Study Guide

My Sister's Keeper Identity

By Jodi Picoult

Identity

As we got older, I didn't seem to exist, except in relation to her. (Prologue.2)

Right at the starting line, we see that identity is going to be an issue for Anna over the course of the novel. She wants to be her own person, not just known as "Cancer girl's sister" or "That girl played by Abigail Breslin in the movie."

"Don't mess with the system, Anna," [Jesse] says bitterly. "We've all got our scripts down pat. Kate plays the Martyr. I'm the Lost Cause. And you, you're the Peacekeeper." (1.1.68)

Do you agree with Jesse here? Do all the characters easily fall into these assigned roles? And if so, does that make Anna Nicole Kidman? Oh wait—that's the Peacemaker.We just wanted to say Anna Nicole Kidman. Talk about an identity crisis.

When you only have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. (1.2.1)

This little phrase says a lot about Campbell, and how he conducts his business… and his life. At first he sees Anna as a nail (no, not in that way), as a case that he can take on. It takes him a while to see her as a person.

I think half the battle is figuring out what works for you, and I am much better at being a mother than I ever would have been as a lawyer. (1.3.15)

Sara has chosen to identify herself as "mother" and she takes the title seriously. Do you think she's a good mother? And if not, does that make her a lousy attorney?

Either this girl loses her sister, I think, or she's going to lose herself. (3.5.61)

Anna's identity is so inextricably linked to Kate's that she runs the risk of becoming Kate. But no, as we've said before, Anna needs to find a way to separate herself from Kate to become herself, and the only way to do that might be for Kate to die.

I have a feeling that if I really try to figure out who I am without Kate in the equation, I'm not going to like who I see. (4.4.4)

Maybe this explains why Anna waffles back and forth so much on her decision. How much will her sister's death affect her? Okay, she's not as selfish as we're making her out to be.

"You don't know what it's like to being the kid whose sister is dying of cancer." (6.4.73)

Again, we only see Anna in relation to her sister. We can't imagine how many times she's called "the one with the dying sister" instead of "Anna."

It's getting harder and harder to be a bastard. (9.2.1)

It seems that "bastard" is Campbell's self-assigned label (at least until he gets so good at the part that everyone else starts calling him one, too). But he puts up this front to protect himself and his soft gooey center.

"There are several studies that indicate children who serve as donors have higher self-esteem, and feel more important within the family structure. They consider themselves superheroes, because they can do the one thing no one else can." (9.2.21)

Campbell agrees that this doesn't sound like Anna at all—a "study" can't accurately describe the identity of a group any more than a stereotype can.

"You deserved better than some freak who might fall down frothing at the mouth any old minute." (9.7.13)

Anna defines herself by her sister's illness; Campbell defines himself by his own. And he adds the moniker "freak" to it, which doesn't do his self-esteem any favors.

I am a monster. (9.8.62)

Campbell calls himself a freak; Anna calls herself a monster. Yep, these guys are two of a kind. Anna feels like a monster because she's basically killing her sister… even though that's what Kate wants her to do. Maybe making such a difficult choice makes her a saint instead of a monster.

"Ten years from now, in my opinion, I think [Anna's] going to be pretty amazing." (10.6.1)

This is the first time anyone has acknowledged that Anna will still be alive in ten years. It's almost as though people think that since Kate isn't expected to last that long, Anna won't be around then either.

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