Jodi Picoult’s Sister’s Keeper is an intricate and complicated woven sketch of psychological and ethical trauma that leads the people like a driving force some time without their will and pleasure. The yarn of a relationship is not easy to sort out. It is a story of a girl that is a victim of ethical rules and decides her destination without any care of the role of personal and individual pleasure. It is a story of a family who suffers from the beginning till the end. Lipkien, B.G. (2005) states that Anna Fitzgerald is a 13 years old daughter of Mr. Fitzgerald and Sara who want to save the life of their other daughter Kate who is suffering from acute leukemia and needs a kidney for a chanced survivor. Jodi Picoult has highlighted many social and ethical conceptions by the conflict of the characters who were at the risk of supporting and declining. The major character of the story is Anna who charges her parents for medical emancipation while her parents want to give her kidney to her sister for saving her life. Anna has given much medical assistance to her sister to save her. The story proceeds by the different stages of the lawsuits as Anna is referred to give her kidney as it is a high risk for herself on the other side, The story leads through the stages of the lawsuit, and readers have the chance to understand the events from viewpoints of all of the main characters, including Anna, each of her parents, Kate, Jessie, Campbell and Anna’s guardian ad litem, Julia. Each of these characters offers a very different perspective on the dilemma and, through them, readers can grasp the complexity of the situation. In particular, Anna’s parents, Sarah and Brian, experience the true dichotomy; they love all three of their children, but if Anna withdraws her body from their control, their eldest daughter is likely to die. But even after her death, her body was used for saving the life of Kate that represents the ethical dilemma that an individual suffers due to the ethical responsibilities.
Brief Film Overview:
My Sister’s Keeper is a 2009 American film directed by Nick Cassavetes. It is a story of a girl who suffered a lot in her life even after her sister’s death. Kate Fitzgerald has acute promyelocytic leukemia. As neither her parents, firefighter Brian and lawyer Sara, nor older brother Jesse is a genetic match, Dr. Chance, Kate’s oncologist, suggests designer in vitro fertilization. Anna is born as a savior sister. In the starting 11 years of her life, she donates her blood, compatible organs, stem cells, and tissue to Kate. Anna’s life consists of a series of hospitalizations, growth hormone injections, opioid painkillers, sleeping pills, bleeding, and infections. While her mother does not worry about her pain but also considers it is her ethical duty to serve her family and sister by undergoing different dilemmas. At the age of 15 years old, a new trial begins for both Kate and Anna, in the form of Kate’s kidney failure while Anna is once again expected to donate her kidney. She realizes that she cannot live a healthy life with a single kidney that will be alarming for her unmarried and married life that’s why she cannot want to take risk of her life for the sake of her sister. She sues her parents for medical emancipation and the rights to her own body. Brian realizes her pain while her mother is indigent. Attorney Campbell Alexander agrees to represent Anna as her guardian ad litem, suing for partial termination of parental rights. Campbell’s covert epilepsy lends him sympathy to her predicament. The flashbacks of the story expose how Kate becomes a patient of cancer due to her sexual relationship with a cancer patient Taylor who dies after some days. Kate’s illness has a bad effect on the whole family and particularly on the bitter temperament of Jesse who flees from summer camp. In the end, the whole family goes to the beach for spending a rememberable day. At the hearing, Jesse exposes that Anna is acting under Kate’s instruction. Anna had wanted to give Kate her kidney but Kate, not wanting to live any longer, had persuaded Anna to refuse. Sara is forced to acknowledge what Kate has been trying to tell her: she is ready to die. Kate dies in her sleep later that day with her mother by her side. After Kate’s death, Campbell reports that Anna has won the case. The family moves on with their lives. Sara, who had given up practicing law to look after Kate, returns to work, Brian retires from firefighting and counsels troubled youths, and Jesse receives an art scholarship in New York. Anna reveals that every year on Kate’s birthday, they go to Montana, which was her “most favorite place in the world.” She concludes that she was not born merely to save her sister, she was born because she had a sister, and that their relationship continues even in death.
Adkins, A.W.H.(1972) denotes that virtue ethics is an ethical philosophy that was developed by Aristotle that is consists of the quest and investigation of the life of the moral character. Virtue based ethics is generally declined of the individual as it is asked from the ethical group of the people that is a moral duty of a sister to save her sister, its answer will be affirmative because it is a basic rule of moral and ethic that it is necessary to help a person to the other person while taking a risk of his life. Kanniyakonil (2011) argues that virtuous ethics forces Anna to denote even her physical parts for the life of her sister without any care of her desires and wellness. The principle of totality medically highlights the negativity of the fact that it is cruel to be part of the health donation for others. Utilitarian approaches refer to “The principle of utility states that an action is right if it produces as much or more of an increase in happiness of all affected by it than any alternative action, and wrong if it does not” (Utilitarian, 2011).
