“My Sister’s Keeper” by Cassavetes


The 2009 movie “My Sister’s Keeper” is about a family whose daughter suffers from a serious disease. Out of choices, the family decides to make a “savior sibling” who will donate blood, tissues, and organs to save their daughter. The movie examines several delicate subjects, but the main moral conundrum is whether it is moral to produce savior siblings to aid children with catastrophic illnesses. The fictional Rhode Island village of Upper Darby is where the story is set.

In the film, Kate Fitzgerald, Anna’s older sister, battles bone marrow and blood malignancy acute promyelocytic leukemia. Anna is conceived as a savior sister particularly so she will benefit Kate’s life via the donation of her umbilical cord blood. It will work at first, but throughout Kate’s life, cancer reappears. Both Kate and Anna need significant surgery, which has no guarantee of success because Kate might die from the stress of the procedure regardless, and Anna’s life might be seriously impacted by losing a kidney. Anna, who enjoys playing hockey, asks for medical autonomy with Campbell Alexander’s assistance so she may decide for herself how she will be treated and whether or not she will donate a kidney. In “My Sister’s Keeper,” family relationships and responsibilities are well illustrated in different ways as portrayed by the Fitzgerald household.

The family

Relationships and Roles

“My Sister’s Keeper” Genogram (Appendix)

Anna Fitzgerald

She is the youngest of the major characters, and, is the most dynamic and conflicted. Her entire life has been spent helping Kate with her medical needs. She adores her sister with all of her heart, but as adolescence approaches, she finds it difficult to separate herself from her sister’s disease and influence (Ferraz & Meirelles, 2021). Anna is in good condition and is very active, yet she has had to go from one medical operation to the next.

Sara Fitzgerald

Sara is the three kids’ mother, once worked as a civil attorney, and she is perceptive, dependable, and devoted. She spends all of her time trying to keep Kate alive. When it comes to their mother, Jesse, and Anna have a rocky connection and frequently feel like Kate, who has a lot of medical requirements, is being forgotten about (Rehmann-Sutter & Schües, 2022). Due to the enormous medical burden of Kate’s care, Sara finds it difficult to provide for Jesse, Anna, and Brian on an emotional and physical level.

Brian Fitzgerald

He is a professional firefighter and the father of the Fitzgerald children. Sara frequently uses Brian as a foil hence he is more insightful and compassionate than her at times since he can see the problem from his children’s point of view (Sirait, 2019). Brian nevertheless uses his employment as an escape from the difficulties his family is going through. He can be more forgiving than Sara, but Sara ends up being the emotionally more resilient of the two.

Jesse Fitzgerald

He is the Fitzgerald family’s oldest child and worst offender. Jesse is a tender and emotional character despite having a gruff exterior. He uses his despicable actions to cover up a deep-seated sense of inferiority (Rehmann-Sutter & Schües, 2022). In addition, he frequently feels forgotten by his parents because they give Kate practically all of their attention. As a result, he sometimes acts out to get their attention.

Kate Fitzgerald

She is the main character and focus of numerous of the movie’s events in the middle of Fitzgerald’s children. The story’s central conflict is Kate’s cancer; however, she only provides narration for the prelude and epilogue (Pitri et al., 2018). She has battled cancer for almost her whole life and seems to have accepted the possibility that she would pass away (Williams, 2018). Although the film can catch hints of Kate’s potential, her battle with illness largely determines her personality.


She is the older sister of Sara and is a powerful professional woman without children. She serves as a counterpoint to Sara, who might have been a great lawyer but chose to devote her full attention to raising her children hence; Zanne frequently comforts and supports Brian and Sara (Pitri et al., 2018). For example, when Sara visits the hospital with Kate and Brian will have to work, she monitors Anna and Jesse. A further illustration of the distinctive affinity between sisters may be found in her relationship with Sara.

Social Determinants of Health

The circumstances in which individuals are born, mature, live, work, and age are known as social determinants of health. They include things such as socioeconomic level, literacy, employment, networks of social support, and the availability of medical treatment (Islam, 2019). Furthermore, each surgery in the movie “My Sister’s Keeper” causes physical pain for both Kate and Anna (Williams, 2018). The parents’ relationship worsens as Sara develops an increasing obsession with Kate’s physical requirements (Michailidou, 2019). In actuality, Kate’s life has only been prolonged for a period of twelve or thirteen years after Anna filed the action for medical emancipation. Therefore, the advantages of Kate’s continued existence have all been at the cost of the rest of the household and Kate herself, who experiences significant suffering in the process.


