Study Guide

The House of the Scorpion Death

By Nancy Farmer


In The House of the Scorpion, no one is more obsessed with death than El Patrón. Let's be honest: he terrified of it, so he uses clones to avoid it altogether. We could have told El Patrón that living forever isn't all it's cracked up to be (just look at Voldemort), but we doubt he would have listened. After all, death is pretty scary, so we can almost understand his fear. Even brave Matt has a terrifying moment in the boneyard, when he comes quite close to dying, and he runs from Opium to avoid death in the first place. But Matt also seems to know that there's something weird and perverse about living forever, especially when it requires you to abuse others. In Matt's mind, death is to be feared, but not to be conquered.

Questions About Death

  1. What is the significance of the childhood memory that El Patrón talks about over and over again, and how does it tie in to his fear of dying?
  2. Do you think El Patrón's fear of death has something to do with the fact that he keeps Opium a hundred years behind the times? How so?
  3. How do María's religious beliefs affect her view of El Patrón and his super long life?
  4. How do you think the various members of the Alacrán estate felt about El Patrón's death? Were they happy? Sad? Afraid? Confused?

Chew on This

Tam Lin does not fear death, and that sets him apart from his powerful employer, El Patrón.

The fate the eejits experience is worse than death.

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