Sunday, 12 May 2013

Individual Post-Real World Applications

*Please note: this post is not without spoilers*
     One of the most obvious connections to the real world that I saw in The House of the Scorpion was when Matt was at the different orphanages and all the boys had to work making sandals, measuring pills, raising plankton etc. and child labor. Free the Children was founded by Craig Keilburger in 1995 when he was twelve years old because of a news story that he read. There was a boy named Iqbal who spoke out wanting to get rights for children. He had been sold as a slave when he was four years old and then he spent six years chained and working at a carpet loom. Because Iqbal spoke up he was killed when he was only twelve.
     We like to think of our world as a perfect place and many of us like to pretend that issues like child labor don't exist anymore. The fact is child labor is still a problem that needs to be solved. The novel made it seem that well the work the boy's did was hard they still lived fairly nice lives. They all had enough to eat, they were told stories and only whipped very occasionally. In real life it wouldn't be that nice. I assume there would be food shortages and there would be very hard work with minimal to no pay in dangerous conditions.

Individual Post-Film Study

*Please note: this post is not without spoilers*
     We watched the film Gattaca then we were asked to compare the main character of the movie with the main character of our novel study book The House of the Scorpion. I saw several similarities between Vincent (Gattaca) and Matt (The House of the Scorpion). The first I saw was that as part of the lower classes in society they're almost automatically blamed for any tragedies that occurred. For example in Gattaca when the president is killed as an invalid Vincent was blamed just because he was the only invalid at the scene of the crime even though he didn't kill anyone. With Matt, particularly with Furball, he was automatically blamed because he kidnapped Furball in the first place even though he didn't kill anyone. I also noticed that the film and novel had similar themes that were others can't tell you what you can and can't do, only you can. There's also the fact that because Vincent and Matt are different from everyone else in society they're aren't welcome even though they're both exceedingly smart and that they've proved themselves countless times. Another startling similarity between the two was when the real Jerome dies in the movie he passes on his identity to Vincent and when El Patron dies in the novel he passes on his identity to Matt. The largest difference I saw between Vincent and Matt was that Vincent decided to go out into the world and do something. He started off by cleaning Gattaca and then he eventually found a way into the top class of the society where he could eventually achieve his dream and did. Matt didn't do very much besides sit quietly in the shadow of El Patron and he only went out into the world because he would have died otherwise.
     While watching the movie I couldn't get the idea out of my head of how similar Gattaca was to The Hunt by Andrew Fukuda. The two main characters, Gene and Vincent, are both blending in with a society where they don't belong. The consequences of being found are different for  each one however. If Gene were to be caught he would be killed however if Vincent were to be caught he would go to prison. The two girls they fall in love with are both similar. Ashley June from The Hunt was also a human like Gene and Irene from Gattaca also had a heart problem like Vincent. Ashley June was much better at blending in than Gene was and Irene's heart problem was a lot less likely to cause her problems than Vincent's heart.

Individual Post-Narritive Structure

     I think the exposition in this particular novel was rather long however there was lots of little climaxes throughout it to help hold the reader's interest. Learning that he's a clone, going to prison, the death of Furball, etc. are examples of the mini climaxes placed throughout the exposition. The mini climaxes also lead up to the where the rising action begins because you can't say that the exposition was flat as expositions are sometimes shown on narrative maps. I think the rising action began when Matt learns that what his purpose is then when El Patron dies and Matt is sent off the adventure of his life. "Ah my mind was wandering. I love the way swallows turn just before they're about to crash into the ground. No. lad. You wouldn't be able to survive. It's better if you go to Aztlán." Aztlán! Matt's heart gave a bound." (Farmer 244). The majority of La Vida Nueva is rising action towards the climax however unlike the rising action in the exposition the rising action in La Vida Nueva is a lot faster and closer together. I was conflicted about the actual climax of the novel however after a lot of thought I think that the main climax of the novel (the point with the MOST action) was when Matt and Chacho escaped from the bone pit and then when Matt, Chacho, Fedilito, and Ton-Ton escaped. The falling action also had a couple mini climaxes including when Matt finally meets Esperanza (María's mother) and then getting back into the country of Opium are all examples of the mini climaxes in the falling action. I think the resolution of the novel would have been when Matt learns that everyone dies and then Matt becomes the new ruler of Opium. I've drawn a narrative map of what I've explained above to help you understand what I've been trying to explain.

