Oryx and Crake

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Oryx and Crake Chapter 13 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Bubble. After the afternoon storm, the air is cooler, and Snowman is able to continue along the rampart. His foot is swollen and painful, and he moves slowly. He thinks there might be antibiotics in Crake’s storeroom. When he comes to the area outside Paradice, he must jump down from the rampart. The impact hurts his foot even more. When he comes to the entrance of Paradice, the bodies of Crake and Oryx are still there, in each other’s arms. Crake’s skeletal face looks like it’s grinning, and the ribbon in Oryx’s hair is still pink.
The two storylines intersect here—we left Jimmy in the last chapter in the exact same place Snowman is now standing, over the bodies of Oryx and Crake. Crake’s grin reflects his sinister and deadly arrogance, and the ultimate success of his plan. Oryx’s still pink ribbon seems to have resisted the effects of time, decay, and degradation, much like Oryx herself did as a kind of ideal of womanhood to both Jimmy and Crake. It is as though, like Oryx, the ribbon is able to exist outside of history.
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Snowman finds antibiotics in the storerooms and applies them to his foot, and gives himself a dose of the pleebland injection cocktail for good measure. He then crawls to his old house and passes out on his bed. He dreams that Alex the Parrot from his childhood is leaving him forever.
Snowman injects himself with the injection that saved him from the plague and left him here alone, hoping it can save him from the infection in his foot. He still believes he might be able to depend on Crake’s products.
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Scribble. In the morning Snowman gives himself another shot of Crake’s superdrug. He roams around his house, feeling disconnected from all of the memories there.
This surreal scene puts Snowman in contact with his material history—he cannot connect to it though, and feels displaced.
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After Jimmy has shot Crake, he locks himself in his house. A Corpsmen calls once on the phone, asking for Crake, but Jimmy says Crake has fled to Bermuda. The Corpsmen curses him but gets off the phone, and after that no one calls. Jimmy guesses they must have tried to flee RejoovenEsense, mistaking the outside for freedom.
Jimmy waits safely inside the dome, while the rest of humanity fights for survival—Jimmy knows this fight is futile, and that already the protection offered by the compound has been destroyed.
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Jimmy checks on the Crakers three times a day. They don’t seem to know that anything has changed. Occasionally they gather up and talk in groups, and Jimmy can hear through the hidden microphones that they are wondering where Oryx has gone. They comfort themselves by remembering that Oryx had once told them that she is always teaching them, even when she is gone.
The Crakers remain blissfully unaware of the circumstances that are essentially enabling their own evolutionary supremacy. They show concern for Oryx, and appear to miss her—this is no doubt something Crake would not have approved of.
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When Jimmy is not watching the Crakers he wanders around aimlessly, eating, drinking, and watching the news. It is chaos out there—animal rights groups are freeing the pigoons and wolvogs. There is widespread crime and looting. The newscasters eventually name the virus JUVE (Jetspeed Ultra Virus Extraordinary). Jimmy watches as city after city is declared a lost cause. Communication with foreign nations is cut off. Jimmy watches the coverage and thinks only of Oryx and Crake—whether Crake knew, whether Oryx loved Jimmy at all. Had Crake been intellectually honorable? Or just a lunatic? Jimmy realizes Homo Sapiens Sapiens will soon have to be added to MaddAddam’s list of extinct animals. There are fewer and fewer newscasters alive to report on events. The last two Jimmy sees turn the cameras on themselves as they die of the virus.
Jimmy watches helplessly as the virus brings down society, culture, and humanity itself. The image of the newscasters filming their own deaths is a poignant metaphor for the implosion of culture that caused this disaster—obsessive consumption and a desperate desire to advance scientific knowledge at all costs. Jimmy is already beginning to think of himself as the last of his species. He obsesses over Oryx’s love, and wonders if his mother was correct in saying Crake had been intellectually honorable, or simply crazy. Ironically, Jimmy could have avoided this mess by engaging these questions earlier—but he had been blinded by Crake’s genius and charisma, and perhaps by his own unwillingness to truly act.
Themes
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Jimmy knows he cannot stay in the dome much longer—once the electricity goes out, the airflow will stop and he and the Crakers will suffocate. Jimmy sits down at his desk and writes a note that begins “To whom it may concern,” and details the events that have transpired. He writes that Crake unleashed the JUVE virus and explains how. He then says he can only speculate as to Crake’s motives… and the handwriting trails off. When Snowman finds the note, he crumples it up and throws it to the floor, for bugs to eat.
Even then Jimmy had not been able to understand much less record Crake’s motives, though he had thought it possible that the events recorded here might be read at some point by future civilizations. Snowman no longer has even this hope—history and language have no place in the Crakers’ lives, and his account is therefore meaningless in this new world, so he discards it.
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Remnant. Jimmy finally shows himself to the Crakers. They marvel at his appearance and at the fabric draped over his body. Jimmy decides to shed his past identity, and tells the Crakers that his name is Snowman. He explains that Oryx and Crake have sent him, and that Oryx and Crake are busy doing many things and cannot be seen. He tells the Crakers that they must travel somewhere new, because Oryx and Crake want them to live in a better place. The Crakers are grateful for this goodwill. They accept everything Snowman says without question.
Jimmy transforms into “Snowman”—a word which bears a significant phonetic resemblance to “no man”—but will later also be phonetically compared to the religious “Amen”—Jimmy’s identity as both a failure and a savior are articulated by this name. He is gentle with the Crakers, and tells them the story in a way that will make it easier for them to understand—he again re-writes history. And he begins to build a kind of gentle revenge of his own by starting to build the mythology that would turn Crake into a god (which Crake would hate) and immortalize Oryx.
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He leads the Crakers out of the dome. On the way they pass Oryx and Crake's bodies, crumpled and already decayed. The Crakers ask what those forms are and Snowman says it is an object of no importance. They accept this and keep moving. Outside the smell is rank. Snowman explains that it is chaos out here, and that chaos smells bad. But he adds that Crake is watching over them, and soon there will not be chaos. A woman who is still alive screams for help, and Snowman shoots her. They ask Snowman about this and he says that it was only a dream. They understand dreams because Crake was unable to breed it out of them. They were hard-wired for dreams. Snowman explains all of the horrible sights to them in gentle terms, so that they do not get frightened, and they finally arrive at the seashore. They tell Snowman they find this place beautiful, and ask him what it is called. He answers, “home.”
Snowman leads the Crakers out from Paradice, through “chaos”—the dilapidated ruins of this advanced civilization—and to the shore where they now live. Some victims of the plague are still living—Snowman must kill them, some of the last living humans, but presumably this fate is better than their continued suffering. Note the resonance with Crakes question about whether he would kill someone to spare them pain: here Jimmy does. He spares these victims pain through death, and spares the Crakers pain through stories. He takes care of Crakers as though they are children, explaining unpleasant truths to them gently and euphemistically. The reference to the world existing as a dream reminds us of the moment where Snowman realizes he is trapped in Crake’s nightmare—only he cannot wake up screaming, as Crake was fortunate enough to do.
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