Study Guide

The House of the Scorpion Lies and Deceit

By Nancy Farmer

Lies and Deceit

"I knew nothing about it until today," said the doctor.

"You're lying! Tell them, Willum! You thought it was funny. You said the beast - the boy - was in good condition!" (6.33-34)

Does anyone in this house ever tell the truth? Willum, the awful doctor, relies on lies just as much as everyone else does to get what he wants.

"You're too young to understand much, and I wouldn't say anything if you were a real boy." Tam Lin tossed bread crumbs into the pool. The little fish rose to the surface to feed. "But you're a clone," he went on. "You haven't got anyone to explain things to you." (7.45)

Tam Lin treats Matt like a human for the most part but he also acknowledges just how different Matt is. Apparently, when you're a clone, no one thinks it's important to keep you in the loop. Except for Tam Lin, of course.

That was Tom though. He could be courteous and helpful on the surface, but you never knew what was going on underneath. (10.37)

Tom keeps his sneaky motives secret. And honestly, sometimes we just don't want to know what awful deed he's plotting next.

"You're the one who invited me," said María. "Why couldn't you find somewhere nice? This place is creepy."

Matt's alarm system went on at once. "I didn't invite you." (12.41-42)

We kind of suspected Matt was being set up when Felicia went to see him. When did you get clued in?

"Tom is MacGregor's son, you know," said Celia. "I shouldn't tell you these things at your age, but nobody gets a decent childhood in the Alacrán household. They're all scorpions." (13.14)

Celia's instinct is to keep Matt in the dark. In fact, that seems like everyone's instinct. But she resists it and tells him the truth for once.

"I'm not lying!"

"Ah, well. Perhaps I'm expecting too much of you." (13.115-16)

Ouch. In Matt's case, not being believed hurts almost as much as being lied to.

"Felicia poisoned Furball," María said.

"What are you talking about?" Tam Lin was clearly startled. (16.99-100)

We were very relieved when the truth about Furball came out. Were you surprised that Felicia was the killer?

"But you let the doctors turn Celia into an eejit," said Matt.

"I did not! I marked her forehead so it appeared like she was operated on. I put her in the stables with Rosa." (24.26-27)

Tam Lin's defensive tone here is kind of funny. He's very insulted by what Matt accused him of doing. But of course Matt doesn't have the whole truth yet, so Tam Lin has to set him straight.

No, no, no, thought Matt. His weakness had been found out. Even though the Keeper had drawn the wrong conclusion about the tattoo, it was just as devastating. (32.52)

Matt's panic at being "discovered" by the Lost Boys and the Keepers is very intense. And we get an interesting theme introduced here: truths can be just as dangerous as lies.

"I see," said Esperanza. "And the boneyard is just a myth, too."

"You know how it is," Jorge said smoothly. "Boys like to scare one another with stories after dark." (36.69-70)

Esperanza is all about the truth. And Jorge is all about whatever lie will get him what he wants. So who's going to win this showdown?

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