Jimmy and His Mother

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There’s an interesting relationship between Jimmy and his Mother, and I feel like this relationship greatly shapes Jimmy’s relationship with women.

The Psychodynamic school of thought is heavily focused on a person’s youth.  To easily sum it up, what happens when you’re little matters.  If a parent mistreats you or something else of that nature happens there is a good chance you’ll carry that in your unconscious mind for most of your life.

We see this kind of mentality occur with Jimmy.  His mother never treated him how he should have been as a child, and then one day leaves.  The actual reason she left doesn’t really matter here; the fact is that a young Jimmy made a faulty connection between his mother leaving and her not liking him, as many children in similar situations do.

I feel that Jimmy kept this feeling for the remainder of his life pre-apocalypse.  He flitted from woman to woman, completely content with the idea of them coming and going because he assumed all women would do that.  Whenever Oryx would leave he worried that she’d never come back, reminiscent of his mother.  Lastly, he didn’t seem to mind too much when women left or tossed him aside, as though he prepared for it.

Is there any other major clues that correlate with the loss of his mother at a young age?

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Crakes Crazy Self Pg. 307-336

Crake

You start to see Crake’s character change significantly in this excerpt of the book.

As Jimmy says, he think that Crake seems to be in love, and after knowing him all his life he had previously thought that Crake didn’t believe in love. After speaking with Oryx, she also says that Crake is making the Crakers and the Blyss Plus Pill for a good cause, but Crake had never really cared much about the world and “doing things for the good” beforehand. According to Jimmy, Crake also never got drunk, but on the night that everything went to hell, he was seen drunk on the video chat. This new Crake seems kind of crazy and on edge, ready to burst. All of his ideas and the things that he is saying seem someone delusional or insane.

I wonder if anyone had known about what Crake was planning, and if they had tried to stop them. Did he kill them or detain them if so?

I also am wondering why Crake ends up killing Oryx. Was it because she knew where the cure was and was threatening to expose it? Was it because he was angry at them after finding out about their affair and was jealous? Was it because he was so in love with her he wanted to leave the world with her, and be with her in some kind of afterlife? Because beforehand, he hadn’t seemed to believe in any of that. Or maybe he didn’t want Oryx and Jimmy to be able to live happily ever after in the world he had created. How much about what was going on did she know? It did not really specify this in the reading. Or perhaps it was because he really did just go insane with how brilliant he was, because usually the smartest people are those who have the most mental issues.

It was strange how Crake ends up killing Oryx. How he grinned, why would he act so happy, or was it that he was just hopeless? I wonder if he knocked her out with meds so that she wouldn’t have to be awake for her death.

 

  1. What made Crake change his mind about the hope for humanity?
  2. Where do we think Crake met Oryx?

The Crackers Pg. 154-206

crakersA lot more is explained about how the crackers live and how Crake modified them in this excerpt. Although this kind seems a lot like the human kind, they still also seem far from it.

The way that Crake picks out traits for this Crakers is very peculiar and I feel like not something a normal person would think about. He seemed to want to make another species like humans, yet he took away so many aspects that are considered to be human nature. He takes traits from other animals and gives them to the Crakers, which I doubt could actually be done in real life, or could it? Some examples of this is using their pee to mark their territory, purring to heal, and non-love and lust related mating.

When Crake makes the Crakers he tries to take out the ideology factor imbedded in humans, but it seems as though he was unsuccessful in that because through Snowman’s unintentional guidance, they begin to basically see Crake and Oryx as gods.

This section kind of makes me want to research what scientists are doing in the area of human modifications. I know that they are working on letting parents choose what their babies look like and what gender they want, but is that as far as the science goes or is there more?

 

  1. Why did Crake decide to make another type of humans? Why not make a whole different new intelligent species.
  2. Why do you think Crake only gave the Crackers 30 years to live?

The End

I must say, I found this to be a fantastic read.  Within the first fifty pages I was completely invested, salivating for the next bit.  Feels good to have caught up right on schedule.  Yet, as with all good books, it ended.  It’s been a long time since I’ve been hit with that longing sensation for more, and that may have been amplified by the open-ended conclusion, with us left on the edge of Snowman going to make contact with other humans.

I’m sure most readers get caught with that frustration of craving more to read.  If it’s a world someone likes, you don’t want it to come to a close.  So, of course, it’s our very nature to want more and ultimately sustain this world.

So, the question I pose today is do you like the end being left more ambiguous and open to debate?  If not, what exactly is being sacrificed in the piece for extension of this universe?

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We’ve reached the end of the book. We have all of our puzzle pieces, Jimmy has returned to the Crakers in bad condition, but alive. He tells them of his journey and they do their best to take care of him. It’s strange that the Crakers trust Jimmy so much, yet he is already concocting lies to tell them before he even reaches their spot on the beach. It reminds me of a parent explaining the logistics of Santa Claus whilst dancing around the truth.

