Genetic Engineering Topics - The House of the Scorpion Handout


Dec 11, 2012 (5 years and 5 months ago)


The House of the Scorpion

By Nancy Farmer

“Matteo Alacran was not born; he was harvested. His DNA came from El Patron, lord of
a country called Opium

a strip of poppy fields lying between the United States and
what was once called Mexico. Matt's first

cell split and divided inside a petri dish. Then
he was placed in the womb of a cow, where he continued the miraculous journey from
embryo to fetus to baby. He is a boy now, but most consider him a monster

except for
El Patron. El Patron loves Matt as h
e loves hi
mself, because Matt is himself.

As Matt struggles to understand his existence, he is threatened by a sinister cast of
characters, including El Patron's power
hungry family, and he is surrounded by a
dangerous army of bodyguards. Escape is the on
ly chance Matt has to survive. But escape
from the Alacran Estate is no guarantee of freedom, because Matt is marked by his
difference in ways he doesn't even suspect.”


Story Description (Back of the Book)



The Alacran Family:

: T
he main protagonist and clone of El Patron

El Patron:

Powerful Drug lord of Opium and original Matteo Alacran

Mr. Alacran:

Great Grandson of El Patron


Wife of Mr. Alacran

El Viejo:

Father of Mr. Alacran

Second son of Mr. Alacran


Oldest son of Mr. Alacran


Son of Felicia and Mr. MacGregor

Other Important characters:

Raised Matt, mother figure to him


daughter of Senator Mendoza and friend of Matt

Eldest daughter of Senator Mendoza

: US senator and father of Emilia and Maria

Tam Lin:

One of the Bodyguards of El Patron, befriends Matt

Daft Donald:

Other main bodyguard of El Patron

Drug lord and friend of El Patron

“Matt thought he could make María understand if

he ever got to see her. She’d forgive
him because he was a dumb animal and didn’t know any better. But Tam Lin had called
Matt a human and expected much more from him. Humans, Matt realized, were a lot
harder to forgive.”

Pg 138

The above quote truly ca
ptures the different feelings people have about clones, some
view them as animals while others view them as other humans.

Below is a brief overview of modern Genetic Engineering in humans:

Human Genetic Engineering

“Human genetic engineering can be used t
o treat

genetic disease, but there is a difference
between treating the disease in an individual and changing the genome that gets passed
down to that person's descendants (germ
line genetic engineering).

Human genetic engineering is already being used on
a small scale to allow infertile
women with genetic defects in their


to have children. Healthy human eggs
from a second mother are used. The child produced this way has genetic information
from two mothers and one father.

The changes made are
germ line changes and will
probably be passed down from generation to generation, and, thus, are a permanent
change to the human genome.

Human genetic engineering has the potential to change human beings' appearance,
adaptability, intelligence, character,

. It may potentially be used in creating
more dramatic changes in humans.

There are many unresolved ethical issues and
concerns surrounding this technology, and it remains a controversial topic.”