The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Questions and Answers
by Rebecca Skloot

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks book cover
Start Your Free Trial

Where does this quote appear in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and what's its significance? “She's the most important person in the world and her family living in poverty. If our mother is so important to science, why can't we get health insurance?”

Expert Answers info

Eagle Gamma eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseProfessional Writer, Professional Tutor

bookB.A. from McGill University


calendarEducator since 2019

write10 answers

starTop subject is Literature

This quote appears on page 168, approximately halfway through The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. The significance of this quote is that Henrietta Lacks, despite the importance of her biological cells to society at large, herself remained mired in poverty. This shows the contrasts between what a person can contribute, even if not through their own efforts, and the rewards that society offers to a person. In this particular case, Henrietta Lacks contributed (despite not even giving her consent) some of her cells to scientific researchers and did not receive direct remuneration.

In The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, journalist Rebecca Skloot describes a cell line from the book's namesake, the cell line called HeLa, which scientists have used extensively to understand diseases. The resulting research produced numerous important scientific discoveries.

In addition to the contrast of the contributor of stem cells residing in poverty despite her stem cells achieving...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 475 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Olen Bruce eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2016

write4,269 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial


mrstodd | Student

It depends on which copy of the book you're looking at, but that quote is on page 168 in many printings. 

In the future, there are three useful resources for finding specific quotes within a book.

1) Google Books: If you go to books.google.com, you can then search a specific book title. Once you've found the book you're looking for, you can use the search boxes on the page to look for specific quotations or passages. Depending on the book, there may be limitations on how much of a book you're able to preview for free. Unfortunately, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is not a book that you can "look inside" of on Google Books, but it's a useful tool for the future.

2) Amazon: Similar to Google Books, you can search a particular book title and, if it shows you a "Look inside!" option, you can view pages within the book and even search specific words/phrases. Again, there may be limitations on which pages you can see or how much you can preview. 

3) Project Gutenberg: If you visit gutenberg.org, you'll find thousands of free full-text eBooks at your fingertips. You can search within the books and even get the book in PDF format, Kindle format, etc. This is a great place to look for any books (including textbooks in some cases) for future reading.