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Rebecca Skloot - Study Guide (Chapters 1-14)

Page history last edited by Daniela Schonberger 8 years, 11 months ago

Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Name: __________________

Study Guide Questions





1.) Who is Rebecca Skloot and what seems to be her intention for writing this book?


2.) Who is the publishing group and what year was this book published?


3.) What genre does this book seem to fit into?


4.) Examine the Contents section and describe how Skloot has chosen to organize this book. What inferences can you make about this book from the different chapter titles?





5.) What made Skloot interested in writing about Henrietta Lacks?


6.) Who is Deborah and what kind of impression do you get after reading Deborah’s Voice?



Chapter 1:


7.) Describe Henrietta’s knowledge and attitude regarding hospital treatments.


8.) What does the term “era of Jim Crow” mean?



Chapter 2:


9.) What important family-related background information does Skloot provide about Henrietta?


10.) How did the historical event of the bombing at Pearl Harbor affect the job market and Henrietta’s family?



Chapter 3:


11.) What new but limited knowledge did doctors and scientists have about cervical cancer in the 1940s and 50s? How does this seem to relate to Henrietta Lacks?


12.) Who is Gey and why is he important in this Henrietta Lacks story?



Chapter 4:


13.) What evidence of Gey’s dedication to cell research is given in this chapter?


14.) Compared to other cancer cells Gey and Mary had tested in the past, how were Henrietta’s cancer cells different?



Chapter 5:


15.) What additional information does Skloot give about Henrietta’s life and her family?


16.) At Hopkins, what issue occurred with Henrietta’s medical record and what she was actually informed?



Chapter 6:


17.) How does the narrative technique change in this chapter and what purpose does it serve?


18.) What is the “Tuskegee study” and how does this enter conversation with the bioethical dilemma regarding Henrietta?



Chapter 7:


19.) What claims did Alexis Carrel make? Would these have been as widely accepted today by other scientists, the media, and the public?


20.) Why was the development of an “immortal” cell line like HeLa potentially so important to medical research?



Chapter 8:


21.) What is your impression of the medical care Henrietta received? Do you think it was less than what a white patient might have received?



Chapter 9:


22.) Describe Turner Station and the people who live there.





Chapter 10:


23.) What impression do you get from Skloot’s description of Clover? From her characterization of Cootie?



Chapter 11:


24.) What is your reaction to the medical decisions regarding the discontinuation of cancer treatment for Henrietta Lacks?



Chapter 12:


25.) What was Henrietta’s official cause of death?


26.) Describe the storm and the family’s interpretation of its taking place.



Chapter 13:


27.) Skloot notes that Tuskegee Institute was the site of the first HeLa production factory. In a brief bullet-point list, describe the process of mass-production of the HeLa cells.


28.) How did Gey feel about the distribution of the HeLa cells?



Chapter 14:


29.) Explain the conflict surrounding Henrietta’s name.


30.) Why did Gey decline to identify Henrietta Lacks for journalists?




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