Study Guide

My Sister's Keeper Suffering

By Jodi Picoult

Suffering

Cancer.

The word doesn't exactly conjure up images of smiley face balloons, fireworks, and pink hearts. It makes you think of pain and suffering, and some of that pain and suffering is from what it takes to treat cancer, not the cancer itself. Chemotherapy isn't exactly pleasant.

My Sister's Keeper shows what it's like not just to be a cancer patient, but to be a cancer patient's mother, or father, or brother, or genetically engineered organ donor. Something we might all be able to relate to. (Well, except for the genetically engineered part.) And no matter what role you play, suffering abounds.

Questions About Suffering

  1. What is the most painful part of the donation process for Anna? The actual pain, or the fact that she doesn't have a choice?
  2. Why does Campbell hide his illness?
  3. Does Sara's overprotective nature lessen Kate's suffering or augment it? (Think about the time she doesn't tell Kate that Taylor's died, for example.)

Chew on This

The pain Anna suffers at the hands of her doctors is worse than the pain Kate suffers, because Anna doesn't get any physical benefit from all the injections.

Relationships cause suffering in this book, too. The fact that Campbell hides his illness causes Julia all sorts of relationship pain that wouldn't happen if he had just been honest years ago.