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Distancing emotions from something more personal

SandraGandarez's picture

So I've been thinking about a the 9/11 Report and Henrietta Lacks and comparing their effect on me emotionally and cognitively. When reading the 9/11 Report I felt so distant and like it was something that happened long before my time and that it had no impact on me. The reality is that my town had a view of the Twin Towers and we were a quick 10 minute train trip away from the city. My father was also on a flight to Portugal and my godmother works in Manhattan so its not as if the tragedy of 9/11 didn't influence my life; it did. I think that is the specific reason that when reading the report I felt like it had no effect on me. This contrasted heavily with the story of Henrietta Lacks where I felt connected and more emotionally invested in her story. I also had to deal with issues as someone that interacts with science on a daily basis on an ethical level. It links back to the question that popped up in class on several occasions during our discussion; "Does the end justify the means?". These cells have helped so many people and advanced so many fields of medicine that I do not feel it was possible to not use them. I do understand and sympathize with the family and their issues, and they should be compensated in some way. Even if it's something as simple as free health care for all the family, it is the least that can be done. Anyway, I just felt a sense of guilt that I felt more emotionally vested in a story that was in no way connected to me than something that impacted my life and our world as a whole in such a drastic manner.


rachelr's picture

The difference that a 1st person narrative can make

 I agree with SandraGandarez- even though The 9/11 Report wasn't "just the facts" (mostly due to the images), because it wasn't a first-person narrative I didn't feel like I could connect to the plot in the same way that I could reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. I feel like another reason is also that in Immortal Life, everything that Skloot presented to me was new, other than basic biological interactions and structures. I didn't know about the origins of Hela cells or the life of the woman behind them, so the learning aspect was another engaging aspect of the book. While I didn't know the underlying details of all of the 9/11 plots, I fell that I had a pretty good grasp on what happen surrounding the attacks, so perhaps I didn't take as much time to go through every detail because I said to myself "oh, I know some of this already." And of course there is the fact that I'm not a huge fan of graphic novels, although because of Anne's classes I have definitely become more receptive to them. 

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