The House of the Scorpion centers on many of the same issues and ideas that have surfaced in the science-fiction novels we have read to date. What qualifies as “human”? When, after alteration, does a human lose his humanity? The difference is between them lies in the manner of Matt’s dehumanization.
Our first sighting of Matt is simply as a “droplet of life.” However, the following chapters force us to see him in his moments of petulance and the selection and proliferation of his toys as we would any other child. Until the revulsion displayed by Mr. Alacran the reader cannot truly understand the perception of clones at the time.
Rosa completes our shift in point-of-view through systematically reducing his environment to suit their classification of Matt as a “filthy beast.” As he slowly comes to accept their bigotry as reality we see him lose the humanity we had already established in his image. The change is evident in the shame he exhibits relieving himself in front of a sleeping Maria till he becomes desensitized to his living conditions in his makeshift sty.
While in the other novels we have witnessed varying degrees of humanity only The House of the Scorpion actively has shown an individual degraded instead of built up. (Think of the monster in Frankenstein, Case in Neuromancer, and Lilith in Lilith’s Brood.)