Oryx and Crake

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Crake’s given name is technically “Glenn,” but Jimmy notes this just once, and only to confirm that he should in fact be called Crake. His name is borrowed from the game Extinctathon, which tests players on their knowledge of extinct animals (such as the red-necked crake). Crake is a prodigiously talented scientist with a mysterious demeanor who always wears dark, unmarked clothes and shows no interest in love or friendship except with respect to Jimmy and Oryx. Jimmy is his longtime childhood friend, and Crake is seemingly in love with Oryx, though she notes he is not good with either sexual expression or affection. Crake is obsessed with what he calls “elegant solutions” to human problems and believes things like hormones, sex, and emotional attachments, for example, are “inelegant” solutions to reproduction. Over the course of the novel he becomes increasingly interested in the idea of a biologically optimal human, which eventually leads him to create a new kind of human life (the Crakers), whom Crake has created in order to literally breed curiosity, humanism, love, and emotional turmoil out of the human condition. Crake’s belief that humanity as we know it is irreversibly flawed becomes an obsessive, manic conviction that drives him to terrible actions.

Crake Quotes in Oryx and Crake

The Oryx and Crake quotes below are all either spoken by Crake or refer to Crake. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Scientific Progress & Its Costs Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Anchor Books edition of Oryx and Crake published in 2004.
Chapter 7 Quotes

Crake thought he’d done away with all that…God is a cluster of neurons, he’d maintained…They’re up to something though. Something Crake didn’t anticipate. They’re conversing with the invisible. They’ve developed reverence.

Related Characters: Crake, The Crakers
Page Number: 157
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Snowman thinks about the new society that's arisen on Earth, after the decline of humanity. The Crakers have been bred by Crake to be uncreative, emotionless, and basically atheistic. And yet the Crakers are still drawn to art, mythology, and religion: they have a strong religious instinct, apparent in their embrace of the mythology Snowman has invented for them. The Crakers, against all the odds and their own genetic makeup, have maintained a human capacity to worship the divine.

The passage is interesting because it suggests the rivalry between Jimmy (Snowman) and Crake: Jimmy seems to be getting revenge on Crake by teaching the Crakers to worship everything that Crake hated (religion, stories, myths, etc.). Crake, we can tell, was an atheistic person with a highly scientific turn of mind: he didn't believe in "myth" of any kind, whether it was religion, poetry, or fiction.

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Sex is no longer a mysterious rite, viewed with ambivalence or downright loathing, conducted in the dark and inspiring suicides or murders. Now it’s more like an athletic demonstration, a free-spirited romp.

Related Characters: Crake, The Crakers
Page Number: 165
Explanation and Analysis:

In the post-apocalyptic world, the Crakers are what remains. The Crakers are like humans in some ways, but they lack humans' capacity for jealousy, sexual rivalry, and love: thus, they have sex, but only as a means of reproduction. Jimmy notes that the Crakers' habits have some advantages over humans: unlike humans, Crakers don't have any jealousy or sexual violence to speak of--sex is just a regular act for them, like an athletic "demonstration." (And this was Crake's intention in creating them--to free them from all the potential suffering and conflict that arises from sexual desire.)

The passage is interesting because it seems to allude to the Biblical Garden of Eden. Before the fall of man, some religious scholars suggest, Adam and Eve did have sex, but only out of an abstract necessity--they hadn't yet found "fallen" sexual passion. The notion of the fall of man is highly relevant to the novel, since it shows that by discovering the mysteries of life and death, mankind has fallen out of paradise. Thus, the passage is a subtle signal that with the Crakers, we've returned to the Garden of Eden: ignorant of the knowledge of death and life, and of sexual passion, too.

Chapter 8 Quotes

How could I have missed it? Snowman thinks. What he was telling me? How could I have been so stupid?...
There had been something willed about it, though, his ignorance…he’d grown up in walled spaces, and then he’d become one. He had shut things out.

Related Characters: Jimmy (Snowman), Crake
Related Symbols: Inside, Outside
Page Number: 184
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Snowman thinks back on his friendship with Crake, the mysterious young man with whom he grew up. Crake's father died in a car accident, supposedly a suicide. Jimmy remembers Crake remarking that his father was "uncoordinated." Years later, Jimmy realizes the truth: Crake was trying to say that his father was out of joint with the other people in his corporation--he refused to go along with the corporate dogma, and so he was murdered for his disobedience. Jimmy is furious with himself for missing the obvious truth about Crake and Crake's father: he's been willfully ignorant.