Not long after Jimmy returns, the Crakers inform him that actual real human people, like him, passed through. Jimmy, of course, is extremely excited about the prospect. He’s already had hints that he isn’t alone in the world, but now here is proof. At that moment he decides that he will follow them and meet up with them. I may be too sentimental, but I actually became very sad when Jimmy left the Crakers, knowing it would probably be forever. The Crakers seemed to care so much for Jimmy, and no matter what he told us, it seemed obvious that he at least cared for them a little. The way he plans his leave, and the way he behaves when he sees the people is entirely without fear. It’s not appalling or surprising that he isn’t afraid to die but it is surreal to see in him.

I feel so utterly unfulfilled not knowing what happened when Jimmy approached the people, but I hope so much that they let him enter their little group and he finally got a sense of camaraderie and family. I hope these people will not abandon him.

How do you think Jimmy’s interaction with the people went?
Do you think the Crackers will be able to take care of themselves and thrive without Jimmy?

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We finally get most of our answers in this section. Jimmy has lost the love of his life and his best friend all in the span of about 30 seconds. In those seconds, he also gets the burden of taking care of a whole new species of people put on his shoulders. This explains so much about him, his behavior, his mental processes and the fact that he still hears Oryx’s voice in his head. It isn’t something that anyone would be able to deal with, even if Crake and Oryx had died naturally. The fact is, he had to watch Oryx be murdered in front of him and then murdered his best friend gives us so much more insight. Though he is so angry at Crake for taking the love of his life away from him, I imagine him murdering Crake added to the guilt he already felt about contributing to the outbreak. He’s got so much responsibility now, to care for an entire group of people who have no one else to rely on. We know that he will manage it, but at the same time, he didn’t ask for this burden.

How do you think Jimmy will get the Crakers from point A to point B, and at what point do you think he will begin to interact with them?

Do you think you could deal with all the guilt, responsibility and grief all at once?

Oryx and Crake 307-336

“I’m counting on you,” he said. Then he slit her throat.

Jimmy shot him.

 

We have finally gotten the answers to the questions I have had all along, and it all seemed to come in one short burst. We finally found out how Oryx came into the boys’ lives: Crake met her through Student Services in post grad, and he asked her to come work for him, which is how Jimmy came to meet her. We finally found out what happened to all of the people who died: a terrible plague caused by Crake’s BlyssPluss pills that causes you to bleed from the skin and eyes. And if that was not enough proof that Crake is a lunatic, we also finally found out what happened to him and Oryx: he slit Oryx’s throat in front of Jimmy, who then shot him.

After learning that last bit of information, we switch abruptly back to present day, where Snowman is hobbling around on his injured foot. He gets to the Paradice compound, and actually passes through the room where the remnants of Oryx and Crake lie. This is extremely creepy, but I appreciate the parallel that Snowman is in the same location we left Jimmy in at the end of the last flashback. Things feel like they are coming together a little bit (in a dark and unfortunate way).

I don’t know why, but up until this point, I didn’t really think that Oryx and Crake were dead. I thought maybe they were off in some faraway place together living normally, that Crake had made plans for them and left Jimmy out of it. That explained Snowman’s anger. But no, we find out that the reality is actually much, much worse.

  1. Why do you think Crake killed Oryx?
  2. Do you think the end of this novel will be satisfying? (I personally am beginning to feel like it may not be.)

Snowman’s Bitterness

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I’m counting on you.

Let’s take a moment to soak in what we just read. This novel turned out to be even more depressing than I previously thought it was. Just when I thought his life could not get any worse, something worse happens.

Okay. Is everyone good, now? Let’s get down to business.

Crake murdered Oryx. Jimmy had sealed himself and the Crakes off from the rest of the world, when Crake came knocking in an attempt to get in. Jimmy refused at first, very unsure of what to do. Clearly Jimmy was very stressed out, which made it very understandable why he was unable to think clearly. It also did not help that Crake was being very evasive and vague with the answers to Jimmy’s questions.

Eventually, Jimmy opened the doors only to find Crake holding Oryx in one arm, and a blade from the kitchen in the other. Before Jimmy could comprehend what was happening, Crake says, “I’m counting on you,” and slits Oryx’s throat with the blade.

Then Jimmy shot Crake.

This was a very intense scene, with a ton of information in it. This scene explains why Snowman is so bitter, so indifferent, cold, and sometimes even hateful. His best friend killed the love of his life, and as a reflex he shot and killed his best friend. Snowman never stopped loving Oryx and Crake. He continued to admire and adore them even after their deaths, hence Crake the god. But, in reality, Oryx and Crake were just two more humans, capable of making human mistakes. Mistakes that were bad enough to get themselves killed, along with many others.