Individual Post-Theme

*Please note: this post is not without spoilers*
     As stated in our litspiration challenge dedicated to theme I think the theme of this novel, The House of the Scorpion, is that you decide your who you are and what you're worth, no one else. As a clone Matt faces the disgust of the people around him because humans believe they are better than clones but as Tam Lin explains "No one can tell the difference between a clone and a human. That's because there isn't any difference. The idea of clones being inferior is a filthy lie." (Farmer 245). Despite being a clone of El Patron Matt is his own individual person. He has a certain talent for music including the piano, guitar and singing. The novel explained that Matt was the first of El Patron's clones that had taken to music. 
    Two of the several sub themes in the novel included that no matter who or what you are someone will love you for who you are and people are not always as they seem. María and Celia both love Matt despite his being a clone. Celia took care of Matt when he was younger and she treated him like she would treat anyone else even they weren't clones. María loved Matt and even when she was forbidden from seeing him she still did and when Matt stopped talking she was there and she never gave up on him. María also defended Matt when the priest at El Viejo's funeral wanted him out of the church. She was his friend despite him being blamed for the death of Furball and being a clone.
     The second sub theme is that people are not always as they seem. Matt origionally thought that El Patron loved him and would take care of him and that he was educated because El Patron cared for him but it wasn't true. El Patron only wanted Matt to keep himself well and alive. Tom may look like an angel but he's a truly horrible person. And Celia who seemed so kind, gentle and submissive turns out that she saves Matt's life and kills El Patron in the process. 

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Individual Post-Characterization

*Please note: this post is not without spoilers*
     The main character in the novel, The House of the Scorpion, was Matteo Alacrán otherwise known as Matt. I think the main antagonist of the novel was El Patron because throughout the novel Matt has to struggle to overcome the opinions of others because he's a clone. Originally I thought being a clone was the antagonist but then I thought that because El Patron wanted him to be created and had the scientist make Matt so it's El Patron's fault that Matt is a clone. There were several round characters in the novel including Matt, María, El Patron, and Tam Lin. Along with round characters there are flat characters including Rosa, Celia, Chacho, Ton-Ton etc.. As in nearly every story there are stock characters. Some of the stock characters in this novel included Celia, Tom, the doctor, eejits etc.. Here is my STEAL analysis for Matt.

S: As explained by the orphan boys befriended by Matt he's called an aristocrat due to the way he talks and how he's always thinking. "I don't know. It's how you talk, partly. And you're always thinking." (Farmer 288). From the way Matt talked the boys were able to figure out he was different but not in the way they expected.
T: As I said earlier Matt is called an aristocrat because he's always thinking. The boys at the orphanages just did their work and the book never mentioned that there were any escape attempts made in the past. From the moment Matt first arrived he was thinking about how to get to Maria and he would do whatever it took to get there.
E: As a clone most people (everyone but Maria, Celia, Tam Lin, and El Patron) despised him and thought of themselves as much better than Matt. It didn't matter that Matt was just as smart as anyone else or that he could the run the country of Opium just as well as Steven could. People kept their distance from Matt despite, as Tam Lin says, "No one can tell a difference between a clone and a human. That's because there isn't any difference. The idea of clones being inferior is a filthy lie." (Farmer 245) I think in the sequel (that should be coming out soon) that Matt is going to have a very big influence on everyone in the country of Opium as the leader.
A: It's clear throughout the novel that while Matt is a replica of El Patron he is his own person. For example Matt takes an interest to music and the novel specifically talks about how Matt plays the piono very well and how he sang and played the guitar for El Patron. There were also times in the novel where Matt would suggest something and it would be completely different than what El Patron would do. For example "Saint Francis says it's good to give stuff away to the poor." Matt suggested. The change that came over El Patron then was extraordinary. He drew himself up in the bed. His eyes flashed, and energy bubbled up from some unknown reservoir. "Give . . . things . . . away?" He cried in the voice of a man one hundred years younger. "Give things away? I can't believe I heard that! What have they been teaching you!" (Farmer 184)
L: I can't remember the book ever explaining exactly what Matt looked like probably because so much time passes from section to section. I imaged Matt to always have brown hair and blue eyes though I don't know why exactly.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Litspiration #3-Theme