The passage is interesting because it shows Crake, not Jimmy, being adept at manipulating language in subtle ways. Jimmy is the writer and wordsmith, and yet he misses Crake's hint about Crake's father's supposed suicide. It also shows Crake as being connected with ideas of "walled spaces"--the divide between "inside" and "outside" is an important one in the novel, and we see Crake's secrecy and efficiency as related to himself maintaining his "inside" and keeping everything else out.

Chapter 12 Quotes

“People come here from all over the world—they shop around. Gender, sexual orientation, height, colour of skin and eyes—it’s all on order, it can all be done or redone.”

Related Characters: Crake (speaker), Jimmy (Snowman)
Page Number: 289
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Crake takes Jimmy through the stunningly beautiful RejoovenEsense compound. Here Crake works on genetic modifications, marketed to whomever is wealthy enough to afford them. Crake can use his scientific knowledge to craft anyone's appearance--their eye color, sexual orientation, etc. He can also change a person's genetic makeup for the proper fee. In short, RejoovenEsense--a hugely powerful corporation--is a place where scientists like Crake change people's very identities.

The casual way that Crake talks about changing people's DNA suggests that it's an ordinary part of his life--he's lost any sense that his work is miraculous, sinful, or otherwise out of the ordinary. As Atwood has suggested elsewhere, though, Crake's work is downright unholy; it trivializes human life, treating the human body as a mere product to be retooled, perfected, and then sold for a profit. Atwood links the sexual crimes of Crake's society with the casual way Crake talks about "redoing" a person's appearance: both the scientists and the sexual predators of the future suffer from the same problem, a basic lack of respect for the human body and for human life.

“If you take ‘mortality’ as being, not death, but the foreknowledge of it and the fear of it, then ‘immortality’ is the absence of such fear. Babies are immortal. Edit out the fear and you’ll be…”
“Sounds like Applied Rhetoric 101.”

Related Characters: Jimmy (Snowman) (speaker), Crake (speaker)
Page Number: 303
Explanation and Analysis:

In this chapter, Jimmy first meets the Crakers, the genetically modified beings that Crake has created. Here Crake claims that the Crakers have been programmed to die when they're 30 years old. But Crake also explains that they are "immortal" in the sense that they don't have any concept of death (like Adam and Eve before their fall, in another possible Bible reference).

In this passage we get a better idea of just what Crake values and doesn't value about humanity. He doesn't have a problem with death--or at least he doesn't yet know how to avoid it--he just has a problem with thinking about death. Thus his "perfect" being (the Crakers) aren't necessarily long-lived, they just lack the capacity to wrestle with larger issues like love and mortality (essentially, what art and the humanities are all about). The Crakers don't have to suffer over sex, love, or death, but they can't achieve any kind of joy, fulfillment, or enlightenment either.

Chapter 13 Quotes

Here are Crake and Oryx, what’s left of them. They’ve been vulturized, they’re scattered here and there, small and large bones mingled into disarray…He’s grinning with all the teeth in his head. As for Oryx, she’s face down, she’s turned her head away from him as if in mourning. The ribbon in her hair is as pink as ever.

Related Characters: Jimmy (Snowman), Crake, Oryx
Page Number: 335
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Snowman, patrolling the ruins of old corporate headquarters, come to the dead bodies of Crake and Oryx: the scientist and his supposed lover. Even in death, we can tell a lot about Oryx and Crake: Crake is still grinning, as if in recognition of the fact that his plan to kill the world has "succeeded" (even if his version of "success" is pretty morbid). For her part, Oryx is an object, through and through: she's been exploited for her beauty and her sexuality again and again. Thus, Oryx's face is turned away from Snowman: she remains a mystery, both to Snowman and to us. (The turned head could also symbolize Oryx turning her back on the destruction Crake has masterminded and she has unknowingly assisted in.)

Oryx  is undeniably, transcendently beautiful, to the point where she seems to stand outside the deterioration of time--a fact symbolized by the beautiful pink ribbon in her hair. The ribbon could also evoke Oryx's creativity and hopefulness--even when the world is in ruins all around her, she radiates joy and beauty, something that transcends mere survival.

Had he been a lunatic or an intellectually honourable man who’d thought things through to their logical conclusion? And was there any difference?

