Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Gattaca: Discrimination between Matt and Vincent

Although Matt and Vincent are not similar in regards to their character, they live under similar social circumstances. I think the main comparison between Matt and Vincent is the idea of discrimination. Because Matt is a clone, he is considered an animal and is not up to the same standards of everyone else. Although he is given education, studies music, and is just as intelligent as everyone else, he is discriminated against because of his status as a clone. This can be compared to Vincent’s life, because even though he has the right intelligence, and he has immense passion for astronomy, he still has to pose as someone else to even get a chance at achieving his dreams. Just like Matt, due to Vincent’s status of an “invalid”.
              These two characters are very similar in the sense that they got no chance in being accepted for the things they wanted to do because of how they were born. Ironically, they are victimized for the opposite reasons –For Matt, he was born from a cow with the DNA from El Patron and grown up as a clone. For Vincent, his parents chose to have a natural birth, which resulted in Vincent’s weaknesses compared to other people such as his brother Anton. Later on throughout both stories, both characters proved themselves to be just as intelligent and capable of things as everyone else. Matt learned how to do many things thanks to characters such as Celia, Tam Lin, and Mr. Ortega. Vincent ended up finally beating his brother in their classic childhood came “chicken”, and showed throughout the movie that he was capable of as many things as anyone else – as long as he was under the disguise of Jerome.
              Some elements of the story also connect with both characters in the sense that they had to pose as different people to accomplish certain things. For Gattaca, the entire story is based on this, but there are certain moments when Matt uses a disguise to his advantage. An example of this is when Matt dresses and acts like an eejit so he can escape with Maria. One of the main issues with both of the characters is that they have to remain in disguise. Vincent had to make sure that he scraped his skin and cut his toe nails every day, as well as have a valid urine sample from Jerome so that he had had no chance of being caught. Matt had to make sure that no one saw the tattoo on his foot when he lived in the Plankton Factory, and made sure he was known under a different name.
              From Matt’s perspective, he is confused as to why everyone hates him and why being a clone makes him different from everyone else. In Vincent’s world, he knows that he is considered lower-class, but continues to strive for his dreams. 

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Blog Post #5 - Main Characters

Vincent Freeman lives his days yearning to be a valid; a living, breathing embodiment of flawlessness. Matteo Alacran is an exact replica of a young El Patron, a wealthy drug lord and dictator of Opium. One wishes to be a mesh of genetically modified perfection, whereas the other can only dream to be regular human being. Both live in completely opposite societies, but live under the crushing pressure to be somebody they cannot possibly truly be.

Gattaca and The House of the Scorpion have very similar themes, one of which is that it is possible to deny your fate, which makes me question whether or not pre-destiny or fate even exists. For example, Matt was destined to be El Patron's clone, to be used for the old man's organs and then die. Vincent was destined to live his life as an invalid, cleaning the windows and sweeping the floors at Gattaca. As you can clearly tell both Matt and Vincent's futures were changed from their own determination to survive and to live how they wanted to. Both character's actions have reflected this theme, and have pushed the question about the existance of pre-destiny. For example, Vincent's swimming competitions with his younger and genetically refined brother, Anton. Once Vincent won his first game, it seemed as though he was better than somebody who was a "valid." This simple win in a sibling rivalry game of chicken fueled the inspiration for Vincent to believe that he could be just as good, if not better than many of those who were genetically modified. Perhaps there would be a job for him inside the glass doors of Gattaca. Then there is Matt, who has been the "one possession El Patron let slip through his fingers" (Farmer 246) and has evaded death with the help of Tam Lin and Celia. Even though Matt's fate was being merely a clone ready for harvesting, he had escaped and has now taken the place of El Patron as leader of Opium.

