The House of the Scorpion
by Nancy Farmer
The House of the Scorpion Part 2, Middle Age: 7 to 11 Summary
- Matt gets woken up by Rosa screaming at him. This lady is always yelling.
- She drags him to a bathtub and washes him off frantically, after which he's hauled out into a courtyard to meet the family.
- When he gets outside, Matt is basically shell-shocked.
- Celia is there along with the mysterious El Patrón and other members of the family.
- Celia's mad. She lets Rosa have it and tells El Patrón, and everyone else, that Rosa has been treating Matt like an animal.
- Rosa tries to defend herself, but even her doctor boyfriend turns on her.
- Furious, El Patrón has Rosa hauled off.
- He calls Matt over, who likes El Patrón instantly. We also learn here that Matt is El Patrón's clone.
- Perhaps thinking that some clone-bonding is in order, El Patrón tells Matt about his childhood in Aztlán, which was then called Mexico. He's pretty much rambling at this point.
- Finally El Patrón conks out – he's old and has talked too much – at which point Celia takes Matt to their new apartment home in the Big House.
- Matt is happy, but he won't talk, even when María visits him later and tries to persuade him to chat with her.
- Next we learn that El Patrón is going away to rest in his mountain vacation home. He's 140 years old so he tires easily, and can you blame him? That's almost as old as Dumbledore.
- Celia dresses Matt and they head off to tell El Patrón bon voyage.
- At the good-bye, Matt meets to the entire family, and El Patrón reveals to everyone that Matt is his clone.
- According to El Patrón, this means that Matt is super important, so anyone who harms him will be punished. El Patrón gives the Godfather a run for his money here: everyone is so scared of El Patrón, they have no choice but to agree.
- Then El Patrón gives Matt the gift of a bodyguard, whom he lets Matt pick.
- Matt (understandably) decides on a huge man with nice eyes named Tam Lin, who's Scottish. Good call.
- Tam Lin quickly picks Matt up and carts him off.
- Poor Matt's still having problems dealing with society. He won't talk and he's reluctant to leave Celia's apartment.
- Matt develops a growing dislike for Tom, who is a bully. He's like the Draco Malfoy to Matt's Harry Potter.
- But Matt slowly warms up to Tam Lin, who ends up being pretty cool.
- After living in the pen for months on end, Matt has developed asthma. As if he didn't have enough trouble.
- María keeps visiting and trying to talk to Matt but he still refuses to respond.
- Tam Lin calls Matt out on his rude behavior, telling him that he doesn't have to turn into another El Patrón.
- Matt thinks this over. Hmm.
- Eventually, Matt gets a tutor called Teacher who is overly chirpy. Teacher treats Matt like a baby, which makes him so mad he practically explodes. He yells at her. He speaks!
- Tam Lin rushes in to comfort the teacher, who is freaked out by Matt.
- Finally, Matt introduces himself to Tam Lin for the first time (took you long enough, Matt), and Tam Lin takes him out for a picnic.
The Eejit in the Dry Field
- Matt's thrilled to be going out with Tam Lin. He's even more pumped about riding a horse.
- But protective Tam Lin picks a slow horse, and Matt thinks this is lame. Picky picky.
- Apparently months of not talking left him with lots to say, because Matt chatters nonstop.
- While they're out, he and Tam Lin see Farm workers, who are harvesting opium. They notice that the workers keep going without stopping for anything.
- Matt sees a Farm worker lying on the ground and Tam Lin gets upset and says they have to leave him there. It turns out the man is dead.
- They finally stop their ride and Tam Lin tells the horse to drink. Apparently these horses are different than the one's we're used to.
- The horse is called a Safe Horse, and it's programmed to do exactly what a rider tells it to do. So it won't even drink unless it's told to do so.
- The two guys then go on a hike and come to a pretty oasis, but Tam Lin tells Matt it's a secret and he can't tell anyone about it.
- Then he explains that Matt was cloned from El Patrón, which is why people don't like him: he's different.
- Matt also learns about eejits: people who are programmed to obey orders, just like the Safe Horse.
- As it turns out, the Farm worker who died did so because he was never told to stop working, so he worked himself to death. Scary stuff.
- Horrified, Matt asks Tam Lin to stop telling him things – it's freaking him out!
- So Tam Lin takes Matt exploring instead, and teaches him about plants, animals, and survival skills. He'd make a great Boy Scout troop leader, don't you think?
- Matt asks Tam Lin to be his teacher, and he gladly accepts.
The Secret Passage
- Matt's settling into a nice routine with Celia and Tam Lin, but he's constantly bothered by the fact that he's a copy of another person. It's okay, Matt, we would be, too.
