Study Guide

The House of the Scorpion Part 3, Old Age: 12 to 14

By Nancy Farmer

Part 3, Old Age: 12 to 14

Chapter 15

A Starved Bird

  • No one is around at the Big House, and Matt is getting bored.
  • To relieve that boredom, he goes to get a Safe Horse for a ride one day. The eejit who brings out the horse is Rosa.
  • Yikes. Matt is totally freaked out to discover that someone he once knew is now an eejit.
  • At the Oasis, he finds some packages and a note from Tam Lin. There's a trunk with supplies like food and a knife and first aid, plus some books.
  • When Matt returns home, he learns that El Viejo is dead. Everyone returns home for the funeral.
  • Even María returns, and – brace yourselves – she's holding hands with Tom. Yuck.
  • After the funeral service, Celia and Matt go up to view the body. The priest flips out and says Matt doesn't belong there since he doesn't have a soul.
  • María stands up for Matt and storms off with him in tow.
  • Matt is shocked that she seems to have forgiven him for the whole Furball incident.
  • The two of them go to the Music Room and then have to hide in the secret passage when they hear people coming.

Chapter 16

Brother Wolf

  • María and Matt make their way to El Patrón's surveillance room and sit down to chat.
  • After having read all about Saint Francis, who doesn't hold things against animals who are just acting as nature dictates, María has forgiven Matt. Way to give a backhanded compliment there, María. Essentially, she is "forgiving" Matt because he's just a clone and doesn't know how to behave.
  • But she tells him to try to be good in the future.
  • Of course Matt just agrees with everything she says because he's got a huge crush on María.
  • Tom and Felicia pop up on the surveillance cameras. They are looking for Matt and María.
  • As Matt and María eavesdrop, Felicia reveals something shocking to Tom: she killed Furball and set Matt up to get back at him for being mean to Tom. Color María stunned.
  • She and Matt sneak back out and run into Tam Lin, who is mad at them both for sneaking away.
  • María's annoyed at Matt for letting her carry on about forgiveness and Saint Francis when he didn't do anything. Matt, we'd suggest just rolling your eyes and moving on.
  • María says goodbye to Matt and Tam Lin leads her away.

Chapter 17

The Eejit Pens

  • After the funeral, everyone leaves, and Matt is left alone again.
  • Because María suggested it, Matt reads Saint Francis. He starts trying to commune with nature and enjoys being outside.
  • He starts to read a book that Tam Lin left him, called A History of Opium, which details how horrible Opium is.
  • Basically, El Patrón and other drug lords got together and made a deal with the United States government. They created a country called Opium, which would solve the illegal immigration problem the US was experiencing, and El Patrón promised not to sell drugs in the United States.
  • El Patrón, we learn, is the most powerful guy in Opium and he came up with the eejit system himself.
  • Matt gets angry when he reads about how evil El Patrón is and thinks that the author must be a hack. He's convinced that El Patrón has big plans for him.
  • One day later on, Matt goes to tour the water treatment plant and wanders off to see where all the polluted water is dumped. Al Gore would not appreciate this set-up, that's for sure.
  • Matt is surprised to see that there are buildings in the toxic water wasteland. Turns out that's where the eejits live.
  • When he almost passes out from the stench, Matt he is rescued by two dudes.
  • Unfortunately, those very same dudes think he's an illegal immigrant. Uh-oh. These guys are members of the dreaded Farm Patrol.
  • When Matt explains who he is, they apologize. Their names are Hugh and Ralf, and they are from the United Kingdom, like Tam Lin. They are murderers, which is how they came to work for El Patrón. Only the best, and most evil, work for El Patrón.
  • Here comes another shocking revelation: Hugh and Ralf tell Matt that Tam Lin is a terrorist.
  • According to these two, he tried to blow up the Prime Minister but ended up blowing up a school bus by accident.

Chapter 18

The Dragon Hoard

  • Celia wakes Matt up abruptly and is freaking out.
  • Matt had gone to bed right after returning from his misadventure at the eejit pens.
  • Before Celia rushes Matt outside and a bodyguard herds them to the hospital, she makes him eat something. Apparently it's going to be a long night.
  • El Patrón has had a heart attack.
  • Matt begins to feel really sick and vomits all over a hospital orderly. The doctors rush him off and he starts hallucinating.
  • When Matt wakes up, Tam Lin is there and says that El Patrón is stable.
  • The doctors placed a donor heart next to El Patrón's own heart to get it going again. The actual donor heart was too small to work on him by itself.
  • Matt tells Tam Lin that he went to the eejit pens. Surprise, surprise, Tam Lin gets mad – he thinks that's why Matt got so sick.
  • Then Celia comes in and becomes hysterical over Matt.
  • Later, we learn that after his heart attack, El Patrón has changed. He's lost a lot of his energy, so Matt spends a lot of time by El Patrón's bedside.
  • One day, Matt brings up Saint Francis and mentions how the historical figure gave all his belongings away.
  • El Patrón perks up at that and starts yelling about how that's the worst idea ever. Okay, so he's not a Franciscan.
  • Tam Lin finds this hilarious and tells Matt that El Patrón is like a dragon – he collects lots of treasure.

