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What impact did the decision to maintain speech authenticity have on the story? 

Created: 07/15/11

Replies: 6

Posted Jul. 15, 2011 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
admin

Join Date: 10/11/10

Posts: 369

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What impact did the decision to maintain speech authenticity have on the story? 

One of Henrietta's relatives said to Skloot, "If you pretty up how people spoke and change the things they said, that's dishonest" (page xiii). Throughout, Skloot is true to the dialect in which people spoke to her: the Lackses speak in a heavy Southern accent, and Lengauer and Hsu speak as non-native English speakers. What impact did the decision to maintain speech authenticity have on the story?


Posted Jul. 16, 2011 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
marthad

Join Date: 05/10/11

Posts: 25

RE: What impact did the decision to maintain speech authenticity have on the story? 

I agree with her there is no way to change the way people speak and not change who they are. We are what we speak.


Posted Jul. 16, 2011 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
dianel

Join Date: 07/16/11

Posts: 15

RE: What impact did the decision to maintain speech authenticity have on the story? 

I think it helped tremendously! I felt that I was right there with the author. She chose to depict Henrietta and her family as they are, pure and unashamed.


Posted Jul. 16, 2011 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
jop

Join Date: 07/16/11

Posts: 14

RE: What impact did the decision to maintain speech authenticity have on the story? 

I agree with everyone above. Skloot remained true to the voices of the people she recorded. They deserved that and so does the reader.


Posted Jul. 20, 2011 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
paulak

Join Date: 04/21/11

Posts: 16

RE: What impact did the decision to maintain speech authenticity have on the story? 

I thought it was absolutely correct. This approach also helped the reader better understand the perspective of the Lacks family members. They had few benefits in life and seemed to struggle to just meet their daily needs. No fancy education, really no basic education. Just raw human emotion reacting to people speaking the mumbo-jumbo of science. I thought the part of the book that best underscored this difference was when Susan Hsu was instructed to obtain Lacks' blood samples to help solve the contamination issue. Her command of the English language was further hampered by the assumption that the Lacks could actually understand the technical details of her task. On page 227, Skloot quotes Hsu's explanation to the Lacks: "We come to draw blood to get HLA antigen, we do genetic marker profile because we can deduce a lot of Henrietta Lacks genotype from the children and the husband." Wow! Even with my BA and 30 years in the professional work force, I'm not sure I would understand that!


Posted Jul. 25, 2011 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
karlas

Join Date: 10/21/10

Posts: 5

RE: What impact did the decision to maintain speech authenticity have on the story? 

Yes, I feel that it was important to the book that authentic speech be used as each person was telling their portion of the events and showed their feelings about what had happened. The lack of schooling shows why they misunderstood some of the things that occured.


Posted Aug. 12, 2011 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
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kageeh

Join Date: 06/14/11

Posts: 6

RE: What impact did the decision to maintain speech authenticity have on the story? 

I have to agree that reproducing the distinct dialect of the people written about is very important to the impact of the story. I recently read a book for book club that was a non-fiction account of a poor black man in the deep South erroneously imprisoned for 18 years for a rape he didn't commit. All of us questioned how every utterance of this man who never finished high school and had no exposure to "well-spoken" people bled with the inflections and vocabulary of an Ivy League education. This very regretful decision by the author significantly lessened the integrity of the man's otherwise very important story.


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