- He's also haunted by the dead eejit he saw.
- María still visits, but now brings her annoying dog, Furball with her, which only serves as a reminder to Matt that people think of him as an animal. Ugh.
- When he hears Tom and Steven's mother, Felicia, playing the piano, Matt becomes interested in the instrument, and music in general. Felicia, we learn, is an alcoholic and seems very depressed.
- One day, Matt has to hide in a closet to listen to Felicia play. The closet is actually a secret passage, and Matt starts to explore it. It goes all over the Big House and has peepholes into various rooms.
- Matt wanders towards the room of Mr. Alacrán's father, who has cancer and is refusing treatment.
- On another exploration of the Big House, Matt observes the doctor, Willum, hanging around Felicia. The two seem pretty cozy.
- After a while, Matt starts to play the piano himself in secret, but Tam Lin discovers him and decides to get him a proper piano teacher.
- They find a music teacher who has gone deaf and really needs a job. His name is Mr. Ortega and he agrees to teach Matt, even if Matt is a clone.
- Figuring that if he excels at school people will forget he's a clone, Matt throws himself into his studies.
The Cat with Nine Lives
- We jump forward three years in time. It's El Patrón's 143rd birthday. He's even got Bilbo Baggins from The Fellowship of the Rings beat.
- Matt, who really cares about El Patrón, is sad to see him so aged.
- Celia seems nervous about El Patrón's party and tells Matt to find her if anything seems weird.
- María is there for the party, but she's upset because she can't find Furball, so Tam Lin and Matt reluctantly help her look for the dog.
- Tom is there, too, and joins the search party, but Matt notices that Tom is only half-heartedly looking. He suspects that Tom did something to Furball. Uh oh.
- Eventually, after hearing the dog's cries, Matt finds Furball in the toilet, almost drowned. He's horrified – Tom nearly killed the dog.
- Matt kind of likes El Patrón's birthday, because it means that his friends are celebrating it as his birthday, too. It's the one day of the year that the Alacráns have to pay attention and be polite to him.
- A creepy red-headed guy from California is also at the party. His name is Mr. MacGregor.
- El Patrón arrives and appears to be in much better health. He thanks his new doctors for their awesome treatment with million dollar checks. Ka-ching!
- He then proceeds to tell the story he tells all the time, about how his family was very poor and how all of his eight siblings died before reaching adulthood.
The Giving and Taking of Gifts
- Matt wanders around and checks out the seating arrangement at El Patrón's party. As a joke, he takes Tom's place card and sticks it at the baby table.
- María catches him, so Matt tells her that he thinks Tom tried to drown Furball. She doesn't believe him, though. Instead, she think's Matt's being quite the jerk.
- El Patrón and Mr. Alacrán join the conversation, and El Patrón approves of Matt's joke.
- When María protests, El Patrón tells her to stuff it.
- Still angry, she refuses to talk to Matt anymore. Tam Lin, too, isn't thrilled with how Matt is acting.
- Then Matt overhears a conversation among the adults. El Patrón is talking about things like "fetal brain implants" and makes fun of his grandson, El Viejo, for not hopping onboard the modern medical technology bandwagon. It turns out El Viejo is the man with cancer, whom Matt stumbled upon while roaming the secret passageway in Chapter 9. Is this all coming together now?
- Mr. Alacrán (who we now know is El Patrón's great-grandson) sticks up for his father, El Viejo, and says that "implants" are "immoral."
- Despite their disagreement, El Patrón decides not to lay the smack down on Mr. Alacrán. It is his birthday, after all, so he's not really in the right mood.
- Felicia tries to take Tom some food at the baby table, but Mr. Alacrán yells at her to shut up and sit down. People are seriously mean around here.
- El Patrón then opens his presents. He has tons of them, of course.
- Our other birthday boy, Matt, is then allowed to open his three presents, from Celia, Tam Lin, and El Patrón.
- María, still peeved, tries to take back her present, but her dad tells her to hand it over and stop complaining.
- Channeling El Patrón, Matt orders María to bring him his gift. Eek.
- Then he steps over the line and demands a birthday kiss. Everyone is horrified because he's a clone, but El Patrón is delighted.
- Even though he begins to regret his actions, Matt refuses to back down. María finally kisses him, which makes Matt is horrified at his own behavior.
- Later, back in his room, Matt opens María's gift, which is a box of taffy that she made herself. Pretty sweet.
- We learn that María is a hoarder, and that her mother abandoned her when she was only five. Celia says this is why María won't let things go and why she won't let Furball leave her sight.