For our third litspiration challenge we created a movie trailer for the book The House of the Scorpion. However instead of focusing on the plot of the novel we tried to think more critically about the book and create a movie trailer regarding the theme of the novel.

To see our video click here. The password for our video is: Arthrophobia

     We thought long and hard about the theme (to hear our discussion please view round table number six) and we finally decided that the largest theme in the novel is that others can't decide your self worth, you do. We chose two quotes by Tam Lin that we thought well represented this theme. The first one we chose was "Any rat in a sewer can lie but a human doesn't because he is something more." (Farmer) . We thought it was very important that there were people in the novel who thought of Matt as a person. Tam Lin was one of the very few who saw Matt not as a clone but as an equal. Even Maria who Matt cares very much about still sees him as a clone at times. For example Maria tells Matt that, like an animal, he doesn't have a soul so instead when he dies he can neither go to heaven or hell but he stays somewhere in the middle. The second quote we chose was also told by Tam Lin and it was "No one can tell a difference between a clone and a human. That's because there isn't any difference. The idea of clones being inferior is a filthy lie." (Farmer 245). Like the first quote we thought it was important that there were people in Matt life that believed he could be more and that he could become someone, not an it. We also thought it important that Tam Lin said this to Matt because throughout the novel Tam Lin acts as the fatherly figure and it's obvious that Matt takes strength from Tam Lin's words and we thought if anyone else had said this Matt he may not have believed those words as much as if Tam Lin had told him. Since he truly idolizes Tam Lin his encouragement helps Matt break past the opinion of others.
     We chose scenes from the novel that related to our theme statement from the beginning in the lab where Matt was born to Mr. Alacran throwing Matt out of the house because he was a clone and Matt learning to the play the piano. Music was a very important part of Matt's individual person because El Patron's other clones hadn't taken music as Matt had and this is one of the differences that helps Matt to be different person than El Patron or one of the other clones. If you have any questions feel free to email us or leave a comment.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Individual Post-Setting

*Please note: this post is not without spoilers*
     The House of the Scorpion is set in a future world in a country called Opium. Several times in the novel it explains that Opium is a strip of land between the United States and Mexico. When I say that this novel is set in the future I think it's only seventy five to a hundred years instead of s billion years in the future. Clones seem like something that could be developed fairly soon however when the novel mentions hovercrafts I think that this sort of technology is something that will take humans longer to develop.
     The various scene specific settings such as the little house in the poppy fields and the oasis tell you a lot more about the characters than I had originally thought. For example Celia's house tells you a lot about Celia. I image her house to be warm, cozy, welcoming, friendly, etc. like Celia. The oasis reflects Tam Lin who is mysterious and holds many secrets. I think that how the settings reflect some of the characters it helps to drive the narratives. By giving the reader hints about the characters and how the characters react in different environments it helps you to be able to see the different sides of the characters and it makes you curious to read more.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Litspiration #2-Characterization

     This is our second litspiration challenge for our novel study book The House of the Scorpion. Originally we were supposed to create a playlist for one of the character in our novel however the expectations were changed later on and we were allowed to choose anything including books, movies, etc. as long as we gave an explanation. To view our round tables and other lispiration challenge please go to our house of the scorpion blog which can be found here.