The ability to successfully adjust to severe or hard life circumstances is referred to as resilience. Fitzgerald’s family has overcome the burden of being a caregiver to Kate who has been suffering from leukemia for a long time (Cedraz et al., 2020). The family has taken into consideration that Kate may not survive the illness though they have kept on providing what she needs physically, socially, and financially. Therefore, being able to adapt to both external and internal demands requires flexibility in one’s thinking, feeling, and conduct.

The Individual (Anna Fitzgerald)

Psychosocial Stages of Development

To keep Anna Fitzgerald’s older sister alive, her parents cruelly interrupted and badly planned her childhood. Additionally, to preserve her sister’s life, Anna serves as the body, the resource, and the reservoir from which vital human components are extracted. Therefore, the latency stage (identity vs. identity diffusion), which is represented by Anna’s character, is the most important of Erik Erikson’s eight developmental phases (Gross, 2020). According to Erikson, a child’s feeling of the industry is crucially formed during the latency period, hence in Anna’s situation; her sense of industry was constantly either disrupted or postponed (Gross, 2020). A kid is progressing throughout the identity vs. identity dispersal period if they are learning the social skills required ‘to compete and operate well as an adult in their community (Darling-Fisher, 2019).’ A child’s capacity to master particular abilities becomes crucial, and when the youngster reaches a particular degree of assiduity, that results in feelings of completion or fulfillment, according to Erickson (Gross, 2020).

Furthermore, according to Erikson’s identity vs. identity diffusion stage, a child may develop a sense of inferiority or the belief that they are unworthy (Gross, 2020). That is if they are denied the chance to learn how to master their language or if their attempts to do so are thwarted (Maree, 2021). For instance, from Anna’s point of view, she believes that anyone would attend her burial, whereas trusts that everyone would attend Kate’s funeral.

Health and Wellbeing

Due to the parents’ employment of the rescuer sibling strategy, Anna is shown to physically suffer. To help her sister, she has already invested a lot of time traveling to the hospital for invasive operations such as bone marrow extraction (Michailidou, 2019). The movie makes it clear that Anna has repeatedly undertaken bone marrow extraction surgery for Kate (Sidauruk, 2018). As a result, Anna’s childhood is snatched from her because she has to go to the hospital for procedures to rescue her sister. Moreover, Anna has considerable mental pain in addition to the physical pain she goes through. When the child first learns that she was created just to serve as an organ donor for her older sister, she is devastated (Elfarra, 2018). Anna acknowledges that she was born to save her sister’s life, unlike most babies who are created for no apparent reason.

In addition, Anna must also be responsible for maintaining her sister’s life. The entire family is impacted by Kate’s illness, but Anna is particularly impacted because she must donate pieces of her body to keep her sister alive. The young girl can’t live a typical life because of this added obligation. That action consequently disregarded Anna’s rights to her body and her bodily and mental well-being (Humaeroah, 2021). It is evident from the scenarios portrayed in this film that scientific developments like genetic engineering and organ transplantation raise a variety of serious ethical concerns that society as a whole needs to address.

Health Promotion

The process of empowering people to exert more control over and make improvements to their health is known as health promotion. It shifts away from an emphasis on personal conduct and toward a variety of societal and environmental interventions. As a result, it is important to respect children’s participation in adult-child relationships as they develop and to take into account their thoughts and expressions, even though doing so does not mean that one must fulfill all of their requests (Humaeroah, 2021). Instead, parents and other adults are urged to think about the situation’s relevance, their maturity, and if the topic at hand is in the best interests of the child (O’Loughlin, 2018). In the case of Anna, her parents need to have gotten her permission before subjecting her to various medical procedures.

To prevent Anna from becoming involved in early psychosocial disorders, the parents should have also taken into account Anna’s developmental stages. To ensure Anna’s health promotion, her parents should have looked for other means of meeting Kate’s medical support requirements. That would have enabled Anna to grow consistently through the child’s psychosocial developmental stages and hence develop emotional self-control despite her sister’s dependence. Therefore, that could be evaluated by monitoring Anna’s developmental milestones and ensuring she had what a kid of her age should be having.


Overall, the movie “My Sister’s Keeper” offers a wonderful chance to consider the moral conundrum of utilizing savior siblings. The investigation of the issue from several ethical perspectives reveals that, based on the particular theory used, the parent’s behavior in the movie can be viewed as either ethical or unethical. The film “My Sister’s Keeper” examines some important problems that biotechnology may bring about. Analyzing the situation involving Kate and her sister Anna helps to confront the moral dilemmas that can result from having a rescuer sibling. Although having a genetically compatible organ donor for the ill sibling extends her life, Anna suffers a great deal of physical and emotional pain as a result. This is the circumstance that prompted Anna to sue her parents for medical emancipation.

