Teaching Students About My Sisters Keeper
Teaching literature is a powerful tool for instructors to impart life lessons, provoke intellectual discussions, and foster empathy in students. One such compelling narrative can be found in Jodi Picoult’s “My Sister’s Keeper.” This article explores the thematic complexities of the novel and provides insights for instructors looking to teach students about this profound piece of literature.
“My Sister’s Keeper” delves into the lives of the Fitzgerald family, focusing primarily on 13-year-old Anna, who was conceived as a bone marrow match for her sister, Kate, who suffers from leukemia. The story unfolds as Anna sues her parents for medical emancipation, seeking legal rights to make decisions regarding her body and medical treatments.
Themes and Discussions
1. Ethical dilemmas: Through Anna’s legal battle, “My Sister’s Keeper” brings forth complex ethical dilemmas surrounding medical decision-making, parental rights, and individual autonomy. Teachers can encourage students to contemplate the choices of each character and discuss possible alternative options.
2. Family dynamics: The novel highlights the complexities within families faced with making difficult decisions. Students can discuss how each member of the Fitzgerald family copes with Kate’s illness and the implications of their actions on one another.
3. Personal identity: Anna’s struggle with her role as a savior sibling prompts students to reflect on their understanding of personal identity. Instructors can question how much control people have over their lives and whether circumstances define or influence who they become.
4. Legal aspects: Introducing legal concepts such as medical emancipation and power of attorney contributes to interesting and informative classroom discussions. This encourages students to explore the judicial system pertaining to medical cases and individual rights.
5. Multifaceted narratives: Picoult tells the story through various perspectives, providing readers an intricate understanding of each character. Teachers can ask students to analyze how these multiple viewpoints contribute to the story’s development and empathize with each character.
1. Debates: Divide students into groups, assigning specific stances on moral, ethical, and legal dilemmas presented in the novel. Debates encourage critical thinking, creative problem-solving, and respectful communication.
2. Writing exercises: Encourage students to write essays, reflection papers, or journal entries from the viewpoint of a particular character or regarding a specific event in the novel. This fosters deeper comprehension of the narrative, builds empathy, and enhances writing skills.
3. Role-Play: Assign students roles as different characters, exploring alternative outcomes or resolutions to dilemmas in the story. This immersive activity expands analytical thinking and drives understanding of various perspectives.
4. Media comparison: Compare different adaptations of “My Sister’s Keeper,” including the film adaptation directed by Nick Cassavetes. Students can evaluate discrepancies between various forms and analyze how they shape the overall message.
5. Guest speakers: Invite relevant experts such as medical professionals or legal scholars to discuss real-life applications of topics presented in the book. Establishing connections between fiction and reality elevates understanding and stimulates curiosity.