Click here for credit. 
Change by Taylor Swift 
Chosen and Written by Kirsten
We chose this song for Maria’s playlist for several reasons the main one being the message that the lyrics convey. The lyrics talk about fighting a battle and waiting for change this is a very fitting metaphor for Matt’s and Maria’s situation. Maria wants to be friends with Matt but her family is stopping her from talking to him however she fights them and sneaks away to spend time with Matt and is constantly waiting for the day she does not have to sneak away anymore.  The other reason we chose this song was the upbeat tune to represent how hopeful Maria was that things would actually change. Some of the lyrics that I thought best suited Maria’s character within this song are:-  “ Can you feel it now these wall that they put up to hold us back will fall down.” This is my favorite verse in the whole song as it illustrates that Matt is an outcast and held back by the fact he is a clone however Maria ignores this and loves him for who he is not what he is. ( “I love you,” Matt said. “I love you, too,” said Maria. Farmer 222) - “These things will change.” Although it is a simple phrase it definitely reflects the hope Maria has throughout the book. - “ It’s hard to fight when the fight ain’t fair.” This phrase is also a very powerful  expression of Maria’s life she is constantly trying to fight what she believes is wrong such as testing on animals (“ They’re doing experiments on cats.” Maria cried suddenly. “Oh, please! You’ve got to help me rescue them.” Farmer 118). or bringing Matt food when he is taken prisoner (“ Rosa said they didn’t give you dinner . She’s so mean!.” Farmer 30). However she is fighting against people that have a lot of power over her so her fight is hard to win. If you would like to listen to this song click here.

If No One Will Listen by Keri Noble
Chosen and Written by Danika
“If no one will listen when you decide to speak
if no one’s left standing after the bombs explode
if no one wants to look at you for what you really you are, i’ll be here still”
The song describes how Maria listens to Matt even when no one else does. For example, “if no one will listen if you decide to speak” explains how no one listens to Matt when he tries to say something, like about not killing Furball. “The bombs explode” is also a metaphor for when people found out he was a clone, and therefore leads to the next line, “if no one wants to look at you for what you really are, I’ll be here still.” Maria did exactly that because when they found out what Matt really was (a clone) she continued to see him.
“If you find your fists are raw and red from beating yourself down
if your legs have given out under the weight
if you find that you’ve been settling for a world of grey
so you wouldn’t have to face down your own hate”

This describes how Matt thinks less of himself because he is a “dirty clone” and that he doesn’t always do anything to change the way people think of him. This connects to Maria because when he tried to explain that he didn’t kill the dog, he eventually just gave up and let Maria and everyone else think that. After the Furball incident and Maria finds out the truth, I think the song relates even more to her because she now trusts Matt and listens to him even more.

“But what if you unlock the gate that keeps your secret soul?

do you think there’s enough that you might drown?”
This really describes a conversation Maria had with Matt because she’s talking about how Matt doesn’t have a soul, which is why he’s like an animal. But I think if Maria listened to this song she might think about if Matt really does have a “secret soul”, and differentiate from El Patron despite being his clone. 

I Won't Give Up by Jason Mraz
Chosen and Written by Jami
Click here for credit.
*“I won’t give up on us, even if the skies get rough...” Maria won’t give up on Matt (or Tom for that matter) through the difficulties they face. Even though Tom and Matt can be mean to Maria she’ll be angry for a little while but in the end she’s still their friend and she’ll still be there.
*”I’m still lookin’ up..” Maria seems like the sort of character who always looks on the bright side and even in dark times she can find the good like she can find the good in people or clones like Matt.
*”I’ll be here patiently waitin’...” We chose this lyric specifically because it reminded us of when Matt stopped speaking and Maria waited (though not that patiently) for him to start talking again and she was there as much as she could be.
*”God knows you’re worth it...” We thought this lyric represented Maria’s religious beliefs. In chapter eighteen (A Starved Bird) Maria explains “Saint Francis would take a dog to church,” Maria said in a clear, high voice. Where had she come from? Matt turned to find her right beside him. She was even more beautiful close up. “Saint Francis took a wolf to church,” she said. “He loved all animals.” (Farmer 154)
*”I don’t wanna be someone who walks away so easily I’m here to stay and make the difference I can make. Our difference they teach us a lot for how to use the tools we got. We got a lot at stake and in the end you’re still my friend at least for us to work we didn’t break we didn’t burn we had to learn how to bend without the world cavin’ in. I had to learn what I’ve got, what I’m not and who I am...” We thought this whole part of the song represented Maria because of the reasons explained above and I wanted to point out the bolded line in particular. I thought it was almost a perfect representation of Maria and Matt’s relationship that has gone through hard times but like the song says they didn’t break, they didn’t burn and they’re still friends.
If you'd like to listen to this song, click here.