Another theme that is in both Gattaca and The House of the Scorpion is standing against discrimination. The novel and movie portrayed this theme well by the social circumstances that were set up.  In both The House of the Scorpion and Gattaca there is somewhat of a disciminatory society. The story tellers in Gattaca use this society to help emphasize how different their world is to ours today. Using terms such as: "invalid" and "valid" in the film in order to emphasize the clear difference from the higher more supreme to the lesser and genetically inferior. In The House of the Scoprion clones are looked at as disgusting, many humans even avoid talking to clones because they are often mindless and it's almost embarrassing to associate with such a lowly group. Even though Matt has an undamaged (and even in some aspects, superior) brain many people still treat and see him as a mindless, slobbering idiot. This idea of immediate prejudice towards somebody for how they were born is incredibly evident in Rosa and Matt's relationship. "'[Matt's] a sullen, evil-tempered animal' [Rosa] said." (Farmer 43) However, as Tam Lin says, "'No one can tell the difference between a clone and a human. That's because there isn't any difference. The ida of clones being inferior is a filthy lie.'" (Farmer 245) Unlike in Gattaca, The House of the Scorpion views the genetically altered as an underclass, however the themes of discrimination still run strong between the movie and novel. Matt and Vincent both try to define "what is a human?"

Friday, 13 April 2012

Roundtable Discussion #4

Roundtable Discussion #4 from Emily Faraj on Vimeo.

In this weeks exciting instalment of "Talking Scorp With Emily and Tintin" we discuss the final section of the novel, "La Vida Neuva." Join us next week when we discuss real life scorpions, humble creatures or menaces of the desert?

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Blog Post #4: Free choice (Emily)

From the beginning of the book all the way to chapter 25, the main thing that has really intrigued me while reading is the metaphors and messages being portrayed throughout the book. The idea of the Alacran House and the society they live in being a dystopia is very fascinating, and definitely a concept that can really get your mind going about current society.
                   “No one can tell the difference between a clone and a human. That’s because there isn’t any difference. The idea of clones being inferior is a filthy lie.” (Farmer 245) This quote by Tam Lin sums up another concept being portrayed throughout the novel about what determines a human from a clone, and the idea of discrimination. This idea takes me back to watching the movie The Island and how clones are raised simply for the benefit of “humans”. In the end, I believe it all boils down to basic human rights, and how one should not be discriminated against because of something they can’t control, such as being a clone.
                   El Patron can also be considered a figurehead, and how the entire Alacran House is working for him and his benefit. Throughout the book, El Patron is known to be a very wealthy and selfish man and in a way can be considered very ruthless and inconsiderate. This is also a reflection on the character development throughout the novel, because towards the beginning of the book when you first meet El Patron, you are particularly fond of his character because of his kind personality towards Matt. Later on throughout the book, you begin to see El Patron’s self-absorbed personality unfold. 

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Blog Post #4 - Free Choice Chapters 1 - 25 (Tintin)

Since the first ten chapters The House of the Scorpion has definitely picked up the pace. Between chapters 11 - 25 many developments have happened, which created numerous unexpected plot twists and shocking revelations. Not only has the plot developed, the characters have grown as well. Take Tam Lin for example, when he was first introduced on page 63 as: "Tam Lin's ears appeared chewed, they were so misshapen. But when Matt looked into Tam Lin's eyes, he was surprised to see a glint of friendliness." (Farmer 63) I never expected the bodyguard to be a major dynamic character, with such a malevolent past. I assumed his character would stay quiet with little motive to reveal anything about himself. The character that I was most curious about was El Patron, why he felt the need to continue living after over a hundred years and the history behind his drug empire. During these past 15 chapters, I've found the answer to all of these pressing questions. Aside from the supporting characters developing throughout The House of the Scorpion, we have learnt so much about our protagonist, Matteo Alacrán. We have discovered his purpose in the Alacrán family, why he is Mi Vida to El Patron, and reason behind his estranged relationship with Maria. I am excited to read further and uncover Matt's fate in Aztlán.

