Opium and Aztlán, at some point in the future

Farmer"s novel is collection in a not-too far-off future in a world that feels simply familiar sufficient to it is in unsettling and also creepy. It"s choose our own, existing world, just turned sideways. The action occurs in places we know, yet they have various names, i m sorry throws us for a loop. It"s a little bit strange thinking of familiar places together entirely brand-new countries, with names like Opium and also Aztlán.


It"s not until later on that we find out that opium is actually the American Southwest, Arizona specifically (a point out Nancy Farmer is quite familiar with, in fact.) In the beginning of the novel, we"re simply as puzzled as Matt as soon as it comes to geography. Luckily, Matt stumbles ~ above a book, A background of Opium, that reveals some amazing information about his residence country:

The MacGregors ruled the land close to San Diego, and the Alacráns had a substantial empire extending from central California all across Arizona and into new Mexico.

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Gradually, Opium changed from a no-man"s-land to a actual country. And its can be fried leader, dictator, and also fuhrer was Matteo Alacrán. (17.22-23)

We learn, along with Matt, that Opium is a country owned by medicine lords (the MacGregors and the Alacráns discussed above) sandwiched between the united States and also Aztlán. Elsewhere, we gather the Opium is a dry, desolate place. The just plants that thrive are opium and also the expensive landscaping the surrounds El Patrón"s house. As soon as Matt looks out the window of his childhood house, the sees, "fields of white poppies extended all the means to the shadowy hills. The whiteness pains his eyes, and so he had turned from them through relief to the cool darkness inside" (2.11). That"s around it – white poppies and shadowy hills.

Aside native El Patrón"s estate, over there is one location in minus that offers Matt a nice, eco-friendly break native all that desert. Tam Lin reflects Matt a secret oasis, and from the method it"s described, we wouldn"t mind having an oasis of our own:

Creosote bushes and also paloverde trees framed a small, small valley, and also in the facility of this to be a swimming pool of water. In ~ the far end, Matt observed an enormous grapevine sprawled over a manmade trellis. In the water itself, Matt experienced shoals of small brown fish the darted far from his shadow. (8.36)

The oasis is a lush place, filled v water and trees and also signs of life, and also it"s below in this oasis that Matt to learn some tough truths around Opium and its inhabitants. It"s where he very first begins to prosper up, since here, he deserve to truly be himself. Elsewhere in dry, miserable Opium, El Patrón rules v an steel fist. However here, in his oasis, Matt can retreat beneath the sheathe of the leaves and let his mind be free.

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Anything needs to be much better than Opium, right? Wrong.

When Matt escapes Opium, he crosses the border into Aztlán, formerly known as Mexico. Aztlán, us learn, is a communist state (you can read much more about communism here). Best off the bat, we can see the it"s definitely not a please place. In fact, its bleak, industrial scenes seem come come right out a Dickens novel (like Oliver Twist). In Matt"s Aztlán, poor boys struggle to endure in what basically amounts to a prison work-related camp. Plus, as in Opium, things in Aztlán room dry, desolate, and dying:

Matt and also Chacho walked over a see even more desolate 보다 the area near the saltworks. There, if it rained, a few stunted weeds struggled to the surface. Right here there to be nothing except white spot of salt. Clam dotted the surface, proof of the life sea that had once stretched from horizon to horizon. (30.12)

Honestly, Aztlán seems a lot prefer Opium, only rather of the stole fist El Patrón, Matt must complete with the iron fist of the Keepers. Plus, we find out that Aztlán is enduring from a negative economy (we can definitely relate to that), so countless of the citizens space struggling to gain by.

But like Opium, Aztlán likewise has a place of refuge for Matt: the convent the escapes to when he to escape the Keepers. Over there he find safety, acquainted faces, and freedom native the harsh rule of the Keepers.

There is one person who likes both these areas (shocking, us know), and that"s El Patrón. He"s obsessed through his previous in Aztlán, which, once he lived there, was still known as Mexico. He wants to recreate that previous in Opium, for this reason he keeps his nation a hundred years behind the times:

"Opium, as much as possible, is the means things to be in El Patrón"s youth. Celia cooks on wood fire, the rooms aren"t air-conditioned, the fields are harvest by people, no machines." (24.47)

When Matt renders this discovery, it"s a shocking moment, for him and also for us. When Matt come in Aztlán, which has developed far beyond Opium, he"s blown away by all the technology, favor hover-cars. Suddenly, all that cloning company makes much an ext sense and also the true contrast between Opium and Aztlán is revealed.

Close come Home

There space a lot of of facets of the setup that relate straight to US background and present events. We"ve currently mentioned the links to communism, however what else is there? There are a bunch that super-hot topics associated in The residence of the Scorpion. We won"t get in these concerns in detail, but it"s crucial to store them in ~ the prior of her mind when you"re reading. We"re pretty certain Nancy Farmer was thinking around them while writing. So here"s ours list. Phone call us, what did we miss?

DictatorshipsIllegal ImmigrationReligionCloningDrug-TraffickingCommunismBullyingDiscrimination