Song of Healing by Koji Kondo
Chosen by Joel, Written by Daniel
The whole song, despite being instrumental, represents healing your soul.. This represents Maria because she wanted to heal Matt’s soul after she believes that animals can also have souls. She also wants to heal his soul after he shows that he is sorry. Finally, she wanted to forgive Matt for what he did to heal her own soul. That what Maria’s character is all about, really: Forgiveness. She wants to forgive all who wrong her as well as those she wrongs.

Pocketful of Sunshine by Natasha Bedingfield
Chosen and Written by Kirsten
Click here for credit.
We picked this song for Maria’s playlist because we wanted a song that reflected her upbeat and optimistic personality despite the turmoil in her life. The title of the song itself (A Pocketful of Sunshine) demonstrates what we are looking for the song talks about never being broken or controlled and this really fits Maria as she often getting in trouble however she stubbornly clings to what she wants and won’t let go.
Some of the lyrics that I thought best suited Maria’s character within this song are:
- “ Do what you want but you’ll never control me.” I think this lyric suits Maria’s determination and despite the fact she gets into a lot of trouble she remains that way and still remains friends with Matt. ( “You’re going to be in big trouble when Dada finds out.” called Emilia. “Be sure and tell him!” retorted Maria.  Farmer 154 ).
- “ No more lies and nobody cries..” This illustrates the way Maria wants the world to be.
- ‘A sweet escape..” This represents how Maria longs for an escape either from her strict boarding school or her fathers harsh rules ( “No. I can’t guess what Dada would do if he found it.” Farmer 210 ).
If you would like to listen to this song click here.

Wish Them Well by Rush
Chosen and Written by Joel
Wish Them Well relates to Maria mainly at this part: Thank your stars you're not that way Turn your back and walk away Don't even pause and ask them why Turn around and say goodbye It relates to what people say about Matt, like the priest, and how Maria thinks differently as opposed to everybody’s expectations. Everybody is disgusted at Matt, and it feels like Maria isn’t and trusts him a little more. She may feel as if people are unreasonable towards Matt. Especially where is says “thank your stars you’re not that way” it relates to people in the novel saying “good thing YOU are not a clone.”People who judge without a measure of mercy All the victims who will never learn Even the lost ones, you can only give up on This relates to what Maria thinks and how everyone judges Matt just because he is a slave. She thinks more of him, and so she ‘wishes him well.’ Everyone judges Matt without giving it a seconds thought, judging without a measure of mercy, all because he is a clone. It was amazing to see early on in the novel at how the children reacted to Matt before and after discovering that he was a clone. The sentence “all the victims who will never learn” could show how Maria thinks that there are so many people that will never learn the not all clones are animals. The “lost ones” could possibly refer to the people like Tom and Felicia that absolutely despise Matt just because he is a clone. Even though you're going through hell Just keep on going Let the demons dwell Just wish them wellThis shows how Maria is confused about her emotions and “going through hell” about who to trust, who she should be friends with like Tom or Matt. The demons can refer to everyone who says “Matt is a slave so I hate him” and how she does not know what to think of that, so she lets them dwell, and, of course, wishes Matt well. The ones who've done you wrong The ones who pretended to be so strong This also relates to how Maria felt after she had discovered how evil Tom and Felicia were while in the secret closet.Afterwords, Maria wishes Matt well and forgives him for something he didn’t do. She and him grow closer. “The ones who pretended to be so strong” refers to Tom and how she now looks at him in a new light after he showed joy at Furball’s death.

