Study Guide

The House of the Scorpion Slavery

By Nancy Farmer


"Someone isn't going to get a smiley face on his paper," Teacher said with a gasp, leaning against the wall. She started to whimper like a frightened animal. (7.69)

Matt's youthful rage in this scene is downright scary, and the Teacher's response is so pathetic that we (and Matt) can't feel anything but awful.

"An eejit is a person or animal with an implant in its head," said Tam Lin. (8.65)

All it takes to make someone El Patrón's helpless slave is an implant. That's science run amok. We don't know about you, but this is not the kind of future Shmoop is hoping for.

"Rosa?" Matt said.
She looked at him. "Do you wish another horse, Master?" The voice was the same, but the old anger was gone. (15.7-8)

What's really interesting and shocking here is not that Rosa is an eejit, but what being an eejit has done to her. Anger, the emotion that defined her character to us and Matt, is gone. In fact, she has no emotions whatsoever.

Surely, opium could be grown by normal people. They might not be as efficient, but anything was better than a mindless army of slaves. (17.31)

Even at a young age, Matt recognizes the horrors of slavery and wants to fix it somehow. And already he knows that compassion is more important than efficiency. At least someone in Opium gets it.

El Patrón sold those people's souls to the Devil! When they died, he plowed their bodies into the dirt for fertilizer. The roots of Opium are watered in blood. (20.23)

Esperanza may sound a bit over-the-top. But, she's also totally right. El Patrón built his empire on the backs of slaves, and that's just plain wrong.

Matt thought they made a pretty picture until he realized that the little girls were eejits. (21.13)

This is proof – appearances can be deceiving. What seems a lovely wedding is made totally creepy by the fact that the flower girls are slaves. That's not the picture perfect nuptials we all dream about.

The clean word for them was zombies. Whatever they were called, Matt thought they deserved pity, not hatred. (27.140)

In Aztlán, people use different names for all sorts of things, including the descriptive word "zombie" for the eejit slaves. The use of the word zombie is revealing: these boys see eejits (many of whom were once their relatives, we might add) as the walking undead. Eejits aren't just sad – they're scary.

"All our parents are crots." A flurry of voices rose telling Ton-Ton to shut up. "Our mamas and papas aren't b-bad, just unlucky," the boy went on in his relentless way, "and M-Matt isn't bad either!" (32.61)

Good for you, Ton-Ton. He knows what's up. It's not the eejit's fault that they're eejits, and it's not Matt's fault that he's a clone. They just don't have any say in the matter.

"Are you saying - ?" the Keeper stopped, as though he couldn't believe what he was hearing. "Are you suggesting we turn the horse into a zombie?"

"I don't see much difference between that and sawing off the extra leg," said Matt. (27.125-26)

Matt recognizes that there are a lot of different forms of slavery and that the Keepers are enslaving the Lost Boys just as El Patrón enslaves the eejits, no matter what they tell themselves.

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