Sunday, 12 May 2013

Individual Post 6: Film Study

     Matt and Vincent are the protagonists of The House of the Scorpion, and Gattaca. Right off the bat, an obvious similarity is the relationships between Vincent and Irene, and Matt and María. Both Matt and Vincent face troubles when María and Irene find out what they could look like. I find this interesting, but there are some differences. Matt, in the end, seems to keep his relationship with María, while Vincent decides he probably won't go back to earth. In both Gattaca and The House of the Scorpion, there are genetically inferior humans. Clones are made stupid, and Invalids are not allowed to do anything but menial tasks. They both want to be recognized as what their societies view as normal people. There are also some more major differences. One is that Matt was made just for his organs, whereas Vincent was still a "functioning part of society." Some other things are that Vincent can become a borrowed ladder, and Matt is stuck under the terrible title "Clone" until El Patrón dies.

I made some choice selections from the book, usually one for each point I made above:

     He was ignored. Not mistreated, just ignored. Only María had to be dragged off, complaining loudly. (Farmer 64)

He would read and color and count until he became the best student in the whole world, and then the children would like him and they wouldn't run away. (Farmer 74)

"... You're not a dog. You're so much much more."
     Ordinarily, Matt would have been thrilled by María's words, but the situation was too dire for happiness. (Farmer 217)

Why had the fierce man called him a “little beast”? And why had Emilia told Maria he was a “bad animal”?
            It had something to do with being a clone and also, perhaps, the writing on his foot. (Farmer 34)

     "I'm here to inform you we no longer need your services," Mr. Alacrán said.
     Matt gasped. That meant El Patrón was dead. (Farmer 238)
     "Oh, you were a clone. There's no mistake about that. But we're talking international law now." (Farmer 366)

      "It means you really are El Patrón. You have his body and his identity. You own everything he owned and rule everything he ruled..." (Farmer 367)

Individual Post 5: Narrative Structure

     On it's way to the climax, this book will often go from rising action to falling action and back again. I know this is quite common among longer books. It wouldn't be exciting if it were the same rising action for 200 or even 300 pages. However, one very unique thing I found was I couldn’t really choose 1 specific chapter for the climax. The action continues to rise after what one may think of as the point for falling action to begin. Also, there are really only one to two chapters of introduction, or exposition. You learn more as the book progresses. Now, I think this can repel readers by giving them too little information and them thinking, “uh, ok, but no thanks. I don’t know enough to actually understand what is happening.” But, there is a flipside. Readers can be drawn in by the lack of information and the knowledge that there must be more inside.

     So, to go a little more in depth about the exposition, the strategy Farmer used was interesting. She gave the only chapter in the book not from Matt’s perspective to the man who was given the task of getting at least one Matt to be born. This, I found, only served as a way to gain info on the backstory, and could mislead readers to think that the chapters would be from different perspectives.

     Next are the series of rising and falling actions leading to the end of the book. There seemed to be one of these for each of the times when a major change occurred in Matt. Either he found out something, or interacted with someone to result in a plot twist (usually although, sometimes there were opinion changes). Towards the end of the book, it became apparent that no falling action was happening. It was a dissatisfying cliffhanger end that left you trying to piece together what would happen to Matt. The author to my knowledge also wasn’t going to write a sequel – but apparently one is coming out around September of this year.

     I personally think there was no falling action really because Farmer wanted the readers to make up their own individual versions of what happened to Matt, María, Celia, Esperanza, the lost boys, and the US and Aztlán. But I don’t feel we can do that, because Farmer knows Matt better than any of us.

(I chose not to include specific evidence because I wanted to focus specifically on the structure, not the story)

Individual Post 4: Theme

     Identity is defined by choices, but you can change the amount that they change your identity.

     I chose this as my theme statement because this book is all about choices. El Patrón having clones for his brothers and sisters lives. Choice. Tam Lin deciding to confide and look out for Matt. Choice. Celia treating Matt like a son. Choice. SO many aspects of the book revolve around choices. In the end though, Matt could almost choose how he reacted and how his identity changed through those choices. For instance, he decided not, in the end to let Steven and Emilia's neutral-hostility to him change him. He let María's feelings for him and his for her change him. He let Tam Lin become a fatherly figure to him, and reached a point where he loved him.

     Identity is another part of my theme statement, and I really can say that it's a large part of the novel. You build this picture of the feelings and try to guess at the reason for certain choices each character made. The best spot to look at that kind of thing is in roundtables. But identity remains a large part of most stories, and in many, the identity of the characters changes. Sometimes it is fast, as the novel takes place over long periods of time, but sometimes it is over a short period, and the change is slower paced. Defining is also a fairly large part of the novel, from actually defining the law to looking at major aspects of the characters and saying, "oh, he is a very rude boy who cares only for his selfish wants (Tom)."

"The aristocrat is only a snot-faced boy who thinks he's too good for the rest of us..." (Farmer 287)

     "Oh, you were a clone. There's no mistake about that. But we're talking international law now." (Farmer 366)

      "It means you really are El Patrón. You have his his body and his identity. You own everything he owned and rule everything he ruled..." (Farmer 367)

     Matt suddenly felt light-headed. She was right. He was El Patrón's clone. His fingerprints would be the same, his DNA identical. "If you're wrong," he told María, we'll die." (Farmer 222) (Here is where Matt chooses to try his luck with the El Patrón-only fingerprint/DNA scanner)

Individual Post 3: Connections to Real World Issues

     In 2002, the year The House of the Scorpion was first published, there was over 5,000 tons of Opium produced for both illegal and legal purposes. That is 2.5 TIMES the amount produced in 1980. Still, estimates show that to meet medical demand, opium production should be around 25,000 tons/year (Wikipedia 1). Opium is a big issue in The House of the Scorpion, as the country of Opium has based its whole economy on what we think of as illegal drugs. In Opium, from what I can gather, all drugs are legal. Opium made and agreement with the USA. That was that they would not ship drugs to them (the USA), however, this just meant that drugs were shipped to Africa, Europe, and Asia instead. In our world today, illegal drugs (narcotics) are a problem on the streets. Drugs such as heroine or morphine can be derived from poppies, which, in turn, opium is derived from. These are some select moments where Matt is given hints or understands the problem with drugs.

“… The cleanup crews at the end of the day will find him.” (Farmer 78) (In reference to the dead eejit in the field)

He understood the full extent of it now. It wasn’t only the drug addicts throughout the world or the Illegals doomed to slavery. It was their orphaned children as well. You could say the old man was responsible for the Keepers. (Farmer 368)

            Another issue I noticed was cloning. National Geographic recently published a magazine with cloning as a topic on the front cover. Intrigued, I read it. What I found inside stunned me. Cloning is possible! But humans, as a race, are considering whether it is moral and ethical. Would adapted ecosystems be harmed from the reintroduction of extinct species? Do we, as a race owe it to the species to revive them because we made them go extinct?

Why had the fierce man called him a “little beast”? And why had Emilia told Maria he was a “bad animal”?
            It had something to do with being a clone and also, perhaps, the writing on his foot. (Farmer 34)

Drug production, except medicinal purposes is bad for our world, as this book shows. And again, from what I gather, cloning of humans for organs is legal in many countries in The House of the Scorpion. And what I have to say to that is: Would you kill yourself for your own organs in another version of you?

“Opium” Wikipedia n.p. n.d. May 10, 2013