The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks Literary Analysis

Improved Essays
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is the story of a lower class, poor tobacco farmer, Henrietta Lacks who unknowingly has helped millions of people, after her death. Henrietta Lacks had discovered that a small “knot” in her stomach area, was actually cervical cancer, but the novel does not focus on her cancer, rather it focuses on her life, death, the issues her family faced with the medical field, and how her cells have saved the lives of millions of people. This novel is split into three individual sections, Life, Death, and Immortality, which all cover different aspects of Henrietta’s story. The first and second parts of this novel, Life and Death, are pretty similar to the novels and stories that we have read in class, especially Beloved. …show more content…
It mainly focuses on the medical process behind culturing Henrietta’s cancer cells, named HeLa cells, and how Henrietta and her family faced obscurity from the medical community. This is unique to me because it not only touches with medical ethics and but it also provides some scientific insight into how these cells function and how they can be used for good. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks was an extremely fun and interesting book for me to read. The plot of the novel not only focuses on the life and struggles of Henrietta and her family, but it also brings to life the topic of medical ethics, which is a topic that I find extremely fun to read. The ethical question this novel brings to life, is on if it was just for Dr. Gey to extract and …show more content…
This particular question can be seen in various situations today, for example, the whole issue involving stem cells. In order to perform stem cell research, researchers have to extract them from human embryos. Although they have to be taken from humans who haven 't had a chance at life, stem cells have been know to help or cure many diseases that plague millions of people worldwide, so the idea of the “needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few” is seen not only in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, which takes place in the 1950’s, but it is also seen in modern medicine. Another ethical question that the novel brings to life, is the treatment of African-Americans and other minorities in regards to medical treatment and care. When Henrietta first goes to John Hopkins for the knot that she feels on her stomach, the doctor who saw her did an unprofessional diagnosis of her and put her through test for, a common African American disease at the time, syphilis. It was only after the treatment didn 't work, that the

Related Documents

  • Improved Essays

    Even with all the technology advances, cancer is still a complicated and complex illness that even scientists don’t fully understand to this day. Overall, I really enjoyed this film and learning about the significance of HeLa cells on medical research being done involving cancer. The HeLa cells are now being recognized as belonging to Henrietta Lack’s and in order to use HeLa cells for research today, you have to sign consent forms prior to the use of the cells. Henrietta Lack’s is finally getting the recognition she deserves for the significance that her cells have played in the scientific…

    • 1015 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Superior Essays

    In some parts of the Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, a comparison is shown between what the doctors were looking for and what the family was looking for. For instance, to help solve the contamination problem with HeLa, Victor McKusick said it would be possible if they got the DNA from Henrietta 's children. When Susan Hsu asked to come to draw blood, the family thought they wanted to test the children to see if they got that cancer that killed Henrietta. What they didn 't know was that the doctor was using it to test the family for genetic markers. All this time, Deborah believed that she might have cancer.…

    • 1470 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Superior Essays

    Morality is defined by discerning right from wrong, which is something scientists who conducted human research were unable to do. In the book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, written by Rebecca Skloot, Henrietta Lacks is an African-American woman who developed an aggressive form of cervical cancer. Although she is treated for the cancer, the treatment is executed much later than if she had been a white woman. During her first operation to treat the cancer, the surgeon removed two pieces of tissue from her cervix to give to George Gey, the head of tissue research at Johns Hopkins. The story unfolded after Henrietta died months later, and then after a couple decades the family began to discover the truth of her death, and the cells which…

    • 1774 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Improved Essays

    At this time doctors were trying to grow cells to help cure disease. So, when Henrietta got cancer they took her cells with out asking her. But with the doctors taking her cells there where many medical advantages. I think that in healthcare there are some things that you have to be morally responsible for if you work in healthcare even though it may help other people the person may not want to do that or families. This novel has helped me understand more about what happens in the medical field.…

    • 762 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    HeLa was vital to cloning research, counting the number of chromosomes in a human cell, and the polio vaccine. HeLa refers to a cell line that given a endless supply of nutrients can divide forever. In this way, they are considered to be “immortal.” These cells are so prominently used in scientific research that if lined up, HeLa cells would circle the Earth more than three times. But where did these cells come from? They came from a tumor on the cervix of a black woman in the 1950s, Henrietta Lacks.…

    • 901 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Superior Essays

    The historical nonfiction book The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot tells of a African-American woman named Henrietta Lacks who died from cervical cancer. Throughout her sickness her visits to the doctor can best be described as skeptical. Living in the 1940’s racism may have played a role in her questionable treatment. The biggest issue that arose from her treatment was that cells were removed from her tumor without her informed consent. These cells would go on to be immortal and revolutionize…

    • 1232 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Superior Essays

    The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks tells the story of how the cells of Henrietta changed the future of science, but it also tells the story of her family and the injustice of the past. In 1951 Henrietta Lacks went to John Hopkins Hospital to have treatment to treat her cervical cancer. During the treatment, the doctors doing the treatment took a sample of her cells without her permission, and they were given to Doctor George Gey for culturing at his lab. Henrietta died October 4th, 1951…

    • 1109 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Improved Essays

    She could feel that blackness spreading inside of her. While operating Henrietta, the doctor took samples of her tumor and sent to Gey’s lab for culturing. Since, all human cell usually died in the lab, Gey’s assistant, Mary wasn't excited about Henrietta's cells. Nothing much was happening to those cells of Henrietta. Until about two days later, when they start to grow uncontrollably.…

    • 899 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    The book “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” dives into the story of an African-American woman who was diagnosed with cervical cancer and died at a young age shortly after, leaving behind 5 children, a husband, and many cousins. When Henrietta was at John Hopkins being treated for her cancer, the doctors took a sliver of her tumor and cultured it to see if they could make the cell “immortal”. This all happened back in the 50’s when colored people weren’t seen as equal citizens to white people. Because of this, doctors withheld a lot of information, and they took the sliver from her without her consent and supposedly never told her about it. (Although there was one colleague who claimed that Gey did in fact tell Henrietta about the cells,…

    • 992 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Superior Essays

    Henrietta 's cells have had a major impact on public health by allowing scientists to grow cancer cells which they can study in order to find ways to fight it. Although the discovery of her cells has done wonders for the medical field,…

    • 1411 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Superior Essays