The House of the Scorpion's plot had also advanced quite substantially through these past chapters. There has been much discussion of overthrowing El Patron, which would forever change Opium. Tam Lin and Maria's secret conversations about keeping Matt alive and innovating Opium "'It's not all right.' [Tam Lin] buried his head in his arms ono the table. 'We're bloody lab animals to this lot. W're only well treated until we outlive our usefulness.' 'They won't get their way forever,' Celia whispered, putting her arms around him." remind me of another novel, The Hunger Games. In The Hunger Games, Katniss is the symbol throughout the country of uprising/rebellion against President Snow; in The House of the Scorpion, I believe that Matt is somewhat of a catalyst for change. He made Tam Lin and Celia who are under the wrath of El Patron to finally say: "enough is enough, El Patron should not take any more lives, clones or eejits." Together, they had found a way to let Matt escape, being "the one possession El Patron let slip through his fingers." (Farmer 246) In addition, the idea of an eejit reminded me of an Avox; in The Hunger Games avoxes are humans who have been punished for rebelling against the Capitol, and eejits are humans who are punished for defying Farm Patrol or El Patron.


Monday, 19 March 2012

Blog Post #3: Christmas Island Tragedy (Emily)

Christmas Island Tragedy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=09DBPieeMHw

The devastating boat crash that occurred around Christmas time of 2010 is a perfect example of illegal boarder crossing. This story represents many aspects of human life, as this group of people were said to be from Iraq and Iran - notoriously war ridden countries. This shows the determination of seeking a better life and having to escape your own country to due many different things such as war and poverty. This story can represent Celia’s story, because like Celia, these people travelling on the boat were risking their lives for better living conditions. Not only were these people seeking better living conditions for themselves, but their families as well, as the majority of the people that were killed were children and infants.

During the process of crossing over to Christmas Island, the refugees were set up by a people smuggler to take a boat from Indonesia down to Christmas Island, where the asylum seekers ran into extreme conditions, with giant waves and massive rocks. This is the equivalent of Celia’s coyote, and her taking a big risk. When Celia was left by the coyote, her biggest fear was to get caught by the farm patrol before crossing, and having the entire plan ruined. For the refugees, getting caught in rough conditions in their un-seaworthy vessel was their fear, and the thing that would ruin their entire plan.
In the Chapter “Celia’s Story”, Celia gives a glimpse of her previous life in Aztlan. "As a girl, I went to work in a maquiladora- a factory-on the border. All day I sat on an assembly line and put tiny squares into tiny holes with a pair of tweezers. I thought I'd go blind!" (Farmer 141). Celia describes her struggles and how she found her life to be difficult, thus she created the plan to travel across the boarder to the Unites States. It can be inferred that she wished to have started a new life with better conditions, just as the refugees of the Christmas Island tragedy wished to be accepted into Australia to begin a new life with refugee status.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Blog Post #3 Hunted Illegal Immigrants - Tintin


Illegal immigration puts Canadians at risk when the "alien" is an on the run convict for previous crimes that they've committed. It is important to catch these dastardly villans before they attack or do any illegal activity in Canada. That's basically the idea that I get from this article, though I fully support the deportation of escaped criminals who hide in Canada or any other country for that matter. As it has been emphasized in the article, these kinds of illegal immigrants that are seeking to escape execution can put Canadian citizens in danger. Aside from the scarier convict fleeing to another country side of immigration, as depicted above; there are also people who are desperately trying to escape their countries from war, famine, or to start a new life in a country with more opportunities but don't fit the criteria for legal immigration.
In The House of the Scorpion, after learning how to cook Celia attempts to cross the border from Aztlan and the United States guided by a coyote. Her reasons to want to escape her home village were obvious, her job there at the time was undesirable to say the least, "As a girl, I went to work in a maquiladora- a factory-on the border. All day I sat on an assembly line and put tiny squares into tiny holes with a pair of tweezers. I thought I'd go blind!" (Farmer 141) Celia must have believed that she could pursue a career in the United States as a cook otherwise she wouldn't have risked her life in this way. Though it seemed as though she had nothing to lose, (she had no family or boyfriend in Aztlan after all) so she gathered all her things and left, guided by a coyote and accompanied by many others, also hopeful to reach the gleaming United States border. Perhaps the feeling of having nothing to lose was a good push for Celia to seek a coyote to get her out of Aztlan. The fact is that many illegal immigrants weren't presented with enough possibilities to live the life they wanted in their homecountry and believe they can find more elsewhere; sometimes that means getting there with a visa and sometimes people are simply denied that visa for whatever reason. Illegal immigrants can become a contributing member of society if government is willing to let them try. Though there are many illegal immigrants that I disapprove of, (i.e: criminals escaping prosecution in their homecountry) many illegal immigrants simply couldn't find another way to live pursue their dream, and perhaps sneaking under an unguarded fence was their last option.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Roundtable Discussion #3


Tintin and I discussing which character to write a playlist for. Tune in next week, folks!

