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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks - Rhetorical Analysis

            The excerpt taken from The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot, is located at the end of the prologue. Skloot discusses how she connected with Deborah and how she was intrigued to write the story of Henrietta and her undying cells. Skloot writes the novel with a purpose to inform the reader of the hardships of the Lacks family as they where coping with the death of a loved one, as well as the eventual surprise the family gained when informed that Henrietta's cells were alive and thriving. Rebecca Skloot executes her purpose in this passage by using rhetorical devices such as juxtaposition, colloquial diction, and pathos. .
             Juxtaposition is when two things are placed close together with contrasting effect. This device helps to display the differences between two items that aren't similar. Rebecca Skloot best displays this when she compares the privileged life she lived with Deborah Lacks' deprived existence. In the excerpt, Skloot says, "Deborah and I came from very different cultures: I grew up white and agnostic in the Pacific Northwest.Deborah was a deeply religious black Christian from the South." Skloot juxtaposes their contrasting lives to show that they come from two different backgrounds, yet have this common interest in Henrietta's contributions to science and how she changed. This is important to the story because it contributes to the relationship Skloot built with Deborah; their differences structured their close relationship because it had a key factor in Skloot's learning process while writing the book. Skloot even says that she grew through the process of writing the book because of all of the things juxtaposed between her and the Lackses in general. "The Lackses challenged everything I thought I knew about faith, science, journalism, and race. Ultimately, this book is the result." Skloot took the time to get to know the Lacks' early life because her life was so different in comparison which strengthened her need for a closer relationship in regards to gaining credibility.

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