Here are my questions for you:

  1. What interpretations can be made from Crake’s last words: I’m counting on you?
  2. Why do you think the author waited until the end of the book to explain to readers what had happened prior to Snowman and the Crakes? Why tell the story in the way that the author did? Do you think the author had a reason for writing it this way? Given the choice would you have the book written the way it is now, or written with an explanation of what had happened with Oryx and Crake earlier in the novel?

Alex the Parrot, Jimmy , and Snowman

Alex the parrot comes to him in a dream. It flies in through the window, lands close to him on the pillow, bright green this time with purple wings and a yellow break, glowing like a beacon, and Snowman is suffused with happiness and love. It cocks its head, looks at him first with one eye, then the other. “The blue triangle,” it says. Then it begins to flush, to turn red, beginning with the eye. This change is frightening, as if it’s a parrot-shaped light bulb filling up with blood. “I’m going away now,” it says.

“No wait,” Snowman calls, or wants to call. His mouth won’t move. “Don’t go yet! Tell me…”

Then there’s a rush of wind, whuff, and Alex is gone, and Snowman is sitting up in his former bed, in the dark, drenched in sweat.

– Atwood 336

These planned departures made him uneasy: they reminded him of Alex the parrot saying I’m going away now. There was too fine a line between Alex the parrot and the assisted suicides and his mother and the note she’d left for him. all three gave notice of their intentions; then all vanished.

– Atwood 84

At the end of this section, Alex the Parrot made an appearance in Snowman’s dream. It was very similar to the other weird visions/dreams that Jimmy/Snowman has. I also remembered that Alex the Parrot was constantly remembered and remarked on by Jimmy/ Snowman throughout his whole life/the whole book. I decided to look back and see what meaning Alex could hold.

First, I was trying to find some fan art done of Alex the parrot to use as my featured image. I didn’t find any, but what I did find was that Alex the parrot was real. He was a parrot that was the center of a study on researching the theory that other animals are capable of having similar cognitive abilities as humans. It is argued by many scientists that a large primate brain is needed to think complexly and solve complex problems. The studies and results with Alex the parrot can be argued to refute that theory. The studies showed that Alex the parrot was as intelligent as a 5 year old toddler. This study and the theories this study discussed are very relevant to Oryx and Crake. Look at the pigoons and wolvogs, for example. We’ve learned that the wolvogs know how to “capture” prey/people. They charm you with their typical dog looks and then attack. This could just be natural instinct, the same way the parrot mimics, or it could be something with deeper thoughts- like the parrot understanding and responding. In the previous section we read, the pigoons attacked with the “cunning” looks. It gave them more mental props. It made them less animal and more human. Which is what I believe the study was all about. Are “homo sapiens” the only ones with these skills and mental cognition?

Second, like i’ve mentioned before, Alex the parrot was brought up throughout the whole novel. His memory took part in a lot of Jimmy’s experiences and he used Alex as a way to explain certain happenings in his life. This second point is less about the study and more about what is it that makes Jimmy/Snowman connect/obsess over Jimmy the parrot. I don’t fully understand the depths of this relationship, but there are a few things I have gathered. In the book itself, Jimmy/Snowman mentions something about planned departures (the quote featured above). He mentions the departure of his mother and the note, the assisted suicides, and Alex saying “I’m going now”. The dream about Alex on page 336 came after he remembered the end of Crake and Oryx’s lives. He mentioned that there were a lot of indications of what Crake was planning. Crake also entered the dome and basically told Jimmy what he was going to do right before killing Oryx. It was a notice of his intentions. Then Crake and Oryx “vanished”. I also found similarities between Alex and Jimmy/Snowman. They both were praised for their words, they both were “bored” of their surroundings (Alex would leave and not answer when prompted and Jimmy did not like to stay in one place all the time and thought everyone was below him). They both made up words, i.e cork-nut and the words that Jimmy made up for the products he advertised. Jimmy felt a strong connection with Alex. There was also a part in the book where Alex was not given “cork-nuts” (almonds) even after he did what he was told and even though that was one of the only things he wanted. This brought Jimmy to tears. This seems similar to Jimmy’s life. He wanted to have things that he could never have, a smarter self, interest in science, Oryx. I’m sure there is much more to Alex and Jimmy but I was only able to think this up.

Questions

How vast do you think some animals’ mental capacity is compared to humans. How well do you think that study relates to the book.

What did you find in the relationship between Alex and Jimmy. Do you have any other theories?

In the first quote above,  it is the first time Alex answers the question, “Blue triangle.” He always leave or ignore the question before, but this time in Jimmy’s dream, he answered the question. What significance do you think this has?

