Sunday, 12 May 2013

Film Study - Individual Post

We had a chance to watch a movie, as part of our film study portion of our novel study. The name of this film is Gattaca, and it takes place in the future. There is lots to talk about, but the main thing is the protagonists in both the movie and The House of the Scorpion. The protagonist in the book is Matteo Alacran, also refereed to as Matt. The main character in the movie is Vincent Freeman, a myopic man who has a heart defect. There is a lot in common between these two main characters, and lots that is not.

Matt is the clone of a powerful drug lord, who is known as El Patron. Although Matt is a very skilled child, both in music and in general knowledge, he is discriminated, as he is a clone. Clones are considered filthy animals as most clones have their brains destroyed at birth. But El Patron's clones are left unharmed. Like any other human, Matt had feelings and a heart. This is evident in this small passage from the book:
"I love you," Matt said.
"I love you, too," Maria replied. "I know that's a sin, and I'll probably go to hell for it."
"If I have a soul, I'll go with you," promised Matt.
(Farmer, Nancy  page unknown)
Even though Matt is second looked by many, he is also cared by Celia, Tam Lin and Maria. Matt is a very ambitious boy, who wants to make a difference and rule the opium business.

Vincent is a man who has the dream of working in Gattaca, a space agency. His goal is to go into space and uncover its mysteries. In every story there is a problem, and in this one, all the people are separated into groups based on their DNA. Vincent isn't meant to live over 30.2 years. To even work in Gattaca you need "valid" DNA, something Vincent does not have. He takes over the identity of Jerome Morrow, to fulfill his dream. As Vincent is "invalid" everyone doesn't care for his type. But once he changes his identity people are astounded by his work, including the head of the space mission he wants to attend. This just proves that being "valid" or "invalid" has nothing to do with who you are. Even though he is justified as different, he really is not. He has feelings like the "valid" and some people feel the same way about him. Here is a small passage from the movie:
Vincent: "It's funny, you work so hard, you do everything you can to get away from a place, and when you finally get your chance to leave, you find a reason to stay." (Gattaca - released on October 24, 1997)

Although Gattaca and The house of the Scorpion have nothing in common involving the plot, the protagonists are very much alike. They both want to fulfill their dreams even if it mean they have to change their identity, or destroy a business. People care for them, and in return they care back. As both these stories take place in the future, life is a lot different than it is today. People think differently and act differently. I must say both Vincent and Matt are amazing characters, which you don't see in many books.


Friday, 10 May 2013

Narrative Structure - Individual Post

Hi! Today I have the awesome opportunity to talk about the narrative structure in The House of the Scorpion! Enjoy!   
    The exposition, the rising action, the climax, the falling action and the resolution are all parts of a narrative structure. We see all of these in The House of the Scorpion. Although some of them are really small and ineffective they are all there. 
    The exposition was actually really interesting. You got to understand who Matt was, by understanding how he lives and what people think of him. Of course not all your questions about Matt were answered in the first few chapters, but that’s what made it so interesting! I kept reading just to understand who he really was, and in the end I understand. Although not many drastic things happened in the starting of the book, the tension did build further on into the rising action.
    I must say the rising action was full of ups and downs. There seemed to be a surprise in every new chapter! This book was really hard to put the book down, as there seemed to be an “AHA!” moment in every page! The rising action was definitely portrayed very nicely, but the climax was a disappointment, as all there was, was he met Maria and Ezperenza and goes to Opium, only to find everyone dead. I really expected lots more, but because everyone died, the story just ended. There was no conflict between the Alacrans and Matt; something I was really looking forward to. The poor climax also influenced the falling action in a negative way. The story seemed to end abruptly, as the author had nothing else to talk about. Everyone who was against Matt died, and then he took over. Too many loose ends were left with no one to tie them. How did Matt destroy the opium business? Was a he a good ruler? So many questions, but not enough answers! The resolution, to me, was really short, but not sweet. Matt only thinks about what he wants to do (bring Maria and Esperenza to Opium, and destroy the business, as well as free the eejits) but none of it, as far as we know ever happened, unless it is mentioned in the second book coming out this fall. 

