The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Chapter 31 Summary
by Rebecca Skloot

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Chapter 31 Summary


Soon after her first long visit with Rebecca, Deborah was advised by a stranger, a black man, who said she should not talk to a white reporter about Henrietta. He said that only a black person could be trusted to tell the story properly. He nearly convinced Deborah, but soon she decided that he was wrong:

Racism! Racism! …We all black and white and everything else—this isn’t a race thing. There’s two sides to the story, and that’s what we want to bring out…It’s not about punish the doctors or slander the hospital. I don’t want that.

Deborah remained skittish, but she kept granting Rebecca interviews. In exchange, Rebecca promised full disclosure on anything she found about Henrietta Lacks. She sent Deborah every scrap of information she found, along with clear labels explaining what it all meant and whether it was fact or fiction. She also promised to set up a scholarship fund for Henreitta's descendants if the book ever sold.

A friendship soon blossomed between Deborah and Rebecca. Rebecca invited Deborah along on research trips and helped her to set up a computer with Internet access at home. As Deborah began to hunt for information about Henrietta herself, she often called Rebecca in the middle of the night, panicked about articles she found. She could not sleep and so she began taking Ambien, a sleeping pill, which made her fuzzy-headed. Her erratic behavior scared her grandson, who insisted on moving into her house to watch over her.

Eventually Deborah began to learn more about Henrietta’s cells, and the panicked nighttime phone calls ceased. Deborah filled notebooks with information on cells, cancer, legal terms, and so on. She researched the problematic...

(The entire section is 444 words.)