What do you make of the whole dream interaction with Alex?

Where did everyone go?

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Oh, how to lament? He’s a failure even at that.

As Snowman arrives into the bubble dome, he’s thinking back upon his time spent in the dome with Oryx and the eventual downfall of human civilization, brought upon by Crake’s immortality pill product.

When Oryx leaves to get pizza before the outbreak, Jimmy has a feeling of worry and anxiety rush across him as he realizes she might not be coming back, and in his waiting he is called to Paradice’s control room and gets briefed on the occurring, quickly worsening epidemic spreading across the globe. Recently named the dome’s #2, Jimmy is in charge in these moments, and sets in motion a plan that essentially seals the fate of everyone except himself and the Crakers.

In this section, the outcome of Paradice as it falls isn’t yet (hopefully yet) explained, sans the scene where Crake emerges from the airlock, covered in blood, carrying a supposedly sleeping Oryx, and kills her. Jimmy provides no explanation for Oryx’s condition, and says only that he shoots Crake immediately after, with little made of his thoughts in that moment. All we know is that he sends the guards away, under the guise of their own safety, knowing they will be unable to survive, and makes sure the Crakers are safe and sound asleep in their habitat.

  1. What happened to Oryx and Crake outside when the outbreak occurred?
  2. Is Jimmy alone in Paradice (sans the Crakers) immediately after he kills Crake?

Alone

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It is clear that throughout Jimmy’s entire life, he is basically alone. We see him at a very young age, not being properly taken care of by his busy working parents. He is emotionally neglected and his best friend is his pet, Killer. He doesn’t have close friends at school, is always the “funny” kid, but never becomes close with anyone. Once Jimmy’s mother leaves and takes Killer with her, he is even more alone. He doesn’t deal with either loss well, claims to be more upset about losing Killer, but that indicates a greater problem with the way he deals with the loss of his mother.

A bit later in life, Jimmy meets Crake. They become best friends, but there’s always a slight bit of separation between them due to Crake’s intellect and Jimmy’s low self esteem. It seems that he is the one holding himself at a bit of an arms length, but nonetheless, when he isn’t with Crake, he is rather alone. He spends the rest of his school career in the same position, until he and Crake ultimately separate to go to different colleges. They keep in touch lightly, but it seems that Jimmy has, indeed, all but lost another close connection in his life.

Once Jimmy is in college and moving into the adult world, he begins to have a string of short term girlfriends and flings, mostly using them for sex, and they him. He moves in with Amanda Payne, but even that is for a short time, the relationship not staying afloat for long. After he is shown the death of his mother, he becomes depressed and a hermit, only letting people into his life for sex. He is at a standstill.

Even Snowman is more or less alone, keeping himself quiet and distant from the Crakers as much as possible, though one may not be able to blame him. I’m not sure how many would be able to warm up to such alien creatures who live as humans but are so much more and so much less. This is a nod to Jimmy’s strength that he is able to live his life like this, but he shouldn’t have to. It makes one wonder if he’d had parents who built a solid relationship with him and treated him the way parents should treat their children, if he wouldn’t have ended up on the path he was on; either leaving or being left.

Do you think Jimmy’s parents treatment toward him shaped his relationship with people for the rest of his life?

Jimmy’s depression and Snowman’s Survival

 

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“Such positive slogans. Such bland inspirational promotions vomit. What he really wanted was revenge. But against whom, and for what? Even if he had the energy for it, even if he could focus and aim, such a thing would be less than useless.” (260)

After Jimmy is has discovered the news of his mother’s death, he goes into a depressive state. He has always had depressive symptoms throughout his entire life, but during this bout of depression he becomes more bitter. All of the things he once took solitude in like words and sex, are not interesting to him anymore. Although his mental health has never been the best, he is slowly deteriorating and becoming more like his current self, Snowman. Perhaps it’s the negative outlook Jimmy has on life, but it just seems like he never gets a break. He gets temporary moments of happiness, but he never really can find true and lasting meaning in life.

I do applaud Snowman’s survival efforts because I cannot imagine having to go through what he has. I suppose survival mode kicks in regardless if we are prepared for it or not, but it’s still scary to see what Jimmy has to go through. The fact that he always has to ration and scavenge food and drink water with questionable contents is tough to think about. And he has to be so cautious about little things that are typically harmless to us–like a small cut that is easily cured for us can be detrimental to Snowman because it can become infected and prevent him from traveling to find food and water.

