Henrietta’s relatives all remember her pristine fingernails and toenails, which she kept painted a vibrant red. Indeed, her female cousins only understood how sick she was once they saw how chipped her nails were becoming, as she was too weak to continue painting them. Meanwhile, the nails mean something quite different for Mary Kubicek, George Gey’s assistant. When she attends Henrietta’s autopsy, the sight of Henrietta’s painted nails makes her realize for the first time that HeLa came from the suffering of a real human being.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
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The timeline below shows where the symbol Henrietta’s Fingernails and Toenails appears in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 5: Blackness Be Spreadin All Inside
...no one remembers Henrietta feeling ill. The author describes Henrietta’s beauty, especially noting her well-kept fingernails and toenails, which she always paints red. Sadie describes Henrietta’sfriendly nature. The only person who... (full context)
Chapter 12: The Storm
...saving pieces of her tumors. As she watches Gey work, Mary is struck by Henrietta’s toenails with their chipped, red nail polish. In the present, Mary recounts seeing the toenails and... (full context)
...and Fred, meanwhile, have spent the day digging a grave. When Sadie sees Henrietta’s chipped toenail polish , she begins to cry; “Henrietta would rather have died than let her polish get... (full context)
Chapter 28: After London
Chapter 34: The Medical Records