The House of the Scorpion

The House of the Scorpion Chapter 4 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
All alone outside, Matt looks up at the starry night sky. He prays for Celia to come get him. He realizes Steven, Emilia, and María are watching him. Steven explains to Emilia that Matt, whom he addresses now as “it,” is a clone. Emilia wonders why Matt’s brain isn’t destroyed like other clones. Steven explains that El Patrón wants Matt to grow up like a normal human, even though clones aren’t people.
By calling Matt “it,” instead of “he” as he did before, Steven shows that, now that he knows Matt is a clone, he will use language which dehumanizes him. Steven also explicitly states Matt’s legal and social standing in society when he says clones are not considered people.
Themes
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Related Quotes
María asks what a clone is, and Emilia answers, “a bad animal.” Mr. Alacrán and the doctor come outside. The doctor scolds Mr. Alacrán for abandoning Matt out on the lawn. They order Rosa to take Matt to the servant’s quarters and order Steven, Emilia, and María to go wash themselves and stay away from Matt.
Emilia’s dehumanization of Matt as an animal contrasts with her initial friendliness and curiosity toward him as a peer. Mr. Alacrán shows the intensity of his discrimination against clones by ordering the children to wash after touching Matt, as he believes clones are inherently dirty. Through both of these reactions toward Matt, is clear that clones like himself are considered to be a subhuman underclass in their society.
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The doctor orders Rosa to hold Matt down, despite Rosa’s protests about having to touch a clone. Matt feels suffocated as the doctor removes the rest of the glass. When the doctor is done, Mr. Alacrán suggests they take Matt back to Celia’s house. The doctor says they can’t now that the children have seen Matt. Instead, they lock Matt in the servant’s room. Rosa gives him a bucket and newspapers and tells him Celia isn’t allowed to see him anymore.
Rosa saw nothing wrong with touching Matt until she finds out he is a clone, showing that the difference between humans and clones is more of a social label than an inherent quality one would instinctively recognize. Rosa giving Matt a bucket and newspapers, instead of access to a bathroom, further shows how she now views him as less than human.
Themes
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Terrified of going to bed without Celia, Matt cries. Then he remembers that The Virgin is watching over him and feels comforted enough to sleep. He wakes up when María enters the room. She feeds him dinner by hand, as long as he promises not to bite her, and they sit and talk about movies and stories of monsters. Matt is dizzyingly grateful to receive so much attention from María. He tells her about the chupacabra, a monster who sucks blood from goats.
María demonstrates her characteristic compassion when, even though all the other characters reject Matt, she brings Matt dinner and spends time with him. Matt’s disorientating level of happiness at her attention shows how he is still desperate to belong among his peers and to receive the approval of others, despite their mistreatment of him.
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Matt likes María more than any of the other people of the Big House because she is little like him, and doesn’t insult him like the others. He doesn’t know what a clone is, but he can tell from the way others talk that a clone is a bad thing. He hopes María doesn’t also turn against him for being a clone. He enjoys telling her stories that capture her attention. He tells her about La Llorona, a dead woman who wanders the Earth looking for her children, whom she murdered herself. María becomes scared and starts crying. She is too scared to leave the room, so she snuggles up to Matt in the bed.
Matt’s fear of negative attitudes about clones, beliefs he doesn’t even understand, shows the harm by caused other character’s discrimination. María, being innocent and pure of heart, does not hold these beliefs and clearly does not fear touching Matt like the other characters do. The myth of La Llorona, a mother separated from her children, references Matt’s own separation from the safe, motherly figure of Celia.
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Matt lies awake and wonders about all he has seen and heard that day. He wonders why the others called him an animal and why he has writing on his foot. He used to think that everyone had a tattoo like him, but now he knows that’s not the case. María begins to have a nightmare and calls out for her mother.
Though isolation caused loneliness, it also prevented Matt from being aware of his difference from his peers. María’s nightmares suggest she, like Matt, has experienced loss and suffering.
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María thrashes in her sleep. Matt gets up to pee in the bucket, but María rolls over and, startled, he tips the bucket over. Rosa comes running in. She scolds María and sends her out. Rosa then insults Matt for peeing on the floor like an animal.
Rosa expects Matt to act like an animal, and therefore assumes he is not potty-trained, showing how her discrimination against clones is self-confirming.
Themes
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Language, Law, and Dehumanization Theme Icon