No doubt Virtue-based ethics is based on the benefits of one but on the exploitation of the other hence its consequences are the same in different circumstances. Kate suffers due to her health issues and aliment while Anna realistically suffers due to her ethic that has made it a moral duty of Anna to stand by the bed of her sick sister to serve her by her services, blood, and body parts that demonstrates that who ideological and individual difference is the result in the form of suffering and pains of the individual.
Main Claims in Virtue Ethics:
The story “My Sister’s Keeper” deals with the distinctive theoretical claims that build up the building of the plot. It is based on the following pillars that elaborate the main causes and pains that are results of the ethical virtues like Anna cannot escape herself even after her death.
- The Ethics of Breeding
- Genetic Engineering Dilemma
- Savior Sibling’s Rights
The Ethics of Breeding:
The major concern of ethical issues is breeding that convinces Anna to denote her kidney to Kate as her moral duty to serve her family and their needs. It is an ethical issue of breeding because Kate Kate was suffering from promyelocytic leukemia, which is a type of cancer of bone marrow and blood. The doctor of Kate called Anna lifesaver breed for her sister.
Genetic Engineering Dilemma:
Genetic Engineering Dilemma leads towards the prevention of further genetic engineering in case babies could be developing to fit the need of siblings. In this way, it is sure that the prospective for brave new work appears itself as a family taking to genetically develop a sibling sister for Anna, a genetic copy for her business.
Savior Sibling’s Rights:
The term “savior siblings” refers to the use of preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) and other forms of in-vitro fertilization (IVF) to create a sibling to provide biological material (bone marrow, blood, etc.) that can help treat or cure an existing terminally ill child. Reynolds, J.(2009) elaborates that the central premise of My Sister’s Keeper, parents decides to create a savior sibling that is an attempt to save an existing child it is not a fictional fact but also it refers to the multiple embryos that are generally utilized for the production of Vitro fertilization and selected those having the desire of genetic characteristics.
My Sister’s Keeper is a pathetic and painful story of the girl who sufferers due to the developed virtue ethical theoretical framework of Aristotle in which the preaching of the ethical and moral character is constructed for the support of a suffered one but on the other hand, it is the exploitation of an individual who has a top force to sacrifice for the morality and burner voice for family. Anna complains that she cannot join her summer camp due to the sick Kate who needs her blood and bone marrow. As she explains in a pathetic tone, “I’m an allogeneic donor–a perfect sibling match. When Kate needs leukocytes or stem cells or bone marrow to fool her body into thinking it’s healthy, I’m the one who provides them. Nearly every time Kate’s hospitalized, I wind up there too.” (Picoult, 2004: p. 13). She complains when her parents expect her to donate her kidney to Kate after a severe operation but she takes help lawsuits but her death also leads her towards her donation. One thing is clear that if the ethical and morals laws urge to make sacrifices from a person to donate even her physical parts then what is about her rights. My Sister’s Keeper highlights the negative and poisonous effects of modern scientific advancement that has a bitter consequence in the form of conflict and enmity between parents and offspring. As Sarah and Brian conceived Anna almost exclusively for the reason that Kate needed the umbilical cord blood to live. Though they love her while they don’t hesitate to use her as a doner and goes through a painful medical process without any reluctance of conscience. In the novel, Anna speaks to Campbell of her feelings towards her parents:
“They don’t pay attention to me, except when they need my blood or something. I wouldn’t even be alive if it wasn’t for Kate being sick.” (Picoult, 2004: p. 33).
Moral ethics are also adopted only for the benefits while they are neglected and ignored in all fields of life, for example, Kate suffers due to her illicit sexual relationship with her boyfriend that is also immoral and unethical while no one to mend it while only focus on taking sacrifice from Anna as her moral duty for getting her donation as it is her foremost duty and responsibility to serve her family.
In short, “My Sister’s Keeper” is a criticism of the advancement of modern medical techniques as well as of the man-constructed moral ethics that gives a right to one person by neglecting others. Virtue is the name of goodness but it is not an act that is committed by force without the will of the person who is not eager to be part of this ethical virtue. It is selfishness that frequently has become a part of modern society that a living person is forced to die for the life of a dead person.
Adkins, A.W.H.( 1972). Moral Values and Political Behaviour in Ancient Greece from Homer to the End of the Fifth Century
Lipkien, B.G. (2005). Review, My Sister’s Keeper.
Fleming, Michael ( 2008). Breslin, Vassilieva to star in ‘Keeper.
Reynolds, J.(2009). My Sister’s Keeper and Genetic Selection.
BBC Ethics. (2011). Virtue Ethics.
WowEssays. (2019).Thesis On My Sisters Keeper An Ethical Analysis. Retrieved February 22, 2021