December 9, 2011
Adolescence development relies upon many factors. In order to accurately examine its growth, it is useful to look at some developmental theories. Anna Fitzgerald is thirteen years old; however, she is not like any other teenager with some ordinary problems. Anna was born for a specific purpose she was born to save her sister’s life and to serve as a matched tissue donor. When Anna was born, her umbilical cord was collected and since then she was constantly donating blood, stem cells or bone marrow. That resulted in her undergoing more serious and risky procedures. But when she reaches the age 13, she is being told to donate one of her kidneys. Aware of the fact that she was conceived to be a perfect match and ongoing donor for her sister, she wants to have the chance of living her own life. This is when Anna decides to hire a lawyer and to sue her parents to be “medically emancipated” from her family. Because she loves her sister unconditionally, Anna struggles with her decision. Developmental theories of Piaget, Ericson, Marcia and Freud are very useful, in order to examine the development of Anna Fitzgerald, the character from “My Sister’s Keeper”.
Nature vs. nurture is the first theory that can be applied to Anna’s life. Nature refers to the human biological inheritance and nurture to the environmental experience (Santrock, MacKenzie-Rivers, Malcomson & Leung, 2011). Since she was born for a specific purpose, her parents had already planned her future. To some point of her life, Anna felt it was normal to be a donor and to be in the hospital three to four days a week. Whenever her sister had an emergency, Anna had to be present. The environment Anna lives in is unusual for a teenager. Anna thinks of herself as a total freak. As it is common for teenagers to complain about her look, she states that God must have had some sort of a moody day on her birthday. She sees a big picture of her household. She knows that the environment which she was born in, did not allow her to be a kid. She had to mature fast and act as an adult.
It is clear that Anna is going through identity crisis of moratorium. Moratorium stage according to James Marcia is defined by individual exploring different possibilities, yet not being ready to make a commitment to one. In Anna’s case she had plenty of ideas who she would like to be. When asked by her lawyer, where she sees herself in ten years period, she responds: “There was a time when, like Kate, I’d wanted to be a ballerina. But since then I’ve gone through a thousand different stages: I wanted to be an astronaut. I wanted to be a paleontologist. I wanted to be a backup singer for Aretha Franklin, a member of the Cabinet, a Yellowstone National Park ranger. Now, based on the day, I sometimes want to be a microsurgeon, a poet, a ghost hunter” (Picoult, 2004, p. 412). What strikes the most in her young, yet mature personality is that in ten years period, she would like to be Kate’s sister.
Based on Piaget operational stage theory, Anna is clearly capable of using abstract thought. Abstract thought is an adolescence possibility to think outside of the box and see likely outcomes and consequences. Anna knew exactly that by starting the lawsuit, she has a chance of wining the right to decide for her own. Deep inside her, she still wants to help her sister, but knowing the fact that she cannot make her own decisions, made her to go to the extreme and sue her own parents. She is aware of the fact that her decision may have a huge impact on her sister’s life. Perhaps, she will die; however, she is looking at the long term goal. How is the transplant going to affect her life? Is she going to be able to function normally? What if something goes wrong? All this questions were building up inside of her head and did not want to stop....