The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

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Chapter 19 Summary


When Deborah Lacks got pregnant at age sixteen, her brother’s wife Bobbette insisted she graduate from high school anyway. Bobbette cared for the baby herself while Deborah attended a school for teenage mothers. Then, after Deborah graduated, Bobbette made her get a job and learn to support herself.

During this period, Deborah’s two older brothers were doing well for themselves. Lawrence, the eldest Lacks boy and Bobbette’s husband, owned his own shop. Sonny had earned his high school diploma, and now he was in the air force. 

Joe, the youngest Lacks sibling and the one who had experienced the most severe physical abuse in childhood, had by far the most problems. He dropped out of school at a young age, and he had repeated run-ins with the law during his teenage years. At eighteen, he joined the military, but he constantly picked fights with the other soldiers and with the officers. Because of this, he spent most of his service term in solitary confinement. Ultimately he was discharged and sent home.

Back in Turner Station, Joe began fighting with a young man named Ivy. One day Ivy beat Joe badly. A couple of days later, Joe stabbed and killed Ivy with one of Deborah’s kitchen knives. For a...

(The entire section is 431 words.)