The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks By Rebecca Skloot

1609 Words Dec 4th, 2014 7 Pages
In her book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot discusses how the unfortunate diagnosis of cancer for one woman resulted in one of the most influential discoveries in the biomedical sciences. The use of HeLa cells has played a role in some of the largest scientific breakthroughs since George Gey discovered how well they can grow in culture. On the other hand, Skloot’s work also provides a look at the lives of Henrietta Lacks’ descendants. One characteristic that everyone in this family shares is a dedication to religion and spirituality. This juxtaposition between science and religion presents the body and its constituent cells in a unique way. It provides multiple dimensions to how people view bodies. Specifically, Skloot’s depiction of HeLa cells presents the body and its individual cellular components as entities that can be viewed as both scientific and spiritual beings simultaneously. A major theme throughout the book is the anthropomorphizing of HeLa cells. In one particular instance, Skloot describes the first time that George Gey sent HeLa cells to a colleague through the mail. She writes, “Then he typed up careful instructions for feeding and handling, and sent Mary to the post office to ship them to Scherer in Minnesota” (95). The two key words in this sentence are “feeding” and “handling.” First, the word “feeding” implies that the cell can actually eat, but in reality, this is not the case. With a professional background in science,…
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