Study Guide

The House of the Scorpion Part 4, Age 14

By Nancy Farmer

Part 4, Age 14

Chapter 23


  • Matt is terrified and knows he's about to die.
  • He is taken to El Patrón's bedside, where Celia waits with lots of bodyguards.
  • Talking to Matt, El Patrón explains that he's a good person for keeping Matt's brain intact. He gave him a very nice life, and now he'd like an organ please. Oh sure, El Patrón, lemme just grab my scalpel.
  • El Patrón insists that he was owed the lives of all of his dead siblings. Because none of his siblings lived to adulthood, he has a duty to live those lives for them. So feels like he's due multiple "lifetimes," each in exchange for the siblings he's lost.
  • This starts a fight between Celia and El Patrón. A verbal fight, of course – El Patrón is too weak to move.
  • Celia tells him he's a crazy freak and that El Viejo was the only decent person in the family because he accepted death gracefully and with dignity. She also says Matt owes him nothing.
  • Then she drops an awesome bombshell: Celia has been poisoning Matt since El Patrón had his first heart attack. Not enough to kill Matt, but enough to make his heart unsuitable for a transplant. Well that explains the stomach bug. Good move, Celia.
  • El Patrón goes ballistic, and his heart begins to fail from the shock.
  • Everyone rushes off and Matt is left alone in the room until Mr. Alacrán and Tam Lin come in.
  • El Patrón is dead, they tell him. Mr. Alacrán says they no longer have a use for Matt and tells Tam Lin to kill him.
  • Tam Lin agrees and hauls Matt off. Way to turn on a brother, dude.
  • Matt tries to reason with him, but Tam Lin shuts him down.
  • He says that Celia has been turned into an eejit. Hmm. That doesn't sound right.
  • Tam Lin requests Daft Donald's help with killing Matt and Mr. Alacrán gives him the go ahead.

Chapter 24

A Final Good-bye

  • Daft Donald and Tam Lin tie Matt up with duct tape and throw him over a horse. Tam Lin says he's going to dump Matt out by the eejit pens.
  • When they get far enough away, Tam Lin frees Matt and tells him it was all an act. Whew!
  • Matt, of course, won't just let things go, and he starts yelling that he can't trust a terrorist.
  • Admitting that he's made lots of mistakes, Tam Lin promises Matt that he's really trying to help him.
  • The two go to the Oasis, where Tam Lin explains that he put Celia in the stables and she is pretending to be an eejit.
  • Matt wants Tam Lin to go with him to Aztlán, but Tam Lin says he can't. He has to stay behind in Opium and atone for the bad things he's done.
  • Tam Lin gives Matt last minute instructions: El Patrón kept life in Opium about a hundred years in the past, so Aztlán is going to seem pretty weird and futuristic to Matt.
  • Matt is supposed to head to the Convent of Santa Clara, which is where María is going to school. Tam Lin tells him to find Esperanza, too, since she's a good ally to have.
  • Then, Tam Lin promises to take care of Celia. The two say goodbye and Matt sets off on his own.

Chapter 25

The Farm Patrol

  • In shock, Matt spends an uneasy night outside, and then begins his journey at dawn.
  • Matt has to do some serious rock climbing, but presses on towards the border. As he travels, he Matt looks back at Opium a lot.
  • Matt spends another night outside and the next day, he starts to hear strange sounds. It's the sounds of an urban area: he must be getting closer to Aztlán.
  • Matt waits until dark and makes a run for the border, but the Farm Patrol spot him. A chase ensues. (Great movie scene possibilities here.)
  • A Farm Patrolman grabs Matt's backpack, but Matt shrugs out of it and flings himself over the border, where he lands in an oily black puddle.
  • Welcome to Aztlán.

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