Monday, May 13, 2013

The House of the Scorpion: Connections to Real World Issues

Although it may at first appear as a futuristic, dystopian, mere piece of fiction, The House of the Scorpion is abundant in deep connections to our world today, and many flaws that are occurring even in the present. Many of these are glorified in The House of the Scorpion, and in this post, I'll be connecting elements of the book to a real world issue!

Searching below the surface of the setting, deep corruption can be found. A substantial element of this corruption in The House of the Scorpion relates to the Aztlan/USA border, which turned into Opium. Illegal immigration is the main subject at hand, as that was what was occurring: people were trying to illegally cross from Aztlan (formerly Mexico) to the USA, and the other way too. Similar is an issue faced today: the Mexico/USA border. Many people from the south wish for a better life, and attempt to cross over into the USA illegally.

In both cases, the task is risky and the morals behind it are quite fragile. A quote that strongly sums up motives and mentality behind the present day situation is "When a relatively poor country whose jobs pay little shares a long border with a rich one whose jobs pay much better, many of those in Country A will migrate to Country B -- even if it means they must pay large fees to criminal smugglers, risk death in crossing, do dirty and unpleasant work and endure the constant danger of being arrested and evicted (Chapman).". After thoroughly analyzing that statement, it can be connected back to The House of the Scorpion. Both the present day and the novel contain the same reality: these people are willing to do anything, including hiring smugglers/coyotes ("A man who takes people over the border. You pay him and he helps you (Farmer 142).") and risking the not-so-rare penalties associated with both crossing over and attempting to make a life in the new country.

Taking a look at the other side of the story, similarities can also be found in those who penalize and persecute the illegal immigrants. In the story, El Patron goes all out to find the darkest criminals to form the Farm Patrol, and he will stop at nothing to maintain control over Opium. In today's world, the USA government puts tremendous effort into trying to minimize the illegal immigration. According to one source, the government spends 10 times more on controlling the border than it did in 1993 (Chapman)! However, a major difference is that the USA brings ethics into the picture, whereas El Patron had ruthless standards and practices.

The physical similarities and differences are clear, but the real connections are deeper. To see this, you have to look at the people, and who they are before and after their actions. In The House of the Scorpion, those trying to cross the border illegally end up eejits. They completely lose their true self and become just a shell of a body, like we hear about Rosa “Now she was merely a shadow with the life sucked out of her (Farmer 147).”. In the case of today’s illegal immigrants, mainly those who attempt to come over to the USA from Mexico, they are either sent back or otherwise persecuted, or subject to an undocumented life where they are not accepted for their true identity.

Is being without a true identity really that much better than completely losing who you are? Or is it all the same in the end? Not accepted for who you are, misunderstood, unjustly treated, labeled as someone else. In the future or in the present, it seems the fate of these people is the same.

Main source:

(Note: background info and knowledge was received from various other articles and webpages. The one above was the provider of the specific facts and statistics I used.)

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