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Emily - Blog Post #2

I find that Farmer’s writing when it comes to characterization is creative and profound. Characterization (so far) has interested me the most about this novel, because I find that she explores all kind of characters as well, such as foils, dynamic characters, and stock characters. An example of a foil would be between Celia and Rosa, as they are both caregivers for Matt, but Celia acts as a more motherly and caring character, and Rosa acts like Matt is the most disgusting thing in sight and is constantly scolding him. Another foil in the novel so far is between Matt and Tom. I find Matt to be a humble, curious and kind character, and Tom is basically the opposite. On page 13 there is a conversation between Celia and Matt, where Celia explains that Tom is always teasing Maria and playing tricks on her. "She at least has good manners. Her sister, Maria, is about your age and plays with Tom. Well, some might call it play. Most of the time she winds up crying her eyes out." (Farmer 13). Later on throughout the novel, while Matt is imprisoned, you see Tom’s true colours comes out when he shows up only to make fun of Matt and shoot peas at him. Although it is not as prominent, I still think that she touches on stock characters when it comes to the children. I find Tom the stereotypical little boy that’s always getting into trouble, and Maria to be a stereotypical character that is always teased by a Tom-like character. 

Tintin - Blog Post #2

So far in The House of the Scorpion Farmer's strong figurative language has kept a firm grip on my attention. I was surprised to see how much I liked the metaphors in this novel, especially because after reading another novel (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime) which had almost no figurative language whatsoever, aside from a simile here and there. Tam Lin's explanation of El Patron's twisted branches gave me a much more in-depth idea of the drug lord's sinister character. "When [El Patron] was young, he made a choice, like a tree does when it decides to grow one way or the other. He grew large and green until he shadowed over the entire forest, but most of his branches are twisted." (Farmer 70) The metaphors, similes and other forms of figurative language are used in The House of the Scorpion sparingly; which is something I appreciate as well. The purpose of figurative language is to enhance the reader's understanding of the novel in a more poetic way. They should not to coat the story with unnecessary figurative language that if anything, confuse the readers. Farmer clearly has a knack for allowing metaphors and hyperboles make an appearance now and then, this way she "times" her writing in a way. Splicing in incredibly vibrant figurative language into her writing on occasion. I mean really, who wants to read a novel filled entirely with metaphorical nonsense that only makes sense "if you get it"? Foils are used quite effectively in The House of the Scorpion, Matt's foil, Tom makes Matt's shy and behaved personality stand out even more. Farmer's figurative language is mind shattering to a girl who can't help but be too straightforward with her words, and whenever I see a nicely used metaphor or simile in literature I can't help but applaud them for their literary achievement. Typically figurative language is not exactly my cup of tea, however, when it is used well and again, sparingly they are proven to be quite effective. 

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Tintin - Blog Post #1

What are you wondering about?
  • Throughout the novel, Matt is described as a filthy, useless clone. I have already inferred that The House of the Scorpion is set in the future; therefore, with futuristic technology clones can be conceived through a cow uterus. This form of birthing even in the future is unorthodox, and by being created in a glass dish is far more than enough to set up jeers from ruthless children. Clones are often expected to be idiots (or eejits) that are thought of as not housebroken, (much like a dog, per say) dribbling messes of puke and often not even considered humans. Due to the norms of society, clones are petrified to speak with fear of being belittled and have little to none interaction with the outside world, only because they are different. This brings about the questions: “what purpose do clones serve?” and “why are people so frightened and disgusted by Matt, even though he isn’t fixed?”
  • María and Celia are thus far the only people who have shown any kindness towards Matt. Towards the end of chapter 5, the two visit Matt in his sawdust “kingdom” and bring words of salvation and hope. The question now is how will María and Celia save Matt? I can’t really see Celia, a lowly cook and caregiver defying any commands and intruding into the Alacrán Estate, however, I could certainly see María stepping up to the plate and attempting to free Matt. But will Matt even want to be saved? After Matt felt relieved once María and Celia had left, it seems as if he would never like to leave his orderly kingdom or abandon his insect empire. (Farmer 49)