  1. Do you think you could survive in Snowman’s situation?
  2. Do you think Jimmy’s mother is actually dead?

“Rosy” Sunsets and Pigoons

 

photo cred: es.klear.com

“In the fading pink light the pigoons waiting for him down below look like miniature plastic figurines, bucolic replicas from a child’s playbox. They have the rosy tint of innocence, as many things do at a distance. It’s hard to imagine that they wish him ill.” (page 276)

“On the eastern horizon there’s a greyish haze, lit now with a rosy, deadly glow. Strange how that color still seems tender.” (page 1)

I chose to contrast these two quotes, one that we have just read and the other which we analyzed after the very first day of reading this novel. We see in both quotes Snowman relating the “rosy” coloring to a thing of evil. Snowman often has these innocent thoughts. Choosing to see the good, much like Oryx had told him to do. Then, by natural instinct, he pulls himself to survival mode. Forcing himself to see the reality of the situation. Snowman seemingly wants to be content, to go back to a simpler thought process of a kinder and gentler world. As Snowman progresses through the novel he is constantly adding an extra layer of detail to practically everything in his word choice. Mostly so, adding the descriptive detail of everything’s color to the storyline.

 

Can you think of any other quotes that involve color and have a descriptive impact like “rosy”?

 Is there another descriptive form that Snowman tends to use when he’s narrating? 

Crakers

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image credit: google images

“Can they speak?

Of course they can speak, when they have something to say.

Do they make jokes?”

In this reading, I honestly did not find Crake to be as much as a jerk as I have thought throughout the book so far. He offered Jimmy a wonderful job and even explains his experiment to him and lets him see it. What I found interesting from myself is that I was sort of agreeing with what Crake was creating. As he was creating these new people, he has everything strategically planned and it honestly seems like all will go well. Well unfortunately that was not the case when all was said and done. But thinking about it further, was it actually Crake that destroyed the world? I do not think so because he is controlling the population, he even puts into consideration these new creation’s diet plan so that no animal would be slaughtered. But maybe there is more to this that is later on in the book. Or maybe it was something else that happened that made the world it is now to Snowman. With Snowman being the only human left, or so he thought.

I chose this quote because I find it interesting that Jimmy is so cautious of keeping any “human” traits in tact as much as he can. He is always questioning Crake and I think that is a good thing.

I couldn’t ever imagine a world where I was the only human left, and there were ungodly creatures everywhere. For this, I give Snowman a lot of respect for being able to survive in this world and to only speak good about Crake and Oryx, even though they may have possibly ruined the world. Which makes me wonder still why he does that? Why does he make Crake and Oryx seem like Gods to the people, instead of himself seeing that he is the only human being alive?

My questions are

  1. Do you think it is Crake’s fault for destroying everything?
  2. Why is it that Snowman continues to speak only good things about Crake and Oryx?

 

Population Overload

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“So basically you’re going to sterilize people without them knowing it under the guise of giving them the ultra in orgies?”

That’s a crude way of putting it,” said Crake.

This whole general idea of sterilizing people without them knowing sounds almost inhumane, but in a way I can personally see this being an incredible thing for the human population to be maintained just because it had increased so dramatically in such a short amount of time. Especially if changes can be made to that certain pill so that the effects will change and you can have children again. This is almost entirely relate able to the real world today and in some ways would be very beneficial just because the world is so over populated currently. Although this kind of goes against Crake’s fathers views just by inferring from the theory because the reason he was killed was because he knew about the small manageable viruses they would put in the vitamins for a cycling profit from the Pleeblands. And with this new drug that Crake has produced they won’t be telling the public that it’s going to sterilize them completely until possibly later notice.

Another thing that’s been popping out to me is the profit factor of this story. Everything before the virus that killed the majority of everyone off was mainly based around money and status as we discussed in class, but it becomes more present when we go from Jimmy’s decent middle paying job at AnooYoo to Crake as being the highest status in the RejoovenEsense compound with his Paradice dome being almost the highlight of the compound especially if CorpsdeCorp isn’t even able to come in even though that’s almost like the compounds government. It’s just very interesting to read about

  1. Do you believe that this BlyssPluss pill may have been the cause for the virus that killed everyone off? If not what do you think caused it?
  2. Is it possible that anyone can be alive still besides the Children of Crake?

Crake, what did you do?

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One line from this reading jumped out at me. Up to this point, it’s been hinted that a disease wiped out humanity, or nearly wiped out humanity. We’ve had several parts where Snowman hints at this, through his memories. At first, it seems that Atwood is foreshadowing that HealthWyzer is responsible. This is because of Crake’s conversation with Jimmy in the previous reading where he revealed that HealthWyzer engineers diseases and viruses so that people will get sick. The only way HealthWyzer can make money is if people buy cures, and the only reason people would buy cures is if they have a disease. This section is foreshadowing that, very likely, it’s a bioengineered disease that wipes out humanity. However, I don’t think HealthWyzer is to blame.

