Study Guide

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Chapter 36

By Rebecca Skloot

Chapter 36

Heavenly Bodies (2001)

  • Deborah goes home to get her hives looked at. Skloot stays on in Clover to talk with Gary about the spiritual incident of the previous evening.
  • Gary talks to her about the immortality he believes that Christ gives, and he gives her a bible verse to read out loud (John 11:25).
  • He believes that Henrietta's cells are her—that she's kind of like an angel or an agent of God sent back to earth to do good work.
  • Gary has Skloot read another passage from the bible (I Corinthians 15:40) about heavenly and earthly bodies.
  • Skloot makes the connection between the bible verses and Deborah's reaction to seeing Henrietta's cells projected on a screen in Lengauer's lab.
  • She understands better how Henrietta's family understands the idea of Henrietta's immortality. It's very different from what scientists think.
  • Gary explains to Skloot that the HeLa cells are Henrietta's spiritual or heavenly body. This is her form of resurrection, just as the bible promised.
  • Skloot gets it: the family understands the promise that Jesus gives to his followers in scripture ("You shall never die") a lot more easily than the complicated language of a genetics textbook.
  • Gary jokes that Skloot might even be converted to Christianity if she hangs around with them long enough.

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