Study Guide

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Chapter 34

By Rebecca Skloot

Chapter 34

The Medical Records (2001)

  • Deborah decides to go through the medical records with Skloot, but she still hasn't calmed down from the upsetting day at Crownsville.
  • Deborah doesn't trust anyone with Henrietta's medical record. She won't let Skloot photocopy it, so she has to straighten out the mess of pages right there.
  • Deborah's mood continues to fluctuate, and she breaks down about Elsie's picture again.
  • Skloot makes the disastrous suggestion that Deborah ought to get another copy of Henrietta's medical record because the one she had is so disorganized and scattered.
  • But this makes Deborah suspicious. When they're going over Elsie's autopsy report, Deborah has to ask Skloot to explain some terms to her.
  • She finds a term that she doesn't want Skloot to put in the book (and she doesn't), but Skloot gives her a smile at the same time.
  • She's smiling because she thinks Deborah's protectiveness of her mother is sweet.
  • But Deborah interprets it as insincerity and accuses her of lying.
  • She's so agitated that she assaults Skloot, body slamming her into the wall. Deborah accuses her of working for someone with an ulterior motive.
  • Skloot loses her temper with Deborah and tells her to step off. But in not-so-nice language.
  • It's at this moment that Deborah tells her about Cofield, the con artist who tried to scam and then sue the Lacks family.
  • She makes Skloot promise not to copy or type out the whole medical record. She continues to check on Skloot for the rest of the night to make sure she's not doing it.
  • Skloot realizes that Deborah's breaking out in hives and welts. In the morning, Deborah's on a manic high again.
  • Skloot is a zombie because she's been working all night.
  • They get ready to continue their journey, but Skloot's understandably spooked by Deborah's erratic behavior.

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