Chapter 19

Coming of Age

  • One day, as Matt sings for El Patrón, his voice cracks.
  • Matt is confused, but Celia explains that it just means that he's growing up. Celia and Tam Lin throw Matt a little party to celebrate. Puberty party!
  • When Matt asks how old he is, Tam Lin starts ranting about how Matt was harvested and how they're all treated like lab rats.
  • Celia calms him down and sends Matt to bed.
  • Matt knows that Tam Lin and Celia know something he doesn't, and have for a while. He begins to put things together that night, and realizes what the clones are for: they are used as involuntary organ donors.
  • But Matt just can't believe he's been created only for his organs. After all, El Patrón left his mind intact, unlike that of MacGregor's clone.
  • But then another thought occurs to him. El Patrón is driven by vanity. He likes to see Matt young and smart because Matt is basically another version of him.
  • Matt starts to wonder about all the other El Patrón clones – his brothers, essentially.
  • Celia comes to tell him good night and discovers that Matt is running a fever.
  • Finally, before leaving the room, Tam Lin tells Matt that he's fourteen years old.

Chapter 20


  • Matt wakes up feeling sick, but he gets out of bed anyway and goes to the Oasis.
  • He simply can't decide what to do. Should he run away? Should he believe that El Patrón doesn't plan to cut him up for organs one day? Should he bank on El Patrón living longer?
  • After mulling things over for a bit, Matt goes back to reading A History of Opium, hoping to learn more.
  • The book seems pretty angry about the eejits and how evil El Patrón is. So Matt decides to see who the author is. He finds a picture and a biography of her in the back.
  • Turns out, her name is Esperanza Mendoza: she's Senator Mendoza's ex-wife, and María's mother. (The Senator is María's father.)
  • Matt is shocked because María thinks her mother is dead.
  • That night, Matt comes down with an awful stomach bug.
  • Tam Lin tells Celia that her plan is going to kill Matt and they need a better one. Celia tells him its under control.
  • Although Matt is too out of it to figure out what they are talking about, we can start to put the pieces together.
  • Finally, Matt starts to feel better and goes back to visiting El Patrón, who is starting to have memory troubles.
  • El Patrón starts calling Matt Felipe, and Matt learns that Felipe was El Patrón's son who died eighty years ago.
  • Matt grows increasingly anxious to escape, but he knows he can't leave before Steven and Emilia's wedding.

Chapter 21

Blood Wedding

  • The title of this chapter doesn't bode well for what's about to happen.
  • It's the day of the wedding, and the Big House is in total upheaval.
  • El Patrón had arranged Steven and Emilia's marriage years ago. Luckily, they actually like each other, because otherwise, El Patrón's career as a matchmaker has been spotty; Steven's brother Benito had to marry Fani, the daughter of the Nigerian president. Fani and Benito absolutely hate each other.
  • María arrives and she and Matt sneak off to catch up. María tells Matt all about what she's been up to, and Matt returns the favor.
  • When Matt tries to convince María that he's not like the other clones, she's not convinced and thinks that El Patrón may kill him soon for his heart.
  • The conversation turns to Tom, and María and Matt start to argue about him as well.
  • Turns out, María is supposed to marry Tom in the future, and María is confident she'll be able to change him.
  • Moving on, Matt shows María A History of Opium, written by her mom, and tells María she should try to contact her mother.
  • Matt takes his seat for the ceremony in the secret passage, equipped with a telescope to look through a peephole.
  • During the ceremony, El Patrón passes out and everyone rushes out, leaving Steven and Emilia alone at the altar. Not a perfect day for them, that's for sure.

Chapter 22


  • Matt panics. He's almost certain that El Patrón means to kill him for organs, but he's not positive.
  • María comes to the passage, and tells him to stay there until she can come back for him. She says they can steal her dad's hovercraft and pretend Matt is her eejit servant.
  • Matt waits and waits, feeling tired and thirsty until María finally comes back with some water and an update: El Patrón is doing better.
  • After Matt changes into the eejit uniform María has brought him, the two make their way out to the hovercraft.
  • Somewhere in the passage, they arrive at a point at which they can go no further without giving a handprint scan. The scanner looks like a red scorpion.
  • María thinks it's El Patrón's secret escape passage, and she's scared that the scanner won't recognize Matt as El Patrón, meaning they'll probably both die.
  • In a moment of now or never, the two declare their love for one another, and Matt touches the scorpion. And…
  • The passage door opens! Matt and María run into a tunnel and finally emerge outside by the hovercraft landing field.
  • Steven and Emilia come up as Matt and María are getting on the hovercraft.
  • María tries to tell Emilia that their mother is alive, but Emilia already knows. Well, then.
  • Steven and Emilia tell Matt that he has to go to the hospital, and they both tell María to stop being so childish.
  • Matt is led off by the bodyguards as María screams for someone to help him. Epic moment, that's for sure.

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