What are some important events in The House of the Scorpion to include when writing a summary of the book?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Know What to Include by Knowing What a Summary Is

A summary is a short, originally worded expression of the main idea or idea and the relevant details of a textual work, be it article, short story, novel, or non-fiction work. Read with the classic questions in mind: Who did something? What did they do and to whom? Where did they do it? When did they do it? How did they do it? Why or for what reason or motive did they do it?

In reading the original, the first clues to the answers to these questions are stated in the opening sentences, paragraphs or pages (depending on the length of the work) of the text to be summarized. Make careful notation (notes, annotations, or underlining) of these elements when you encounter them. There may often be a thesis stated or implied that will help you understand the meaning of the work and guide you in composing your summary.

Summaries do identify the author, title, type of work (article, novel, etc) and central point. Summaries do paraphrase rather than quote the text being summarized (if you need to quote something that cannot be paraphrased, use quotation marks around it).

Summaries do not comment on, critique, or interpret the summarized text; no personal commentary is used in a summary, which only clearly, briefly restates the information in the summarized text.

A summary does briefly retell, in original language (your own words) the major elements of a work of fiction: characters, setting, theme, introductory action, rising action, climax, falling action and resolution in the ending. A summary includes major points but omits minor details.

Major Elements and Events to Include in a The House of the Scorpion Summary


  • some vague future time
  • a new-made land between Aztlan (Mexico) and the United States called Opium or Dreamland
  • eejits, people implanted with mentally debilitating microchips, provide the labor force for Dreamland


Matteo Alacran
ninth normal clone
raised separately because of hatred of clones
destined to be harvested for a heart for the original

El Patron Alacran
drug overlord controlling Opium, or Dreamland
greedy for wealth, power and longevity
He is 143 years of age
has a herd of clones begun in petri dishes but gestated in cows' wombs and surgically mentally incapacitated for organ harvesting
gives Matteo a normal upbringing (until needed for harvesting) to compensate for his own lost childhood

Celia and Tam Lin
Matteo's nanny and body guard
they love and protect him and help him to escape

Some Major Events:

Matteo, content in his hut in the field, chances to see El Patron Alacran's children playing near his hut because they have discovered it and are curious.

Matteo jumps out through a window to interact with real children. He gets cut on the glass and is taken to the Alacran house to be attended to.

The household staff come to realize Matteo is a normal clone and both ostracize him in hatred and treat him like a prisoner.

El Patron discovers what is transpiring and gives Matteo a role of privilege both to ease his own sad memories of hardship and to give Matteo's heart a chance to develop normally and healthily.

Protected by Celia and Tom Lin, a Scottish man, Matteo meets and is befriended by Maria, a girl whose father, a U.S. Senator, is in the service of El Patron.

El Patron suffers a heart attack. It is time for Matteo to be harvested. Celia and Tom Lin send him on an escape to the south, to Aztlan (Mexico).

El Patron dies because his heart has escaped with Matteo.

He is saved by the Keepers who put him to work along with other escapees and orphans in a factory that is a front for trade in opium laudanum.  

He and three orphan-worker friends, Fidelito, Chacho, and Tom-Tom, escape to where Maria is and meet Maria's mother who is an activist who has been trying to stop the drug lords for years.

Matteo becomes the witness who has been needed and the drug trade is broken up. Matteo is sent back back to Dreamland to break up El Patron's drug and clone kingdom.

fisihaha16 | Student

why el patron trying to kill matt

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The House of the Scorpion

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