Oryx and Crake

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Oryx and Crake Chapter 5 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Toast. Snowman has told the Crakers the story of their origin. He has told them that the Crakers themselves are the Children of Crake, and animals are the Children of Oryx. Snowman works to maintain internal consistency in his stories, and the Crakers trust and believe his stories. However, he regrets telling the Crakers certain things; like that Rabbits and other creatures were sacred to Oryx, because now he can’t eat them.
The Crakers wonder where they and other creatures came from – they yearn for stories that give them a sense of their place in the world; they yearn for a mythology – and Snowman becomes a kind of prophet. That Snowman gets caught having to follow the rules of those stories suggests that initially he didn’t understand their power; but they do have power. Interestingly, Snowman again makes Oryx into an image or icon. The story about Crake creating the Crakers is based on truth, but Oryx did not create the animals. Snowman is still constructing Oryx even after her death.
Themes
Humans & Animals Theme Icon
The State of Human Relationships Theme Icon
History, Language & the Humanities  Theme Icon
The first star of the night appears in the sky, and Snowman begins singing “Star Light Star Bright” to himself. Craker children hear him and ask him why he is talking to himself. He tells them he is talking to Crake, and that if they don’t go away, they’ll be toast. They ask him what toast is, and Snowman realizes he’s made an error. Metaphors do not work with the Crakers. He tells them to go away. Once he is alone, he imagines explaining toast to the Crakers and realizes it would be impossible. They have never heard of bread, flour, milk, electricity—the list goes on. Snowman becomes depressed again, and leaves off thinking “I am toast.”
The divide between Snowman and the Crakers is made clearer. They are completely severed from whole categories of words and their meanings. They represent not only the destruction and extinction of man but the destruction and extinction of words and linguistic structures like metaphors. Though the Crakers have language, they are not people with whom Snowman can really communicate. When Snowman says, “I am toast,” he is saying he is something the Crakers could never understand either actually (they can’t make toast) or metaphorically (they don’t understand metaphors).
Themes
The State of Human Relationships Theme Icon
History, Language & the Humanities  Theme Icon
Fish. Snowman looks at the night sky and names all of the colors, remarking to himself that humans were once so ingenious with naming colors, with language, and in fact with everything they did. Crake believed human ingenuity was no different than “monkey curiosity” and disdained the human “monkey brain.” Crake had a very low opinion of human creativity and ingenuity, even though he possessed a great deal of it himself.
Jimmy’s love of language, art and human creativity is contrasted with Crake’s values: Crake seems to think anything unnecessary for survival – for simply continuing to live – is superfluous and inelegant—even though this includes his own genius and ingenuity.
Themes
Scientific Progress & Its Costs Theme Icon
History, Language & the Humanities  Theme Icon
Snowman hears the voices of the Crakers coming toward him. They are bringing him his weekly fish. He’s taught them to grill the fish and wrap it in leaves. A Craker called Abraham Lincoln (Crake had named the Crakers after historical figures, because he found it amusing) presents the fish to Snowman, who eats it greedily. The Crakers find the spectacle disgusting. Nevertheless, some of them sneak looks. Snowman notes that depravity is of interest even to them.
Snowman has made the Crakers’ feeding of him part of their ritual or religion. The Crakers are vegetarian, and are disgusted by Snowman’s consumption of fish, but it seems that they, too, are fascinated and entertained by what disgusts them. This constitutes a substantive link between the Crakers and humanity (as opposed to the superficial and ironic link created by their historical names.)
Themes
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When Snowman is finished the Crakers gather around him and ask to hear about the deeds of Crake. Snowman explains that in the beginning there was chaos. He stirs water into the mud to help the Crakers picture chaos. They initially struggled with pictures—the difference between a representation and the real thing confused them. But now they understand. He explains Crake got rid of chaos, making the “Great Emptiness” so there would be room for his children, and the children of Oryx. The Crakers respond with adulation, thanking Crake for his kindness and generosity. Snowman hates to hear these words, but spitefully notes that Crake was against the notion of God, and would hate to know he’d been made into one.
Snowman has turned the story of the Crakers origin (the actual story of which we will learn in this novel) into a myth that gives the Crakers a sense of their place in the world. That Snowman hates to hear the Crakers praise Crake suggests that the real story isn’t nearly as simple or pretty as what Snowman gives the Crakers. At the same time, it’s worth noting the significance of Snowman’s spiteful revenge on Crake: if giving the Crakers a sense of history and a kind of faith, by encouraging their reverence, and even helping them understand the word “picture”—in other words, art—is revenge, then these must have been things the scientifically minded Crake was opposed to.
Themes
Scientific Progress & Its Costs Theme Icon
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After Snowman finishes this story, one of the Craker women asks him a new question: How was Crake born? Snowman knows he must give them an answer that won’t lead to too many more questions, so he answers that Crake came down out of the sky, like thunder. Then he tells the Crakers that he is too tired to talk anymore, and asks them to go away.
Snowman must simplify his stories so that the Crakers do not ask him endless kinds of questions. He must therefore tell them Crake was not born but descended from the sky, like thunder. This enhances Crake’s godlike status.
Themes
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Bottle. Snowman is too disturbed and lonely to fall asleep. He goes to his cement storage unit and retrieves the last of a bottle of scotch. He goes back up the tree and curses Crake, bitterly noting that he’d fulfilled Crake’s vision by saving the Crakers. He hears wolvogs (deadly creatures that appear friendly like dogs but are lethal as wolves) howling near his tree. He fights the various voices in his head as he continues to get drunker. Just as he is about to pass out, he tries to conjure up an image of Oryx, but she fails to come to him.
Snowman must get drunk to cope with his own fear, anger and sorrow. He tries to connect with absent figures from his past—he screams at Crake and does his best to visualize or hallucinate Oryx. In his loneliness, he is surrounded by the products of unrestrained scientific experimentation—they now pose a great threat to him. The wolvogs, though a product of scientific control of nature, are now in control of Snowman.
Themes
Scientific Progress & Its Costs Theme Icon
The State of Human Relationships Theme Icon