Saturday, May 18, 2013

The House of the Scorpion: Narrative Structure

In the novel we've been studying, The House of the Scorpion, a prominent element that deserves discussion is the narrative structure. I say this because a lot of debate and discussion occurred over the way Farmer communicated her story, including the pacing and the fury-provoking ending. So! Presenting... a post on the narrative structure of The House of the Scorpion.

From the very first page on, Farmer slowly introduces an array of elements that build up, and later on, she connects back to these ideas and continues to give the reader a fuller and fuller story throughout the book. To aid in this build up, an element of mystery is visible at different parts, and I was very engaged by how the author made you form questions, then discretely revealed answers and pieces to the puzzle, meanwhile making you ask even more questions! Many of these questions, such as "How do eejits become what they are?" end up being integral parts of the plot. In my opinion, that is the perfect formatting of a narrative, as the story is then intriguing and keeps you hooked consistently, minimizing the occurrence of weak points.

However, Farmer definitely had strong points, especially when concerning the development of the narrative. Throughout the novel, important information and growth of the plot often occurs in intense chunks. In most books, this would bug me, but in The House of the Scorpion, Farmer used these large sections to provide depth and deeper understanding in interesting ways. Examples include when Tam Lin takes Matt to the oasis, when Matt gets the Opium book, when Matt finds MacGregor's clone, and when he discovers the eejit pens. These moments were sections I looked forward to, and they made me feel like I was taking a giant step toward solving the puzzle.

Matt brings a peculiar element to the flow of the narrative, as when he isn't talking, the pace is drastically changed. When he regained his voice on page 73, a large shift occurred in the speed that things were communicated to the reader, as things became a two-way conversation rather than the one-way that was going on before that. This change was both unique to the novel and very affective in twisting up the narrative structure to keep it engaging and non-repetitive.

Probably my favourite part of the narrative structure was foreshadowing. I could easily give Farmer the title for best foreshadow-er! Throughout The House of the Scorpion, she develops elements that start out as mere hints and specks, but then piece together and we come to realize that these things mean a lot more. An example is when we were casually introduced to the idea that Matt wasn't meant to exist for long: “The doctor once told Rosa that clones went to pieces when they got older. What did that mean? Did they actually fall apart (Farmer 71).” This lets us join in on Matt’s confusion and questioning, while letting us make inferences and want to read on! The ready is hooked! Foreshadowing is also present in smaller cases, such as discovering that the teacher is an eejit, etc. Like the previous elements I have discussed, foreshadowing kept me captivated and was a large reason for giving this book 5 stars!

Last but not least, I would like to fittingly give this post an abrupt ending by saying that the death of practically everyone wasn't revealed until page 375, and the book ended on page 380...

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