Has anything struck you about this section?
  • What stood out a great deal to me was how sheltered Matt’s life was; living in a house in the middle of a poppy field with appliances barricaded, which prevented any kind of accidents from happening to Matt. Clearly his existence and safety is incredibly important, which is also proven by the frequent doctor's visits while he is imprisoned in the Alacrán Estate. Matt's survival must greatly affect someone or something in the novel. We now know that Matt is a clone of El Patron, but the reason behind his existence is still unclear. Only being exposed to human beings aside from Celia must have been nothing less of both frightening and thrilling for Matt, considering he is threatened that if he were ever to leave his house the Chupacabra would eat him alive. 
  • Rosa's strong distain towards Matt, and clones in general is unusual; I find it to be somewhat irrational and similar to that of racism. Though it shouldn't surprise me that discrimination in the novel is evident, what caught me off guard was Rosa's instantaneous hostility towards Matt, right after discovering that he was not a poor boy whose feet were bloody and covered in shards of glass, but instead a clone in that same situation. Had clones wronged her in the past? Matt hadn't done anything to Rosa, if anything at the beginning he was thankful for her being there and having a doctor remove the splinters of glass from his worn soles and disinfecting the deep, bloody gashes. He stayed quiet, but once "Property of Alacrán Estate" had been seen on Matt's foot, Rosa literally threw him out of the house. Perhaps she was worried of the consequences of having a clone belonging to somebody as powerful as El Patron with her, maybe she thought that  her superiors would have thought she had mutilated Matt's body?

Why is Farmer making the choices that she is in this first section?

  • Farmer's choice to not allow the readers to know who El Patron is yet is very deliberate, which creates a very long cliffhanger. I constantly find myself wondering what purpose does Matt serve towards El Patron, is it important enough that Rosa hasn't killed Matt over it?
  • Matt and Tom are foils to each other, completely opposite in all ways personality-wise. Tom is selfish and obnoxious, whereas Matt is compassionate and soft-spoken. Farmer made these decisions because Tom and Matt's contrasting personalities make readers highlight our protagonist, Matt's character. 

Emily - Blog Post #1

 What are you going to explore from this first section of the novel?
For this section I really want to explore Matt and his original “being”. I’m really curious about his life and his decision to have a clone, more so I’m curious about the background of cloning in the first place.

 What you wondering about? 
At the moment I am really wondering about the discrimination against clones. I could totally understand if people considered them different, or weird, or perhaps even like a different species, but I don’t understand why they would treat clones like filthy animals that don’t deserve any of the rights that everyone else does. I personally think that some of these discriminatory thoughts are based on the heavy religion that is portrayed throughout the town, and perhaps they think of clones as un-pure, not a creation of God, or maybe even unsanitary.

 Has anything struck you about this section? 
The main thing that has struck me about the first section of the book is the whole set up of the characters, particularly the original Matt. It’s interesting how he decides to have a house keeper to take care of the clone, and that he isolates them from the rest of the town and puts them in a house in the middle of a poppy field.

·      Why is Farmer making the choices that she is in this first section?
I think Farmer is making these choices because she is trying to relate to some concepts in modern times, as well as connections to history, (such as religion, mythical creatures, and kingdoms) but putting them in a more futuristic twist to express a certain message. Specifically for the first section, I think that Farmer is trying to focus on the characters and their personalities, the social circumstances of the setting, and how they cope with such things like cloning and kingdoms.