The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Pdf fan Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Chapter 30 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The next day, Deborah takes the apprehensive Rebecca to meet Zakariyya. They travel to his apartment along with Deborah’s two grandsons. Deborah assures Rebecca that she can “handle” Zakariyya’s rage. Old before his time at fifty, Zakariyya comes to meet them and immediately begins scolding Deborah. After ignoring the group, he asks to read the article that Rebecca has written about Henrietta. He tells Rebecca that he believes his birth during Henrietta’s illness to be a miracle, and then expresses rage at the doctors who “stole” his mother’s cells.
As paranoid and suspicious as Deborah may be, she is nothing compared to the still-angry and unstable Zakariyya. When Rebecca meets him in person, readers at last witness for themselves how quickly he swings between calmness and anger, evidence of deep psychological issues that are still unresolved. We again see how the general feeling among the Lackses is that something has been forcefully taken from them, and from Henrietta.
Themes
Racism, Classism, and Sexism Theme Icon
Family and Faith Theme Icon
Progress vs. Privacy Theme Icon
Technology and Globalization Theme Icon
Immortality and Its Costs  Theme Icon
Rebecca describes Zakariyya’s tiny apartment, in which he’s hung pictures of Henrietta and Elsie. He expresses a belief that Henrietta’s cancer damaged him mentally, while Deborah holds that it was Ethel’s fault. Zakariyya wonders whether he’d be a better person if Henrietta hadn’t been “sacrificed.” At the end of the session, Deborah shows Zakariyya the picture of Henrietta’s chromosomes from Christoph Lengauer. Zakariyya is amazed by the picture, so Deborah gives it to him to keep, a gesture that makes Zakariyya cry. The two embrace. Rebecca explains that Lengauer wants to meet the Lackses, and Zakariyya agrees.
Rebecca begins to see that her presence can actually have a positive effect on the Lackses, as her present from Christoph Lengauer actually makes the hardened Zakariyya cry. At the same time, it is tragic to see how much hardship and trauma Deborah and Zakariyya attribute to Henrietta’s death, and to imagine what their lives would have been like otherwise.
Themes
Racism, Classism, and Sexism Theme Icon
Family and Faith Theme Icon
Progress vs. Privacy Theme Icon
Technology and Globalization Theme Icon
Immortality and Its Costs  Theme Icon