Hopefully the second book titled The Lord of Opium will answer all my questions!


Thursday, 9 May 2013

Theme - Individual Post

     "Understanding your identity that is both developed and accepted through the choices of yourself and others"

     This is the theme that my group came up with, and I am also going to use this theme for my post, as I find it is a very good one :)

     What this theme is saying is life isn't about only others accepting you, but taking on the challenge that your choices will affect your identity. But other's actions and thoughts also affect your identity. The book revolves around this theme as Matt was always refereed to as an "animal" or a "thing". Before Matt came to the Big House, none of this mattered, as no one was there to judge him. But as he understood how people viewed him, a filthy clone, he viewed himself the same way. But the book is about Matt understanding that other's thought and choices don't affect who he is inside. Just because he is a clone, doesn't mean he is different. And the book ends at how Matt is mature enough to follow who he is, not what others think he is. Your identity only gets discovered when other’s choices develop it.
      Matt is no different than other kids his age. He is a musician, and is very knowledgeable about the Opium business, and he also has Tam Lin, Celia, and Maria to care for him. Who he is inside, is what Matt needs to discover, and slowly that happens.


Characterization - Individual Post

     The characters in The House of the Scorpion, to me, were very interesting. Although there were some stock characters, many of them are very original. It is obvious that Matt is the Protagonist in this book, and I feel that identity as a clone is the antagonist. He needs to understand that being a clone isn't a bad thing, and in the end of the book that is exactly what happens.
      Two really interesting characters in this book were Tom and Tam Lin. Although they seem different, they are very much alike. Both are very two faced. Tom seems nice from the outside, but inside he is pretty evil. To me, Tam Lin is a complicated character. Although he looks scary and big from the outside, he has a glimpse of kindness that Matt automatically sees. But, Tam Lin’s past was very dark. So you could say both characters have very suspicious sides, which you can’t see by just looking at them.
     After analyzing many of the characters, I realized that Tom is a foil of Matt. They both have the same dream and ambition of taking over the Opium business from El Patron. Whenever Matt is in trouble, Tom tends to shine. And this is the same when Tom is in trouble. Although they don't like each other, they are very much alike.


Real World Connections - Individual Post

Although this book was fictional, there are some things you can connect this book to in our world today. There was talk about coyotes in the book, and how they “helped” people cross borders to the USA. A coyote helped Celia, and she had to pay him to get him across the border. “Those people don’t help you go anywhere. They lead you straight to the farm patrol”(Farmer, 142) This is a passage that Celia said about the coyotes. The coyotes tricked her and abandoned her and the group where the farm patrol could easily find them. It’s unfair, and it not only happens in the book, it happens in real life as well. A Coyotaje is a Mexican-Spanish term, and it refers to the practice of people smuggling across the US – Mexican border. Many die from the journey, as along Mexico and the US borders, hundreds of deaths occur a year If you think about it, that is a lot! This happens as many of those people are attempting to cross into US from Mexico illegally. Many coyotajes tend to trick the people, and take their money. Lots of crimes can happen in real life, and some of which we see in this book.

Another major thing we see in this book is child labor. The children in the plankton factory worked so hard, but got only little in return. This sort of unfairness occurs today. Many kids are forced to do labor, just so they can support their family. Labor slowly turns into abuse, which we also encountered in The House of the Scorpion. Although this isn’t fair, this is life.  Around 150 million children aged 5-14 in developing countries are involved in child labor. This occurs all around the world, but living in a first world country we barely see it. We need to understand that there are ways we can help these children, by getting involved in many charities. Farmer did amazing job tying this story to real life, and it really opened my eyes.
Although life may not seem difficult, many people struggle from cheating, labor and abuse everyday, and reading this story brought a new meaning to life. It may sound cheesy, but it is true J