portrait of Henrietta Lacks with lines building on her image to a grid of connected dots

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

by Rebecca Skloot
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After reading chapters 8–11 in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, explain Henrietta's final request. What does this tell you about her?

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Henrietta's final request was that her husband Day take care of her children.

What this tells us about Henrietta is that she is an incredibly caring mother who wants nothing but the best for her children. She knows that she doesn't have much longer to live, but her last thoughts...

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Henrietta's final request was that her husband Day take care of her children.

What this tells us about Henrietta is that she is an incredibly caring mother who wants nothing but the best for her children. She knows that she doesn't have much longer to live, but her last thoughts aren't about herself, but about the people in her life who mean so much to her. That indicates just what a selfless woman Henrietta really is.

Henrietta is particularly concerned about her disabled daughter, Elsie, who's been put in an institution in Virginia. Henrietta knows just how challenging life will be for someone in Elsie's position. It's therefore all the more imperative that she get the treatment she needs.

Sadly, this doesn't turn out to be the case, and Elsie dies only four years later in truly deplorable conditions at the hospital. Other problems beset Henrietta's family in the wake of her death, such as her widower Day coming down with cancer. Her daughter Deborah also experiences health problems.

Henrietta's hope that her daughters be well taken care of may have been a case of wishful thinking, but there's no doubt that her wishes were genuine and that they showed she had a very kind heart.

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