- Feeling pretty guilty, Matt goes to sleep.
The Thing on the Bed
- Felicia shows up the next morning out of nowhere, surprising Matt, who was studying.
- She seems ill, but she tries to be nice to Matt. She tells him that María wants to see him and that she's at the hospital.
- When Matt goes to meet her, she's there, but she thought it was Matt's idea to meet there.
- Uh-oh. It's a set-up.
- Tom walks in and takes them to see something awful. At first it sounds like a cat being tortured, but when Tom opens the door, the three of them see a clone who is pale and tied down and screeching.
- We learn that the clone is Mr. MacGregor's.
- Though horrified, Matt can't help but notice that the clone looks a lot like Tom, who gets mad when Matt points this out.
- Freaking out, María refuses to look at the clone or listen to anything about it.
- Matt gets angry with her because she was gung-ho about rescuing the creature when she thought it was a cat, and now she wants nothing to do with it.
The Lotus Pond
- Matt's terrified. He wants to talk with someone about what he saw, so he goes to Celia and tells her what happened.
- She's furious with Tom for showing them that, and she tells Matt that Tom is Mr. MacGregor's son. Scandal!
- It turns out Felicia ran off with Mr. MacGregor, but when the relationship ended, El Patrón had her brought back and now she's basically a prisoner at the house.
- Then Celia explains that all clones have their brains destroyed at birth. It's a law. But El Patrón is so powerful that he disregarded the law and left Matt's brain intact.
- Okay, big revelation: Matt is the only clone in existence with a brain that hasn't been destroyed.
- With a promise that he'll be safe as long as he lives, Celia assures Matt that no one will inject him with any brain-destroying drugs.
- It's time for a nap. As he drifts off to sleep, Matt wonders why MacGregor would want a brain-damaged clone.
- Lo and behold, MacGregor shows up a few days later and has a new liver and new kidneys. Aha.
- María is going to boarding school soon, but she refuses to talk to Matt.
- In an effort to force her to speak to him, Matt decides to kidnap Furball and send María a ransom note.
- Meanwhile, Matt finds Tom hanging around, torturing a frog. The two bicker and Tom goes back inside.
- Then, Matt sneaks over to where the Mendozas are staying and prepares to snatch Furball. He tries one last time to talk to María but she runs off.
- So Matt gives Furball some meat to get the dog to come with him. He has some drugs to make Furball fall asleep but he doesn't end up using them.
- After leaving the ransom note, Matt takes Furball and leaves him near the pond for safekeeping. His plan is to go back later to meet María there after she reads the ransom note.
- When he does head back, Matt is by met Tam Lin and another bodyguard named Daft Donald. A man named Senator Mendoza is with them; furious, he tells Matt that Furball is dead. (P.S. This guy is actually a US Senator.)
- Yelling, Matt declares that he loves María and wouldn't hurt her, which makes the Senator even angrier.
- Tam Lin is seriously disappointed in Matt, and doesn't believe Matt when he says that he didn't kill Furball.
- We find out that Tam Lin is also leaving with El Patrón.
- Matt is confined to his room. He's pretty miserable because he has a lot of regrets about what he's done, and he's also frustrated that no one believes that he didn't kill Furball. Plus, he's pretty sure Tom killed the dog, but he can't prove it.
- Plus, without Tam Lin, who has left with El Patrón, Matt's very lonely. Now that Tam Lin is gone, he realizes what a friend he was.
- He decides to make Tam Lin proud by making better decisions.
- There is some good news, though. El Patrón found out about Tom's stunt at the hospital and banishes him to boarding school for a year. So at least that bully won't be around.
- From Celia, Matt learns that El Patrón won't ever let things go. He even keeps a stash of all his presents in an underground tomb, where he wants to be buried like a pharaoh.
- This is why El Patrón keeps Tom around, too, even though he hates him. Tom "belongs" to him.
- Now it's time to learn about Celia's background.
- She grew up in Aztlán in the same village as El Patrón (though she's not nearly as old, of course).
- She was poor and went to work in a factory, where she dreamed of going to the United States someday.
- Eventually, Celia found someone to take her over the border and made a run for it with a group of other people fleeing Aztlán.
- Unfortunately, the Farm Patrol caught her and the others. El Patrón came to see the prisoners and recognized Celia's accent.
- When he learned she was from his hometown, he decided to spare her life and hired her as a cook. So now Celia belongs to El Patrón, and she can never escape him.
- As a punishment for their crime, the people who crossed the border with Celia were turned into eejits and now work the fields.
People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...