 

The line that jumped out at me was in the middle of page 276. Snowman is in an abandoned guard tower, lying in a bed where “a dead man used to sleep”, a dead man who didn’t see it coming, whatever killed him. Snowman feels guilty for not being able to prevent whatever killed off humanity, and he thinks to himself, “If I’d killed Crake earlier, thinks Snowman, would it have made any difference?”

We can gather two things from this line. One: Snowman kills Crake. Two: Crake causes the end of humanity.

 

To address the first, Snowman says, “If I’d killed Crake earlier” which likely implies “If I’d killed Crake earlier than I did”. To address the second, why else would killing Crake prevent the death of humanity, unless Crake bioengineered the disease that wiped us out? As to why Crake did that, we can only begin to guess.

 

So, my questions are:

 

  1. Do you think Crake is responsible for the death of humanity?

2. In the event that Crake bioengineered a disease that killed off humanity, what do you think his motive would be for this?

The New Normal

“The pleebland inhabitants didn’t look like the mental deficients the Compounders were fond of depicting.”

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Following the (forced) discovery of Jimmy’s mother’s death, Jimmy somewhat spirals into a depression (which is similar to his normal life, but just a little bit crankier) and stops checking his email, pushes away the wives he’s been having affairs with, and begins drinking alone at night. Just as he settles into this newfound lifestyle, Jimmy gets a knock at his door and answers grumpily, expecting the woman he had just been a dick to to have come back to try and fix (and sleep with) him again. Instead, it’s Crake.

Crake’s sudden entrance back into Jimmy’s life brings the pair into the pleeblands, or New New York to be more specific, to “troll a few bars” and explore the city. So far in the story, the pleeblands have been depicted as dirty, overcrowded shitholes full of imbeciles and criminals, with little redeeming qualities outside of essentially instantaneous access to sex.

Once they reach the city, though, Jimmy instantly notes (quoted above) that the pleeblands people don’t really look all that bad, and he relaxes very quickly and takes in his surroundings. Not unlike the actual New York City, Jimmy is met with beggars, prostitutes, wall-to-wall advertising, street musicians and people with imperfect faces. Or, what most of us would consider to be normal. Throughout their entire daylong excursion, the only truly out-of-place part of the city is the row of shops hawking products to change the way people look and feel.

From the outside, the world in which this novel takes place is flipped. The
“normal” live inside the Compounds, have genetically-altered food, access to all sorts of higher education, and health-altering products, among other things. The Compounders are walled in, protected by guards, and essentially pawn their physical and less desirable labor off on the pleeblanders.

On the flip-side, the pleeblands, which from the scene in this section seem not unlike what a trip to actual New York City would look like, is considered not normal, but rather something to be feared and looked down upon. The economic and socioeconomic powers at be in this novel have flipped the definition of “normal” to the extreme, creating a sort of “new normal” that revolves around intellectual advancement of the select few while the others are left outside and behind.

  1. Seemingly happy in this section, what drives Crake over the edge later in the novel?
  2. Will Jimmy assimilate comfortably into Paradice?

Crake, The walking God

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“These are the floor models “

I’d like to focus this post on Crake and particularly his role in the novel. First off, Crake is symbolized as a God, no question about it. He actually creates life, and with hints of his own image (green eyes). Without him, the Crakers would not exist. He is also deitized for the Crakers by Snowman, which the reasoning for that has yet to become absolutely clear. Further more than actually being worshiped, he is held in god like status. His peers idolize him for his intelligence, as do his employers and he’s made countless  advances in science. Jimmy also sees Crake as more than just a normal friend, almost like a mentor or life companion.

Building on this, and seeing the foil to Jimmy, Crake can almost be seen also as everything jimmy could have been. Jimmy’s father might have  wanted a more Crake like son than Jimmy. Top of his class, science minded, destined for greatness, with an ambition and passion to match. Perhaps if Jimmy’s family didn’t fall apart, he would have been raised better, applied himself, and been a more Crake like son. However, that was not the case and Jimmy grew up without much passion for anything, and what little he did have was soon sapped by his lifestyle. Crake lives up to his potential, as jimmy seems to choose to ignore it. What do you guys think?

  1. Is Crake a God figure in the story?
  2. Is Crake a foil for Jimmy?
  3. Does Crake maybe represent what Jimmy could have been?

 

 

Business and Sickness

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image credit: 2ndbattalionthelancashirefusiliers.com

 

The development of the technology has given us a lot of benefits. It seems that there is no limit. However, what if there is no demand for the technology? It is usual that a business starts to decline when people do not need the product anymore. What do the companies try to do when they are not wanted by people anymore? Do they change the way of advertising? Do they make a new product? Do they change their field of the business? Or, do they make “demand for the product”?

