Study Guide

Emilia Mendoza in The House of the Scorpion

By Nancy Farmer

Emilia Mendoza

It's rather fitting that Emilia marries Steven; they have a ton in common. Both start out the novel with a fairly neutral attitude towards Matt, but once they find out he's a clone, they go with the crowd and treat him as something less than human. Even after they've grown up, they refuse to let him escape the confines of El Patrón's estate. Both Emilia and her husband have fathers who are totally under El Patrón's control, and both of them have younger siblings whom they actively dislike. When María attempts to help Matt escape the estate, Emilia reveals her disdain for her younger sister: "You're too soft," Emilia said. "You're always getting gooey about sick animals or homeless people. If you're not careful you'll turn out like Mother" (22.107). Harsh. But would that be so bad?

Emilia is very much a realist, and at times even a cynic. She finds María's optimism and idealism childish and stupid. She's made her decision: she's going to suck it up and accept her life as it's handed to her. It's this acceptance that sets her apart from her younger sister, who, in contrast, wants to change her world for the better.

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