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Themes

The classic hero tale always features heroes who have to make tough decisions, and The House of the Scorpion is no different. Just as Frodo decides to take the one ring to Mount Doom rather than try to, say, sell it on eBay, so our Matt must face his own struggles and return home to take control of Opium. Matt doesn't go to battle in any kind of traditional way. There's no sword in a stone or magic wand he pulls out to duke it out with El Patrón. Matt might be a hero on a grand scale (he does take over an entire country by the novel's end), but he's also a young boy with no special gifts. Instead, Matt makes choices of a more realistic variety. He fights El Patrón by growing up to be a good, strong person. He's come into his own and out from under El Patrón's shadow, all by calling his own shots in life.

Questions About Choices

  1. Matt has to make a lot of tough choices throughout the novel. What are some bad decisions that Matt makes, and how does he fix things when he makes a mistake?
  2. Why do you think Tam Lin made the decisions he did at the novel's end?
  3. Do we ever fully understand what drove El Patrón to do the awful things he did? Do you think he had good intentions, or was he just evil through and through?
  4. Do you think Matt made the right decision to take over Opium at the end? Do you think he'll make the right choices when he finally is in charge?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

One of the major lessons that Matt learns is this: just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should choose to do it.

Based on whether or not they choose help Matt, you can tell whether characters are good or bad.

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