Study Guide

The House of the Scorpion Power

By Nancy Farmer


In the world of The House of the Scorpion, one man has all the power. And that man is El Patrón. Literally everyone in Opium is at the mercy of his will. Though El Patrón may have the power, other characters find ways to have a little bit of control over their lives. We're thinking of Celia's quiet rebellion, and Matt's unwillingness to be defined by his genetic twin. Or María's defiance of her family and willingness to hitch her star to Matt's uncertain wagon. Ultimately, with the death of El Patrón, power in Opium is up for grabs. But we're hopeful that Matt will seize that power and use it for good. All his choices in life have led him up to this point, and we think he's up to the challenge. Do you think so, too?

Questions About Power

  1. Do you think María has any power and influence over Matt? If so, in what ways?
  2. What are some of the ways that El Patrón uses his power to control people? Does he always do negative things to control them, or does he sometimes do positive things?
  3. Does anyone, or anything, have power over El Patrón?
  4. If you had the power to create clones, would you?

Chew on This

A British guy named Lord Acton once said that "absolute power corrupts absolutely," which means that the more power a person gets, the more corrupt he or she is. El Patrón is the perfect example of this idea, because by the end of his life, he is corrupt beyond redemption.

By becoming a leader of his fellow outcast boys, Matt discovers positive ways to use power.

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