My Sisters Keeper: Identity And Its Role In Our Sense Of Belonging
How a person lives their life, their morals and values, their ethnicity, beliefs and numerous other attributes make up who a person is, it forms their identity. Who you are to others and who you are to yourself is what makes up your character. Whether you’re a sister, a brother, parent, teacher, each of these roles has its own meaning and plays an important part in making up an individual’s identity and gives a sense of belonging. The relationship between identity and belonging goes both ways, belonging to a group can influence our identity by creating new experiences. On the other hand, our identity - how we identify ourselves can have guidance on who and what we belong to. My sister’s keeper explores the idea of the impact our relationships have on our identity and subsequently how this influences our sense of belonging.
Your identity starts from the moment you are born, you are given a name and a family, this is the start of the journey to who we are. My sister’s keeper explores the idea of the relationship between the main character; Anna and her family and how this affects herself impression of her place in that said family. The identity Anna is given even before her genetically modified conception, was that of a possible treatment for her dying sister. When Anna reaches the age of 13, she begins to reflect more deeply about her life and her purpose. At one point in the movie Anna says to herself “sometimes I wonder what would have happened if Kate had been healthy. I’d probably still be up in heaven or whatever…”. Anna begins to second guess and challenge whether she really belongs to this family, is truly loved by that family or is she just there to save her sister? We follow her as she goes through court to be granted medical emancipation from her parents. How does these actions effect annas relationship with her family and therefore her place of belonging?
The Fitzgerald family additionally has another child, a boy named Jesse brother to Anna and Kate. Jesses character in My Sisters Keeper represents how our limitations and or abilities create a barrier that prevents someone from belonging. Like Anna, Jesse feels less important than his sister because he isn’t sick “while everyone was so worried about my blood counts... they barely even noticed that Jesse was dyslexic”. But unlike Anna, Jesse isn’t able to save his sister. These scenes in the movie strongly convey the power our family life has on our sense of belonging.
Our relationships with the people around us build the foundation of belonging. Anna’s and Kates relationship is nothing but normal. Anna is a treatment for Kate, her last chance at surviving. What Anna offers Kate puts stress on their relationship and creates speculation of her place as a sister. Does Kate love Anna like a sister loves a sister or does she love Anna for saving her life and giving her ‘spare parts’? Kate however does not view Anna like this, she tells her sister to get the medical emancipation so that Anna does not have to give up her kidney to her “I don’t mind my disease killing me, but it’s killing my family too.” Kate wants Anna to grow up and do things like play sports, have kids, drink etc. this shows us that to Kate, Anna isn’t just ‘spare parts’ but a sister who belongs to the family, belongs in Kates life and that Kate doesn’t want Anna to be impaired her whole life just for her. Kates character shows us that how we see ourselves – how we identify ourselves is not always how others view us.
What does your identity mean to you is a hard question to answer. Many people struggle with their identity in this eura. Whether you struggle with your family, sexuality, gender, friends and countless other measures your identity is forever changing throughout life. In the film Anna struggles with identity herself. What does she perceive herself to be? A sister, a loved member of a family, a friend? Or does she see herself as an embryo modified in a dish who is only here for her sister? No matter what Anna is told, there is always that voice in her head telling her that she has no place. In this day and age, in real life we all have this voice but sometimes it’s not in our head. With the use of social media we are constantly being told that we aren’t skinny enough, too thin, we are ugly or we just don’t belong and it is never ending. With all of this background noise the fight with our self-identity becomes harder and harder as we find it difficult to accept ourselves.
The book My Sister's Keeper demonstrates the idea of identity and the role it plays in our sense of belonging. It makes us to consider Anna’s situation and the effect it has on her life and how she fits into that life. Anna’s relationship with her family, more specifically between her sister and herself takes her on a journey to find herself a place of belonging. The existential question consistently being asked is “who am I” it is a question that only you can find yourself. Not by your parents telling you what to do with your life, not what makes you ‘cool’ but what YOU believe in, what makes YOU happy, what makes YOU feel like you belong.