The fact that Anna won in court shows that her parents committed morally questionable conduct when they used in vitro fertilization to conceive her to save Kate. Everyone in the Fitzgerald family suffers, whether it is physically, mentally, socially, or financially, both inside and outside the home. The parents’ relationship worsens as Sara develops an increasing obsession with Kate’s physical requirements. Additionally, Anna’s position, in which the medical operations have caused her to lose her sense of life’s worthiness, can be explained using Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development, which entail identity vs. identity diffusion.


Cedraz, S. O., Salgado, V. G. B., & Lopes, L. N. M. (2020). “My Sister´s Keeper”: autonomia da vontade de crianças e adolescentes sobre a vida e o corpo e os limites da autoridade parental. Sitientibus, (62).

Darling-Fisher, C. S. (2019). Application of the modified Erikson psychosocial stage inventory: 25 years in review. Western Journal of Nursing Research, 41(3), 431-458.

Elfarra, A. (2018). “My Sister’s Keeper”: compelled donations and a minor’s right to their own body. Child. Legal Rts. J., 38, 160.

Ferraz, M. O. K., & Meirelles, J. M. L. (2021). Ethics and law in “my sister’s keeper”: a legal analysis of the possibility of the savior sibling as a medical resource. Novos Estudos Jurídicos, 26(2), 461-485. Web.

Gross, Y. (2020). Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development. The Wiley Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences: Models and Theories, 179-184.

Humaeroah, H. (2021). Psychological approach on sacrifice conflict of Anna’s characters in the novel “My Sister’s Keeper”. Ganaya: Jurnal Ilmu Sosial dan Humaniora, 4(2), 374-384.

Islam, M. M. (2019). Social determinants of health and related inequalities: confusion and implications. Frontiers in Public Health, 7, 11.

Maree, J. G. (2021). The psychosocial development theory of Erik Erikson: critical overview. Early Child Development and Care, 191(7-8), 1107-1121.

Michailidou, A. (2019). “A designer baby? Yeah, right.” In-vitro fertilization in Jodi Picoult’s “My Sister’s Keeper.” In Women’s Studies International Forum (Vol. 77, p. 102298). Pergamon.

O’LOUGHLIN, S. S. (2018). Lessons from “My Sister’s Keeper”. Family Law Quarterly, 52(1), 203-220.

Pitri, R., Asridayani, A., & Sufiyandi, S. (2018). Moral values analysis on main characters as seen on “My Sister’s Keeper” film by Nick Cassavetes. Krinok: Jurnal Linguistik Budaya, 3(1). Web.

Rehmann-Sutter, C., & Schües, C. (2022). A donor by coincidence or by conception–my sister’s keeper revisited. Stem Cell Transplantations between Siblings as Social Phenomena: The Child’s Body and Family Decision-making, 144, 19.

Sidauruk, F. (2018). Depression in Jesse and Anna characters as seen in Jodi Picoult’s “My Sister’s Keeper” (Doctoral dissertation) Universitas Teknologi Yogyakarta.

Sirait, R. B. (2019). A description of conflicts. Jodi Picoult Novel My Sister’s Keeper.

Williams, K. M. (2018). My Sister’s Keeper: Sibling social support and chronic illness. Journal of Medical Humanities, 39(2), 135-143.


Fitzgerald family genogram

Cite this paper

Select a referencing style


AssignZen. (2023, September 25). “My Sister’s Keeper” by Cassavetes. https://assignzen.com/my-sisters-keeper-by-cassavetes/

Work Cited

"“My Sister’s Keeper” by Cassavetes." AssignZen, 25 Sept. 2023, assignzen.com/my-sisters-keeper-by-cassavetes/.

1. AssignZen. "“My Sister’s Keeper” by Cassavetes." September 25, 2023. https://assignzen.com/my-sisters-keeper-by-cassavetes/.


AssignZen. "“My Sister’s Keeper” by Cassavetes." September 25, 2023. https://assignzen.com/my-sisters-keeper-by-cassavetes/.


AssignZen. 2023. "“My Sister’s Keeper” by Cassavetes." September 25, 2023. https://assignzen.com/my-sisters-keeper-by-cassavetes/.


AssignZen. (2023) '“My Sister’s Keeper” by Cassavetes'. 25 September.

Click to copy

This report on “My Sister’s Keeper” by Cassavetes was written and submitted by your fellow student. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.

Removal Request

If you are the original creator of this paper and no longer wish to have it published on Asignzen, request the removal.