Literary Analysis—Essay Topics Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper

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Literary Analysis—Essay Topics
Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper

  1. Discuss and analyze character motivation. Analyze the motivation of three separate characters. How do their perspectives and life experiences affect their choices, decisions, and actions? What matters to these characters? What do they want and why? How do they go about getting what they want?

  1. Discuss and analyze characters’ roles. Think about which characters switch roles and the impact that has on the outcome of the novel. What is the significance of the various roles? How do these roles shape and affect the characters? What situations and circumstances place the characters in their various roles?

The roles are:

Troublemaker Sister

Donor Mediator

Peacemaker Worrier

Rescuer Defender


  1. Discuss and analyze your opinion of Sara. Do you feel that the author intended readers to sympathize with or criticize her as a mother and human being? Describe the author’s tone and use of figurative language as she presents Sara to readers and influences their thinking. In what ways does she fail and succeed in her efforts to be a good mother? Is she a static or dynamic character? Explain fully.

  1. Analyze foil pairs. A foil is a character whose personality and attitude is opposite the personality and attitude of another character. Because these characters contrast, each makes the personality of the other stand out. Who are the foil pairs in My Sister’s Keeper? What contrasting elements are used to highlight the differences in the characters? Which character is idealized more in the foil pair(s)? How can you tell? (Note: you could either analyze one foil pair or you could pick three different foil pairs.)

  1. Analyze and discuss the motifs present in the novel. A motif is an idea, a theme that is repeated or carried through an individual work*. Think about astronomy, fire, loyalty, justice (and the legal system), Controversy within the Medical Field (“first do no harm”—the physician’s creed). How are these motifs woven throughout the novel? What is the significance of each? Why?

*Examples of Motif: John Steinbeck's narrator constantly compares Lenny to an animal such as horse or bear throughout the novel Of Mice and Men. There are musical motifs as well. In Jaws, the approach of the shark is always signaled by a strumming of bass strings slowly as the music builds in pitch and speed.
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