Study Guide

The House of the Scorpion Science

By Nancy Farmer


Well, The House of the Scorpion definitely falls in the science fiction genre, so it's no surprise that science plays a major role. But this book isn't about lab work and discoveries. Instead, Farmer explores the ethics of science. What sort of science is okay for people to do? Is it right to clone people just because (in the world of this book) you can? Is it okay to brainwash people into being "eejits"? Ultimately, Farmer seems to argue that people shouldn't do things just because they can. The science in this book about recognizing our limitations, and using morals to guide our use of science and technology.

Questions About Science

  1. How do most members of the Alacrán clan feel about cloning? Are they supportive or opposed to it?
  2. Do you think the book overall is opposed to cloning and other sorts of genetic engineering? Or do you think there might be some circumstances under which cloning is a-okay?
  3. Why do you think El Patrón keeps Opium a hundred years in the past? Why not take advantage of all the scientific advancements we later learn about when Matt gets to Aztlán?
  4. Now that he knows just how far the world has come scientifically, how do you think Matt will govern the use of science when he takes over Opium?

Chew on This

This novel shows that cloning is wrong, and that science has the potential to be horribly immoral.

Farmer's mixture of scientific advancement and economic depression suggests that science and technology aren't the magical cure-alls. In fact, they can hurt more than they help.

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