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Skloot aims to restore human dignity to Henrietta by revealing the story of the woman who has been overshadowed by her unwitting contribution to science. When Skloot first goes to Clover, Cootie comments that Henrietta’s cells have outlived her memory, which emphasizes that even for the family, the saga of the cells has overshadowed the woman, wife, and mother she was. Day refuses to talk to even Deborah about who her mother was because her death brought too much pain. For the Lacks family, Henrietta’s story is tied to how she died rather than how she lived, similar to the way scientists remember only the cells, not the person. Yet there is a tragic similarity between the cells and the person. Just as HeLa cells helped others at the expense of the emotional wellbeing of the Lacks family, Henrietta’s desire to care for others without focusing on herself led her to hide her cancer for as long as possible, delaying treatment and potentially causing her early death.
Ace your assignments with our guide to The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks!