Monday, 20 May 2013

Narrative Structure: The House of the Scorpion

            In all well-written literature there is a flowing narrative structure and The House of the Scorpion is nothing less than that. Its’ timid narrative structure containing changing events helped shape the novel to form an excellent story with an intriguing plotline. Nancy Farmer was brilliant in the way she crafted her novel, and we shall take a look of how that was done below.

            The initial set-up is packed with secrecy as the readers begin to learn about a new and unique world through Matt’s eyes. At first, nothing is known outside of his secluded home, but things go wild when he discovers for himself that he is a clone. When meeting 3 other children – including Maria, Steven and Emilia – his life takes a sharp turn into another house where nothing is right. Matt is exposed to another beginning with endless possibilities of exploration. But will his unique quality set him apart from the others? This turn point in Matt’s life may be another beginning, but it also is the start of when Matt begins to experience difficulties and complications. “Property of Alacran Estate…” (Farmer 23).

Rising Action:
            Imprisonment in the Big House was the first spark of action that was an immense integration in Matt’s life. For several months, he suffered being trapped in a narrow room with sawdust, food waste and insects as entertainment. But later being finally united with Celia once again changed Matt’s life drastically for another time. Another character was introduced, El Patron, as the antagonist. From this point on, Matt had to face the problem of creating his own identity and being that El Patron was so similar, he had to try to come from underneath El Patrons shadow.

            After he discovered for sure that he was a clone, Matt faced all kinds of identity issues and it was his choice to confront and compete with others identity or lie and let-go by following the crowd and listening to El Patron. The whole rising action continued, emphasizing that while Matt grows up, he must make tough choices about who he wants to become. The main complication that existed was that although Matt was very much like any ordinary boy, he was a clone. Did this make him different when he grew up? What would Matt come out to be?

            Many may argue that there are several climaxes that occur, but I say that the little ones are just the suspense that Nancy Farmer included to add more complicity in the novel. It also includes Matt realizing his true fate and closely being killed. His world comes tumbling when Matt identifies that clones are only created for utilization of their organs. This leads him to leaving his so called ‘safe’ home where he thought he could win others hearts by showing his full potential. Matt leaves behind his loved ones, Celia and Tam Lin, but promises that he will return to help change this horrid country into a striving one. Is Matt destined to survive the rocky road ahead filled with surprises that he will only come to know about when he sets on his adventure? Further suspense is persistent when Matt continues to make choices that determine his future. He makes new friends and enemies, but where he is headed is still unknown. His several escapes with the help of his peers leads to Matt being reunited with Maria, his love, and Esperanza who can help to change Opium for good.

            Regardless of the several smaller climaxes that were introduced throughout the book The House of the Scorpion, one climax that stood out to me being a main one was when Matt understood what Esperanza thought of him. “First of all, Matt, you aren’t a clone.” (Farmer 366). Matt’s reaction was like any other person who since a child had been referred as a “bad animal” (Famer 27). It was quite obvious that since the beginning of Matt’s realization, he wanted to make a change in Opium and the only way possible was to become the leader. After Esperanza told him the news, he knew that there was hope, “It means you really are El Patron. You have his body and his identity. You own everything he owned and rule everything he ruled. It means you’re the new Master of Opium.” (Farmer 367). Once again, Matt had the power and opportunity to make a choice, but this one was far more significant that any other that he made in his past.

Falling Action:
            With all the problems and decisions Matt was forced to make, he finally made his way back to Opium where Matt had the choice to help the others. Instead of an upbeat and happy settling of action, it seemed as though there was more sorrow and sadness. “I went from one person to the next, trying to wake them up, but they were all dead…” (Farmer 375). This was the moment when Matt’s enthusiasm calmed down and his emotions were brought up to the surface. ““Dead?” cried Matt…. “Not Tam Lin.”” (Farmer 375). This whole falling action is what consisted of facing the truth of what had occurred while Matt was gone. Regardless of losing his fatherly figure, Matt continued to pursue his goal. It was although sorrowful, he realized that he must do what is best, bringing back the theme ‘You cannot alter the past, but you can change the future.’

            Matt’s youth came to an end when he revisited Opium and became the type of leader that El Patron never was, a successful one. This ending is so powerful as it shows that although Matt faced so many stumps in his childhood, he continued on the path and after all that hard work, he no longer needs to face the complications of society. Matt is now El Patron and he can prove that nothing stands in his way to become a better man and create a better world.

Here is a narrative map to guide my thoughts:


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