I Got You by Leona Lewis
Chosen and Written by Danika
“No need to ask, I got you
come and pick you up if I have to
and when you need a place to run to, for better for worse, I got you”

This is what happens almost exactly in Chapter 15. Matt is in the line to pay his respects to El Viejo, and the Priest proclaims that this cannot be at the funeral. Maria comes along and defends Matt, despite the fact that she was upset with him, hadn’t seen him for months, and he didn’t ask for him help (Farmer 154). Then she tries to take him to a place where they can “run to” and hide.
“Go ahead and make me cry,
I’ll be alright”

Maria was angry and upset with Matt, and she cried when he humiliated her at the birthday party and also when he “killed” Furball. Despite everything though, Maria came to Matt’s rescue and proved that she was okay as long as he was.

“’Cause this is love and life, and nothing we can control”

Finally, this lyric describes their relationship, and even though they can’t control the actions of others and the hate towards Matt coming off of pretty much everybody, they can always be friends. Despite being upset with each other (quite often) they know they can’t control it but they can control their forgiveness to each other.
If you'd like to listen to this song, click here.

Open Secrets by Rush

Click here for credit.
Chosen and Written by Joel
I lie awake with my secrets
Spinning around my head
Something that somehow escaped me
Something you shouldn't have said
I was looking out the window
I should have looked at your face instead.
This song kind of represents Maria and Matt’s feelings for each other. Maria felt like she was “looking out the window” when thinking that Matt killed Furball and was terrible, but now she “lies awake with her secrets.” This represents just after she discovered that Matt did not kill Furball. “Something that somehow escaped me, something you shouldn’t have said” could relate to when all the puzzle pieces were coming together, and she tried to figure out how she did not realize the culprit beforehand. Also, it shows that she started off running from the problem, but in the end she had to face it personally.
The things that we're concealing
Will never let us grow
Time will do its healing
You've got to let it go
The first half of this part of the song shows that Maria was concealing her true feelings for Matt, and how they would never advance in their relationship if they keep it hidden. The second half could refer to how Maria needs to let go of what she previously thought of Matt.
Closed for my protection
Open to your scorn
Between these two directions
My heart is sometimes torn
This shows how Maria is torn between being with Tom or Matt, two opposite ends of the spectrum. She has lots of feelings, and is torn between them.
You could try to understand me
I could try to understand you.
This shows Maria and Matt trying to understand each other more and be together.

Maria's Song by Joel (Joel's own composition)

Chosen and Written by Joel
To hear the song, click here.
I created this song to try to represent Maria and her moods throughout the novel. At first, she is happy to be with Matt, and then as the story progresses she is sad and emotional (which is the part where the piano begins), and is forced to leave Matt after falsely accusing him of killing Furball. Then, later, the song gets quiet and “bassey,” and this shows the part of the novel where Matt and Maria are hiding in the secret closet and she begins to forgive Matt. I attempted to recreate Maria’s mood loosely throughout the novel, Although it can be kind of difficult without lyrics to truly represent.

Click here for credit.

I Forgive You by Kelly Clarkson
Chosen by Kirsten, Written by Jami
*”No shame, no blame the damage is done..” We thought this related well to Matt because he’s already a clone and he can’t change who he is but everyone hates him for being a clone but Maria doesn’t care and she’s still friends with him anyways.
*”I forgive you...” Maria’s a very forgiving person as we have mentioned many times. Even though Tom and Matt, in particular, can be very mean to Maria she forgives them and I think Maria believes that she can change them and make those who are bad into good people. “He’s getting more like MacGregor, but I can change him.” “You can’t change Tom,” Matt said. “Patience and love can do anything,” Maria said. (Farmer 209)

Life of Pi(Movie or book) -Daniel

One notable thing about Maria is that she takes a strong passion for her religion as well as have some personal religious conflict by being with Matt, who she believes for some of the book, doesn’t have a soul. I believe that she would enjoy Life of Pi because like her, Pi also faces a lot of conflict over his faith. I think that mainly because of this, she would be able to connect to Pi. I also think that Matt would be similar to the tiger because they would both believe that the one person they care about the most doesn’t have a soul.

Thanks for reading our litspiration challenge! We hope you liked it!
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