Oryx and Crake

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Oryx and Crake Chapter 11 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Pigoons. Snowman wakes from a nightmare about his childhood home—one in which he is trying to eat one of his mother’s sandwiches but hears a loud scratching at the walls. He collects himself, searches for his belongings, and leaves the security tower, but he cuts his foot on a shard of glass from the bourbon bottle. He must have broken it while sleeping. As he heads across the clearing, he sees Pigoons—he thinks the same group from yesterday—and they are clearly pursuing him. He quickly retreats back to the security tower. The door closes, but the electronic lock no longer functions. He runs to a back room and closes that door. He hears the pigoons breaking down the first door, and they begin slamming against the second, inner door.
Snowman’s childhood continues to haunt his dreams, and, in a sense, his waking hours—the Pigoons of his childhood are now breaking the door down and trying to kill him. The electronic locks no longer function, and the pigoons have the upper hand. This scene reads almost like a reversal of man and animal—Snowman is cornered and isolated, while the Pigoons are grouped, systematic, and have the upper hand. The cut foot is also an ominous sign—the inside of his body is now opened up to infection.
Themes
Scientific Progress & Its Costs Theme Icon
Humans & Animals Theme Icon
Extinction & Evolution Theme Icon
Radio. Snowman is at a loss for what to do. He begins trying random doors along the back wall of the inner room. One of them opens to a flight of stairs. Pigoons are too large and awkward to climb stairs. He quickly escapes up them as the Pigoons break in. The stairs lead to security watchtower. There are no bodies up here—Snowman realizes the guards must have tried to flee RejoovenEsense with everyone else.
Snowman luckily manages to get to the higher ground. The absence of bodies in the security tower tells us that at the end, even the security forces, from whom Jimmy, Jimmy’s mother, and countless other had to flee, were themselves driven out by the virus, which tore apart the compound system the way it tore apart the body,
Themes
Corporate Power & Commodification Theme Icon
Extinction & Evolution Theme Icon
Snowman finds a good deal of supplies in the watchtower. He finds water, cigarettes and beer, as well as a collection of food. In one cupboard he finds a windup radio that still works. He turns it on and tries to see if he can pick up a signal. He hears another human voice, and is momentarily elated, until he realizes the voice is speaking something that sounds like Russian—this person is too far away to be of use to him. Then he realizes he can use a feature on the radio to limit reception only to radio broadcasts in the immediate area. He hears a man’s voice faintly, asking if anyone’s out there. Jimmy responds, “I’m here! I’m here!” but receives no response. Nevertheless, he feels hopeful.
Though this first moment of contact with another human being is thrilling for Snowman, he quickly realizes that—absent any functioning infrastructure of advanced technologies—people who live far away from him may as well not exist. This is a striking picture of the fall of the book’s civilization, Fortunately, Snowman hears a voice from close by—he does not know if he has made contact, but it is finally confirmed he is not the last of his species.
Themes
Scientific Progress & Its Costs Theme Icon
Extinction & Evolution Theme Icon
Rampart. Snowman remembers his injured foot. He inspects it and finds a shard of glass in the wound. He pours some alcohol on it and applies some expired antibiotic ointment. He wishes he had something stronger but must hope for the best. He suspects that the foot may already be infected. There’s nothing more to do but sit and wait. He decides to spend the night on one of the guard’s cots. He continues smoking, and thinks, “If I’d killed Crake earlier…would it have made any difference?” He dreams of his mother and wakes up missing her terribly.
Snowman is now at the mercy of the various bacteria and microbial organisms that have no doubt invaded his foot. He can do nothing about the invasion, except wait and hope for the best—he is basically helpless. It is also revealed to us that Snowman is the one who killed Crake—however in this moment Snowman is wondering if his actions had any effect—if he is in fact as helpless with respect to Crake’s plan as he is with respect to the infection in his foot.
Themes
The State of Human Relationships Theme Icon
Extinction & Evolution Theme Icon
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In the morning Snowman calculates that this is the third day he’s been away from the Crakers. He gathers al of his new supplies into a sack and manages to squeeze himself out through an air vent, so that he can drop onto a rampart that circles the compound and connects the watchtowers. When he lands on the rampart, he realizes he’s forgotten the radio—but there’s no going back now, so he forges ahead. He needs to head to the Paradice dome, where there are guns and ammunition. He remembers how to get there. As he makes his way along the rampart, near the third watchtower, he sees a plume of smoke off in the distance. It is too large a plume to belong to the Crakers’ fire—he wonders if a lightning strike has started a forest fire. He keeps checking on it as he goes—it never spreads or gets bigger. The smoke keeps rising.
Snowman once again thinks diligently about the Crakers. He leaves behind the radio—and in doing so, he leaves behind the only brief contact he’d managed to achieve with another member of his species. He must keep moving though, and does not mourn the loss. Nor should he—the smoke he sees, though he does not explicitly recognize it as such, is a controlled fire that does not belong to the Crakers—we can assume it is man made. Snowman’s actions take on a new meaning given this information. He no longer exists solely to look after the Crakers—it is entirely possible he is not alone.
Themes
The State of Human Relationships Theme Icon
Extinction & Evolution Theme Icon