 

“’…Suppose you make your money out of drugs and procedures that cure sick people, or else — better — that make it impossible for them to get sick in the first place.’” (210)

“’So, what are you going to need, sooner or later?’” (210)

When I was reading this part, I quickly figured out what Crake tries to say. At this moment, Jimmy is too stupid. It is obvious that the company is trying to make the “demand” for the product. The point is that the company is making drugs, so what they want to do for increasing the demand was to produce more sick people. It is a scary idea. The people in the company might start the job with pure desire to help sick people, but it can be turned into vicious desire to produce something bad for people. When people try to get too much benefits, ethical thoughts can be forgotten. It leads worst outcome for all the people.

“’The best diseases, from a business point of view’” (211)

This is what can be done by human beings. If people sought too much, they would destroy themselves.

 

・Is there any example in the real world like this?

・How can people prevent this kind of situation?

・What are the different perspectives of Crake and Jimmy about this topic?

Children of Crake

Broken-DNA
Photo Credit: http://www.healthfreedomusa.org/?cat=5

Some very interesting things happened in this section of Oryx and Crake. First we return to the game of Extinctathon where we find out the Crake is not only a Grandmaster but also has be granted access to a very secret group where their motto is ‘Adam named the animals. MaddAddam customizes them’. Then we find out that there are tiny parasitic wasps invading ChickieNobs that’s carrying a form of chicken pox, a new house hold mouse causing fires in Cleveland, and a microbe that turned many highways into sand. In away this seems like a group that is fighting against the compounds. The fact that their motto is that they customize animals, leads me to believe that one of the compounds is behind it, or at least someone with the same knowledge and technology. Plus the fact that Crake is very interested in this and he recreates mankind in his name, makes me think that he will eventually end up joining the group in some way.

All it takes is the elimination of one generation. One generation of anything. Beetles, trees, microbes, scientists, speakers of French, whatever. Break the link in time between one generation and the next and it’s game over forever.

-Crake, Page 223

 

This quote really makes me suspicious because to me, it seems to be exactly what happened to the world. The Children of Crake don’t know anything about the old world. Even it they were a new generation, that doesn’t explain how they lost all the previous knowledge of the generation before them. Something had to have happened in order for all that knowledge to be lost. And what Crake tells Jimmy, makes that possible. If he wiped out an entire generation and that just left a few select people such as Snowman, then the Children of Crake wouldn’t know anything of the new world as they grew up. It sorta fits. Plus we learn some information about what happened. It seemed like a disease spread. From Snowman, we get that the man whose house he broke into had an illness. It makes me believe that an illness broke out, people panic and riots started. Perhaps it was the illness that broke the connection between generations.

Do you think Crake becomes involved with the MaddAddam group? Or does he just use their idea or power to get what he wants?

Do you think Crake did something to break the link in time between generations? If so how? Did he use a disease like HelthWyzer or by another means?

Did HelthWyzer release a diseases that they lost control over and Crake just took the opportunity to recreate mankind?

First Look

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In this chapter, we finally get our first look at the Crakers. Beyond that, we get our first real look at all the work Crake has been doing for the last few years. He’s developed a pill that changes humans drastically, a birth control, an increase in libido and a protector from disease all in one. It is clear to Jimmy before he’s even introduced to the idea of the Crakers, that Crake is all-important and is on the cusp of something epic.

I do believe that scientists here and now could be working on a pill similar to the one created by Crake and his team. Perhaps not a new brand of human, such as Crakers, but something to enhance the already flawed and present human beings. It is not outrageous to think that scientists have it in their minds and in their sights to better what they believe to be deeply problematic. I see where Crake and his team are coming from in their hopes to create a more healthy and peaceful race.

We still don’t know when the Crakers will be introduced to the rest of the world, or how, but I cannot see a situation where they would be welcomed. I wonder if, between the disease that seems to be forshadowed and the classist notion behind a marketed pill that only some will be able to afford, if humans will be wiped out entirely and be replaced by the Crakers.

Do you think that Crake and his team have positive, negative or mixed intentions when it comes to the pill and the Crakers?
Do you think a pill similar to this would be helpful for society at all?

Jimmy and Crake: The Dynamic Duo

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Photo Cred: Yahoo.com

“All it takes,” said Crake, “is the elimination of one generation.One generation of anything…Break the link in time between one generation and the next, and it’s game over forever.” p. 223

I don’t know if anyone has said this yet, but Crake is really a dick in this novel. I don’t like his character at all. He thinks he knows everything and is better than Jimmy/Snowman and is bitter and selfish.

He has a twisted view on love and relationships and wants to keep moving things forward with the new inventions (And that chicken thing was disgusting. I was totally with Jimmy/Snowman on that one.) and Jimmy was right: the new inventions will be our downfall and it will destroy everything.

