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My Sister's Keeper
Transcript of My Sister's Keeper
Mother of Jesse, Kate, and Anna
Married to Brian Fitzgerald
A strong mother, to the point that her single-minded desire to help Kate can hurt others
Narrates part of the story--starting in 1990 and working her way forward
Formerly a practicing attorney Anna to Campbell
"I want to sue [my parents] for the rights to my own body" (19).
This passage is the moment when Anna asks Campbell to represent her in the case. It is the formal declaration of her desire to choose her own life, even if that choice directly effects Kate's life. Once I started My Sister's Keeper, I couldn't put it down. As I read, I contemplated what I would do in Anna's situation, or Sara's or any of the other characters. Both the novel and the movie follow the same basic pattern. They display the moral struggle raging through the Fitzgerald family as Kate continues to battle cancer and Anna seeks medical emancipation. There are several notable differences, though. Picoult, Jodi. "My Sister's Keeper." New York: Washington Square Press, 2004. Print. Anna Fitzerald is a "designer baby." When her older sister, Kate, was diagnosed with Leukemia at age two, Anna's parents made sure their next child could donate her umbilical cord blood to Kate. A few years later Anna was asked to donate blood for Kate--a short time after that it was bone marrow.
Now 14, Anna asks lawyer Campbell Alexander to represent her. She wants medical emancipation. Kate is dying and needs a kidney transplant to have any hope of survival--Anna is the only one who can donate.
Because she's under 18, Anna is not the one who has the final say in the donation. She feels she should be. Sara and Brian Fitzgerald's love for Anna, Kate, and Jesse is unconditional, as any parents should be, but
can a parent live with the knowledge that they didn't do everything in their power to save their dying child? What if it involves taking away from another child?
The whole family struggles to find answers to unanswerable questions throughout this heart-breaking novel. In the end, the court rules in favor of Anna. Sadly, she never gets a chance to excercise her new-found rights to her own body, however. She is killed in a car accident on the way to the hospital to see Kate.
Anna's last gift to Kate is her kidney. Setting: Rhode Island, 2004 (with flashbacks reaching back 14 years). Brian Fitzgerald
Father of Jesse, Kate, and Anna
Married to Sara
Firefighter and amateur astronomer
Has an easier time seeing things from Anna's point of view than Sara
Narrates some of the story in current time Jesse
Oldest of the Fitzgerald children
Feels neglected, insufficient and ignored
Rebellious, destructive, delinquent behavior to gain a feeling of importance
Narrates very little of the story Kate
Middle Fitzgerald child
Diagnosed with Lukemia when she was 2
Narrates the epilogue
Feels like she is not doing her job of "big sis" because Anna is often the one giving to her
Seems to have come to terms with dying Anna
Youngest Fitzgerald child
The "constant" in the Fitzgerald life
Struggles with the knowledge that she is the only one who can give Kate a kidney, saving Kate, but giving up a lot herself
Seemingly first act of rebellion is to sue for rights to her own body
Narrates much of the story
Kate's "keeper" Anna is the one able to keep Kate alive--explaining the chosen title, "My Sister's Keeper" Campbell Alexander
Lawyer who represents Anna
In the beginning, arrogant and seemingly self-centered
He had built up walls to keep from getting close to people
Uses a service dog, Judge, for whom he provides laughable explainations for having
In the end, he creates a strong bond with Anna and begins to address unanswered feelings for Julia
The reader learns he's epileptic in the last chapters--providing an explaination for Judge Julia Ramano
Anna's appointed guardian ad litem
Dated Campbell in high school
Genuinely cares for people
Strong personality Anna
"My mother came into our room when Kate and I were just hanging out. She had my father with her, which meant we were in for a more heavy discussion than who-left-the-sink-running-by-accident. "[the doctor] wont recommend the procedure unless the kidney comes from Anna."
I started thinking about this...would it hurt? Could people live with just one kidney? [...] Where would I get MY spare? Before I could ask any of this, Kate spoke, "I'm not doing it again, all right? I'm sick of it...Just leave me alone, will you?" (251)
This passage is written in past-tense. Anna is filling us in on the big picture of the story. There is a lot of foreshadowing in the simple words. Anna wonders what it will be like to give up a kidney and Kate says she doesn't want it (although, at the time, no one thinks anything of her comment and it gets dismissed as an outburst). Sara 1990
He faces me..."We can't just replace Kate if she dies," he says...
"I know. So we'll just have to make sure that she doesn't" (72).
