The House of the Scorpion
by Nancy Farmer
The House of the Scorpion Part 1 Youth: 0 to 6 Summary
In the Beginning
- We like the shout-out to the first line of Genesis in the chapter title.
- As the book opens, we meet Eduardo who is working in your typical science lab, complete with bubbling liquids and tubes and glass dishes.
- Eduardo is trying to grow some cells, but he's worried that most of his batch are dying.
- While he's working, Lisa tells him the cells are over a hundred years old.
- Finally one cell survives and starts to grow into a person. Hmm.
- The baby that is being created in the lab is apparently being grown inside a cow. Weird enough for you?
- Eduardo wonders and worries about the baby until the little boy is finally born. At that point, he begins injecting the baby with something that will make him unintelligent.
- But Lisa stops him and tells him that the Matteo Alacráns are always left alone. The who?
The Little House in the Poppy Fields
- Nancy Farmer is pretty clever with her chapter titles. This one is a shout-out to the popular Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
- As this chapter opens, a little boy named Matt is upset that his caretaker, Celia, is leaving for work. After all, Matt has to stay alone in the house all day while Celia is gone.
- (Side note: we assume that Matt is a Matteo Alacrán, from the last chapter.)
- Outside, there are fields of white poppies. Matt sometimes sees people outside like he does on TV, and he's curious about them.
- But Celia won't let Matt go outside because it's dangerous. Okay, now we're intrigued.
- Celia is a cook at a fancy house nearby and brings Matt delicious food every day.
- While home by himself, Matt tries to talk to his stuffed animals and pictures, but he just gets bored and lonely.
- Then, two kids show up outside and see Matt through the window. He's scared and excited, but the kids leave pretty quickly.
- Matt doesn't tell Celia what happened. Scandalous!
- We find out that Celia isn't Matt's real mother, but Matt thinks of her as his Mama anyway.
- When a curious Matt asks, Celia tells him about the people at the "Big House." He's interested in the kids there, and from Celia's information, Matt figures out that the two kids he saw are named Steven and Emilia.
- Apparently Steven's brothers are punks, especially Tom. Oh, and Emilia's younger sister is named María.
- Celia puts Matt to bed, but before he goes to sleep he practices things to say to Steven and Emilia, hoping they'll play with him tomorrow.
Property of the Alacrán Estate
- After Celia leaves for work, Matt waits nearly all day for the kids to show up again.
- Finally Steven, Emilia, and María return to stare at Matt. He's obviously stuck inside, but he gets some pictures to hold up to the window. Interesting tactic.
- Steven and Emilia think the pictures are pretty funny and realize he can understand them.
- Unfortunately, María is tired and cranky and starts to cry, which totally ruins the moment.
- Steven and Emilia get annoyed and walk off, leaving María outside the house.
- Matt gets upset by this, so he breaks the window with a pot to get to María.
- The kids are stunned. (So are we.)
- Matt asks if they want to play, and then he tries to get out the window, but he cuts himself pretty badly on his foot. He passes out and wakes up later, when Steven and Emilia are carrying him to the Big House.
- When they arrive at the house, some maids begin to take care of Matt's foot. A woman named Rosa asks him questions about who he is, and Emilia notices that Matt has something written on the bottom of his foot. It says "Property of the Alacrán Estate." Property of? Yikes.
- Everyone is totally confused.
- Steven's dad bursts in and starts yelling about how Matt is an animal and doesn't belong there. Animal? Who are you calling an animal, mister?
- Everyone leaves the room and poor Matt is all by his lonesome.
- Matt is now outside, lying on the grass, hoping Celia will come to get him soon. He's going to be in big trouble.
- Emilia and Steven start talking about Matt, and Steven tells Emilia that Matt is a clone. A clone!
- They are both horrified. As it turns out, they think clones are animals. (We don't really know what to think.)
- Finally, a doctor shows up. He and Rosa take Matt inside again to operate on his foot.
- The doctor and Rosa are rough with Matt, and they leave him alone in a dark room with nothing but a bed and a bucket. Matt is terrified and starts to cry for Celia.
- Later, María comes by and brings Matt dinner. Finally, some kindness.
- Matt starts to tell María a scary story that Celia told him about the chupacabra, or a "goat sucker" monster, but this scares María, so Matt feels pretty bad. Let's face it: Matt isn't good at winning over the ladies.
- It's gotten late, so María decides to stay in the room with Matt for the night. She's scared to go outside because of monsters.
- The next morning Rosa storms in and drags María out, shouting at her for hanging out with a clone.
- Matt is still stuck in the room, and he's at the mercy of Rosa, who seems to be totally evil. It's a pretty sticky situation.
- The doctor also comes to tend to Matt's wounds, and he and Rosa start to talk about El Patrón. They both seem scared of him.
- All Matt knows is that El Patrón is the boss of the Big House.
- Rosa and the doctor, named Willum, are super flirty flirty but also argue a lot in front of Matt, which totally confuses him.
- The doctor then goes away for an extended period and Rosa flips out. She takes it out on Matt and treats him worse than ever.
- Evil lady that she is, Rosa then gets some gardeners to build Matt a pen filled with sawdust; and, of course, she sticks him right in there. Harsh.
- When the doctor comes back from wherever he went, he freaks out and yells at Rosa for putting Matt in a pen. The doctor is worried about keeping Matt alive and healthy.
- Matt is scared – obviously – and he's worried that Celia has forgotten about him.
- The punky kid, Tom, who we've heard of before, shows up and taunts Matt one day, so Matt throws some rotten fruit at him. Good move, Matt. Unfortunately, Tom comes back with a slingshot and shoots peas at Matt, which really hurt.
- Matt spends his time examining bugs and burying things in the sawdust. Is he a future Gil Grissom from CSI?
- Finally, Celia arrives with María. She's horrified about what has happened – she was told Matt was with El Patrón.
- Thankfully, she tells Matt she's working on a plan to rescue him.
- But Matt's actually happy when his visitors leave because he wants to go back to playing with his buried treasures in the sawdust. That doesn't sound like our idea of fun playtime, but hey, we're not Matt.
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