Hello! In this post I will be discussing the narrative structure of The House of the Scorpion.
The exposition begins in the very first chapter “In the Beginning”, but is most prominent in “The Little House on the Poppy Fields” where you are first introduced to Matt’s life in an elusive and lonely manner (Celia repeatedly telling him she is not is mother, his longing for social interaction). I thought there was a lack of information about Matt and was slightly disappointed as I was not invested in his character from the start as I should have been. We also get a first impression of the setting and it’s importance in the novel. I found the exposition very short-winded with the Rising Action beginning in the end of the second chapter. As the rising action ensued, you became engrossed in the mystery and confusion of Matt’s situation, his isolation as a clone, and what it all meant. As the rising action continued, we gained more knowledge about the setting and figured out Matt’s true purpose causing more tension set in by Farmer’s minimalistic yet substantial writing technique.
Though there are several sub-climactic points throughout the story (strategically placed to keep you interest peaked), The climax of the story occurs when Matt returns to Opium and the Alacran estate at the end of the book. I felt that this was a suitable and momentous occasion with Matt accepting his “duty” per say, but really he was doing an act of great bravery and selflessness. The end of the book was both expected and unexpected at the same time. The notion that “once El Patron owns something, he never lets it go” is a reoccurring idea throughout the book and mentioned by multiple characters. Though you understand it is an important element of El Patron’s character, you never anticipate how literal the sentiment is until the end of the novel. I found the resolution and falling action too short and story lines left unexplained. I’m glad that Farmer is finally coming out with a sequel, I’m curious to see whether she will talk about previous minor story arcs or focus on the main arc as the ong thing I definitely disliked about the falling action and resolution was that no minor story arcs were revisited/resolved. What about Tom and Maria’s engagement? How did Maria find her mother? This was the bitter to the slightly bittersweet ending of the book.
One last thing I would like to talk about is that I thought it was curious how Farmer categorized the events of Matt’s life in age sections. In chapter 19 titled “Coming-of-Age” we see Celia and Tam Lin celebrating Matt’s growing up and while reading this scene, we become vaguely aware that perhaps they are celebrating this birthday with an undertone of preparatory mourning and/or grief. As I re-read and analyzed this chapter, I thought that it was conceivable to perceive that maybe the reason it was so momentous for Matt to live to 14 was because he wasn’t supposed to live long at all- and that was why it was called his “old age” in the contents. It then became clear that the categorization of the story by age (or Matt’s progression in his perceived lifetime) was a huge hint Farmer gave to the reader from the get-go- something that surprised me and made me love the novel even more.