Sunday, 12 May 2013

The House of the Scorpion: Narrative Structure

The House of the Scorpion: Narrative Structure

Written By: Heather Ngo

Novel By: Nancy Farmer

The House of the Scorpion was truly a brilliant novel because of the changing and rocky narrative structure. The novel was shaped on various mini climaxes that eventually led to the main picture and goal of Matt. Farmer uses hints, similes, and metaphors to help her readers understand the true purpose of Matt and his importance to the antagonist. To say that this novel was "good" is definitely an understatement and Farmer makes sure that the importance of all events is recognized and pertain to the protagonist, Matt.

1.) Exposition:
I believe that the exposition first began when he saw the 3 children, Emilia, Steven, and Maria. At this point in the story, Matt is first exposed to a brand new beginning and is now open to the environment of new possibilities. From this moment, Matt's life changed and was one of the only times where he started to experience hardships and difficulties, this was also one of the last moments before Matt was known to be a clone. When Matt first encountered these "children", the only thought that came to his head was the pure joy of meeting them and having someone to play with. After many years of isolation and desolation he was faced with human faces that belong to someone other than Celia. "Matt was swept with such an intense of feeling of desolation he thought he would dies. He hugged himself to keep from screaming. He gasped with sobs. Tears rolled down his cheeks. And then -- and then -- beyond the noise of the soap opera and his own sobs, Matt heard a voice calling. It was clear and strong -- a child's voice. And it was real"(Farmer, 9)

Overall I thought that the exposition was expertly crafted and allowed the readers to have a basic understanding of Matt. We are entering into one of Matt's fears and insecurities and I think Farmer gave us many supporting details to back up this point. Although some may argue that the exposition was quite short, I think this enables the author to focus on developing her plot and create much more stronger events that later on pertain to the protagonist and novel.

2.) Rising Action:
I think there were many times that "rising action" was in effect and many can argue that there were multiple climaxes in the novel. If you look at my narrative map below, you are able to depict that the main rising action was when El Patron died and when Matt escaped from the boneyard of whales. Overall I thought that Farmer did a great job at crating her rising action because it truly kept her audience wanting for more. There were often times where there was insecurities of whether or not Chacho would die.

3.) Climax:
Although there are many mini climaxes spread throughout the novel of the House of the Scorpion, I believe that the central and main one that Farmer focuses on is located on pg. 367. "First of all, Matt, you aren't a clone" (Pg. 366) from this one statement, Matt's reactions were quick and startled. After living his entire life in the shadows of others and being referred to as a "beast" (Farmer, 34), "monster" (Farmer, 44) and "animal" (Farmer, 27), the news of not being a clone was unbelievable. From the beginning to the end I think Matt's main goal was to rule Opium and have society accept him, after Esperanza broke the news to him he is able to know that he does have a soul and that he won't be considered an outsider anymore.

I think the climax was well chosen because it adds a mysterious twist to the novel. I think Farmer did a great job at getting her point to the readers and was able to make them wanting for more. From the beginning to the end of the novel, we saw that Matt's sole purpose was to give his heart to El Patron. However by escaping, he was able to slip away from this terrible fate. Matt is one of the only individuals in Opium that has all the tools for success. Some examples of knowledge that only Matt was able to acquire ranged from the method to approach humans and servants and the way to make your enemy fear you. Although the other children of the Alacran Estate were equipped with the basic knowledge of the drug, only Matt had the advantage of first hand knowledge from Tam Lin and El Patron himself.

4.) Falling Action:
I thought that the falling action in the novel was when Matt travelled back to Opium and heard the eerie silence. After the excitement of learning that he is El Patron, he is faced with more shocking news that the people of Opium have died along with El Patron. "I went from one person to the next, trying to make them, but they were all dead" (Farmer, 375). This moment the excitement died down and instead of happiness, responsibility and small amounts of sorrow filled Matt instead.

Although the falling action was quite short, I think Farmer was still able to add just enough supporting details that her readers would be satisfied with. One of the only things that I am dissatisfied with was the death of Tam Lin. Although it felt like it was essential to have (grief and misery), I think Farmer could have include him into the sequel of the House of the Scorpion. Tam Lin played a fatherly figure in the book and it would have been very interesting to see where he ended up during Matt's rule.

5.) Resolution:
Just like the falling action, I think the resolution was the death of the Alacran people. Along with treasures and gifts, El Patron's dragon hoard included the death of people. I think this was the resolution because Matt no longer needs to face the difficulties of the society. Although he is now El Patron, nothing and no one stands in his way and the path to a new rule is evident.

Overall I think that Farmer was an exquisite writer who was able to provide her readers with substantial and strong supporting details that help with the development and growth of the story. I am certainly excited for Nancy Farmer's sequel!

My View on the Narrative Structure of The House of the Scorpion:

1st Point: The Encounter of the 3 Children --> Emelia, Steven, and Maria
1st Rising Action: The Big House + The Treatment ("Beasts", "Monster", ect.)
2nd Point: The Realization of True Purpose
     -"So many hints! So many clues! Like a pebble that starts an avalanche, Matt's fear shook loose more and more memories [that led to the realization of his true purpose]" -Matt Pg. 216
3rd Point: El Patron Dies
    -"There were eight of us and only I lived to grow up. Don't you think I'm owed those lives?" -El Patron Pg. 233
4th Point: Escape to Aztlan and Indirect Rebellion Amongst the Keepers (Aristocrat)
5th Point: Escape and Rescue from the Whale Boneyard
5th Rising Action: Time in the Hospital (After Whale Boneyard)
6th Point (Main Climax): Encounter of Esperanza and Discovery of True Identity (El Patron, Clones, and Challenge of saving Opium)
7th Point (Resolution): Alacran Family Dies
8th Point: The End!