Which is, essentially, what Crake is saying in the quote above. We will be our own demise in the end and that’s usually how the apocalypse or an apocalyptic event takes place in movies in books. It seems like, in previous chapters so far, that that was what caused the apocalyptic event: the gene-splicing and creating new animals, but also Crake uncovering that the scientists were creating or adding new diseases into the pills they were giving out to the people in compounds. Talk about a good way to turn someone into a zombie.

Anyway, from these past two sections it seems as though Jimmy/Snowman and Crake are polar opposites, but they seem to somewhat get along. Jimmy/Snowman says earlier on that he feels like Crake is jealous of him at one point and maybe that’s why he tries so hard to use big words and overanalyzes everything with these extravagant theories.

My questions for the next section are:

  1. What will become of this secret mission being carried out by the scientists?
  2. Where will Crake go next with his theories?
  3. Will Snowman ever make it to his destination?
  4. What happened to Oryx?

 

Jimmy & Corporate Drag

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He discovered quite soon that, corporately speaking, he was a drudge and a helot.”

For the first time in Oryx & Crake, part of the story feels not so different from how the real world feels. Revealed towards the end of this section of reading, starting on page 242, Jimmy’s transition from college to post-college to a career is described , none of which is very different from most of what we as students are facing after graduation.

Following his graduation from one of the Compound’s worst colleges, Jimmy finds himself in a dead-end job he doesn’t enjoy, and is eventually fired due to his refusal to get rid of certain books he should be deeming unnecessary. He then lives with his girlfriend, Amanda, who he sees as someone he can try to “fix,” and her two other Pleebland artist friends, both of which act completely unsurprisingly in their “type.”

Jimmy’s relationship with Amanda eventually runs its course, and he moves into a small, crappy apartment alone, working a crappy job he doesn’t enjoy, and has to dumb himself down at the will of his probably less intelligent bosses, who grade Jimmy’s work on a somewhat subjective scale, never quite outlining what exactly they’re looking for, until they tell Jimmy he’s found it. This starts Jimmy’s ascent up the corporate ladder, reinvigorates his sex life (until he grows bored with being the mistress(?) to married women), and gets him a nice apartment and not anymore actual fulfillment in his life.

Jimmy’s journey through his twenties, so far at least, is not unlike the journey most college students in 2016 will face once they graduate. Sure, Jimmy doesn’t have student loans, but the lack of direction, a feeling of unfulfilled dreams in corporate life, and bouncing from bad relationship to bad relationship isn’t exclusive to a post-apocalyptic alternate universe. All of the feelings Jimmy feels feel personal, and could very easily be describing a struggling 24-year old in Muncie just as much as they could a character in this story.

  1. When will Jimmy decide he’s had enough with this lifestyle and try to find fulfillment elsewhere?
  2. Is his rediscovery of Oryx at the very end of this section that turning point in his life?

Grandmaster Crake

Adam named the animals. MaddAddam customizes them.

This section started us out with some interesting information about HelthWyzer and Crake’s father. We learned that he was shoved off of a bridge for knowing too much about the terrible things HelthWyzer was doing. Crake wonders if Jimmy’s mom knew about it too. We then find out that Crake has still been playing Extinctathon since he and Jimmy played it as kids; he has finally become a Grandmaster. Jimmy predicted earlier in the novel that Crake wouldn’t stop until he achieved this status in the game. Crake shows him something else in the game; after taking a number of seemingly random shortcuts through things like a pleeb bank and a car parts manufacturer and a picture of young Oryx, he gets to his destination. MaddAddam seems to be more than just the creators of a game for kids. There are news bulletins about things like a wasp infecting ChickieNobs, altered mice causing house fires, and a porcupine/beaver combination messing up vehicles. MaddAddam is asking for any new ideas, or “fresh initiatives.” It seems that this is an organization wanting to start a revolution, by creating altered versions of animals and setting them loose. They apparently use Extinctathon as a sort of screening system, and anyone who is good enough and dedicated enough to achieve the title of Grandmaster in this game is deemed worthy for their cause.

The other really interesting part of this section for me was the ending, when Jimmy was watching the news and a program came on about young girls involved in sex scandals and an adolescent Oryx appeared on the screen. She spoke about her situation in a very different way than the other girls. She seemed more calm about the whole thing, and said she was glad she had been sold to her “Mister.” I’m glad we’ve come back around to Oryx, because we learned about her as a small child and we have gotten glimpses into what looks like a relationship between her and Jimmy later on, but we have not yet found out how they actually came to meet in person.

  1. Do you think part (or all) of why Jimmy’s mother left had to do with her having information about HelthWyzer?
  2. Do you think we will find out how Jimmy and Oryx actually met?