Written in real tense but is a flashback from Sara's narration, this passage shows Sara's determination and willingness to do whatever she can to make Kate live. It is then that she suggested they engineer a child to be a perfect match for Kate. Brian
"There's a tiny space where I can nearly fit myself, one that puts me up against the tempered glass, spiderweb-shattered, stained red with blood. And just as Red forces the driver's side door free with the Jaws and a dog comes whimpering out, I realize that the face pressed up against the other side of the broken window is Anna's" (314).
A parents worst nightmare just came true. Brian discovered that the car accident he responded to as a firefighter was one that involved his daughter, who was riding with Campbell. Anna, who at this time has medical emancipation, does not make it. Thus her hard decision of giving her kidney to Kate is made for her. As the plot unfolded and I got to know the characters better, I still could not decide what I would do in Anna's situation. It wasn't until it was revealed that Kate didn't want the possibly life-saving kidney that Anna's decision to have the power to keep her kidney becomes increasingly noble. The ending was agonizing--which proves how well written it is. The pain that Brian felt at finding his daughter's bloody body up against the windshield is something I hope I never have to experience. Unfortunately, I don't see a "happy" way to end this book. Something--more accurately, someone--has to give. Realistically, I feel like it's too neat of an ending for Kate. She was deathly sick with leukemia with little chance of recovery from a kidney transplant. Yet, after she receives Anna's organ she makes a full recovery and goes into remission.
I also thought the confusing romantic relationship between Campbell and Julia was a bit too much. It was distracting from the rest of the story and added complications. Although, the back story did greatly help explain Campbell's character so I see why it's in the book. I believe the novel would appeal to many different groups of people. It has teenage rebellion, medial ethics, sister and family dynamics and no shortage of heart-gripping moments as the Fitzgeralds struggle with a sister, friend, daughter, loved one, dying of cancer. Readers should have a high maturity level. I would not recommend it to most middle school aged children. "My Sister’s Keeper." Dir. Nick Cassavetes. New Cinema, 2009. DVD Novel: Jesse is a teenage rebel. He sets fires in empty buildings that Brian has to put out.
Movie: Jesse is a much "smaller" character and doesn't have the all-out rebellion characteristic. It is known he is dyslexic. Novel: Julia Ramano is Anna's guardian ad litem appointed by the court to use an unbiased point of view of their situation to recommend what is best for Anna.
Movie: Julia Ramano's character is deleted completely Novel: Anna dies in a car crash. Her kidney is donated to Kate, who makes it through the risky surgery and goes into remission.
Movie: Kate's long battle with cancer ends when she fades away after expressing her peace with death. Novel: Campbell has sharp edges and gives non-accurate retorts when questioned about his guide dog, Judge. He and Anna become close.
Movie: Campbell is less of a main character. He has a softer exterior. Novel: Kate kisses Taylor--another cancer patient--after the hospital prom.
Movie: Kate and Taylor sneak off and have sex. Novel: When Kate becomes upset while looking for a prom dress, Anna makes her feel better by joking around. Kate wants nothing to do with wigs.
Movie: Sara suggests a wig when Kate becomes upset over lack of hair. Kate happily accepts. Novel: No mention of Kate wanting to go to the beach one last time.
Movie: Kate requests to go to the beach. Brian makes sure it's okay with her doctors before taking her--against Sara's wishes. Sara joins them at the beach later. I believe the producer made these changes to take away some of the layers of the story so it could be produced as a movie. The changes in these characters allow Anna's internal struggle and the tough family situation take main stage. I believe taking away Anna and Kate pulling a small prank on the hairdresser takes away from the relationship that Anna and Kate have. I suspect it was taken out because there was no easy way to fit such a small scene into the existing format. I believe this change is Hollywood trying to make a movie more interesting. However, in this case it is a mistake. The actions do not fit the characters. A close-up shot is used when Brian talks to the doctor about taking Kate to the beach. It is at eye level and draws the attention to the conversation and emotions playing on Brian's face as he asks if he can do this one last thing for his daughter. When Kate comes down the steps dressed for prom, new wig and all, a low-angle, long shot is used. There is also use of high-key lighting. Altogether, it creates a look of elegance that adds to Kate's happy moment. Presentation created by Leah McQuone I believe the ending was changed to take less of a sudden turn, especially since the movie focused more on Kate's cancer and the emotional struggle that wrapped its self around Anna--not as much the individual problems of the rest of the characters. Low-key lighting was used for the scene of Kate's funeral to create a sad, dreary and depressed atmosphere. An establishing shot is used as the funeral procession pulls into the graveyard. The movie used more close-up and medium shots than any other type. The whole movie has a serious tone and these shots help convey the seriousness, and often agony and confusion, present. Tissues may be needed--you have been warned. I recommend "My Sister's Keeper", both the novel and the movie. Works Cited