic reversal of
course in this section. Despite saying he would testify that Anna should not have to
give Kate her kidney, Brian says on the stand that he still wants Anna to go through
with the donation. Though Brian doesn’t give a reason for his change of heart, he
hints at a possible reason earlier in his testimony when he says he couldn’t let
Kate die. Brian may want to side with Anna, but perhaps the possibility of Kate
dying seems more real than it previously had. Even as Brian states this opinion,
however, he clearly feels conflicted about the matter. His voice full of emotion, he
says he has considered what is right and wrong in this situation and he cannot come
to a definite conclusion. He then breaks down and begins to cry. Brian’s statement
again raises the theme that no clear line divides right from wrong, and this
ambiguity has taken a considerable emotional toll on Brian and several of the other
characters in the story.
Anna’s refusal to take the stand raises its own set of questions. Up until
this point, Anna has said that she brought the lawsuit because she wants to finally
have a voice and to be the one who decides what happens to her body. She resents the
fact that nobody has ever asked whether she wants to be Kate’s donor. Now that Anna
has the opportunity to state her opinion publicly, however, she backs down. Instead,
she tells Campbell, another adult, to speak on her behalf. Anna’s behavior appears
to contradict what she says she wants. Her words to Campbell indicate that something
more than simple shyness drives her refusal to testify. She tells him that there are
just some things she doesn’t want to talk about, though she won’t elaborate. She
evidently wants to keep her reasons secret.
The epigraph that begins the chapter comes from Shakespeare’s “King Henry VI,”
and it refers to the fact that a small fire, though easily put out, can cause
lasting pain that an entire river can’t alleviate. In the context of the novel, the
quotation appears to refer to the fact that even though the trial is near its
conclusion and Brian has testified that he agrees with Sara’s position (mending the
rift that had grown between them), the Fitzgerald family will still have to deal
with the aftermath of the trial and Kate’s cancer. The problems caused by the
lawsuit may be nearing their end, but the pain it has caused will linger