Related Characters: Crake
Page Number: 343
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Snowman/Jimmy tries to make sense of Crake, perhaps the most complex character in the novel. Jimmy wonders if it's right to classify Crake as a madman--or if he deserves to be called a genius. Jimmy also wonders if his madness and genius are one and the same.

Based on what we know about Crake, it's possible to agree with Jimmy that his friend is a madman. Crake seems insensitive to the thoughts and feelings of other people, and he's singularly fixated on working for his corporate employers (even if his "plot" to kill off the world is ultimately a kind of rebellion against corporate culture) and improving the human race to make it more "elegant." Crake, one could also argue, is misunderstood: he doesn't really understand the human heart, can't really love, and actually thinks he is doing the right thing in ridding the earth of "superfluous" humanity.

On a more abstract level, Jimmy's observations about the similarity between genius and madness tells us a lot about Jimmy's civilization. Jimmy grew up in a world in which values were deteriorating even as science was constantly advancing. Humanity's genius was never in question--and yet humanity wad clearly losing its collective mind, selling cures for diseases it had just invented, and tricking consumers into buying new skins and extra kidneys. The best proof of the proximity of madness and genius is civilization itself.

Chapter 14 Quotes

Our arboreal ancestors, Crake used to say. Used to shit on their enemies from above while perched in trees. All planes and rockets are simply elaborations on that primate instinct.

Related Characters: Crake (speaker)
Page Number: 358
Explanation and Analysis:

Snowman remembers that Crake used to talk about mankind's "arboreal ancestors"--i.e., the common ancestor shared with monkeys and apes, the evolutionary forebears of human beings. Crake notes that monkeys (like our ancestors, presumably) defecate on one another, using height to their advantage. By defecating on the animals below them, Crake argues, monkeys anticipated rockets and planes thousands of years later--a bombing from above isn't really so different.

Crake's observation might suggest that humans are hard-wired for aggression and assertions of power: they celebrate their own state by abusing the people below them, just like their evolutionary ancestors defecating on anyone unfortunate enough to be below them. The passage, then, might symbolize the stratification of Jimmy and Crake's world: a world in which the people at the top feel absolutely no need to look out for the "pleebs" at the bottom of the pile. One could generalize the concept even more and say that humanity has always contained the seeds of its own undoing: the aggression, arrogance, and delusions of grandeur that eventually lead to a global plague can be traced all the way back to "arboreal ancestors."

“We made a picture of you, to help us send out our voices to you.”
Watch out for art, Crake used to say. As soon as they start doing art, we’re in trouble.

Related Characters: Crake (speaker), The Crakers (speaker), Jimmy (Snowman)
Page Number: 361
Explanation and Analysis:

Snowman returns to the Crakers to find that they've made a picture of him. The picture, Snowman realizes, is a form of art--disproving what Crake had predicted about the Crakers (Crake had claimed that the Crakers would show no interest in art, and also warned that art was dangerous to the human species).

It's important to keep in mind that the "art" that we see in this scene isn't just art--it's also religion. The Crakers make an image of their god-figure and leader, Jimmy, to summon him back--a clear echo of the talismans and icons common to nearly all the religions of the world. Try as he might, Crake has been unable to "stamp out" the religious and creative instinct in his genetic creations: the Crakers seem to be just as hard-wired for creativity and wonderment as human beings.

Is Crake justified in claiming that art is the first sign of trouble? Atwood has shown that it's also possible that science and immoral scientific experimentation can eventually lead to destruction.The creative instinct, and the religious instinct, it would seem, are flawed, but they're fundamental parts of what it means to be human, and ultimately they're longer-lived than any scientific advance could ever be.

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Crake Character Timeline in Oryx and Crake

The timeline below shows where the character Crake appears in Oryx and Crake. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
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...Snowman’s name. Snowman thinks about how the children have never seen snow. He recalls that Crake did not allow any magical or fantastical names—and gets a bitter pleasure out of the... (full context)
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...want to hear stories about the past. He bitterly notes how beautiful they are—they demonstrate Crake’s aesthetic. They ask Snowman about the moss growing from his face. Snowman tells them—as he... (full context)
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...become visual, and he will see people who are not there. He yells obscenities at Crake, though Crake is not there. He calms down, and tells himself to “get a life.” (full context)
Chapter 3
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Snowman lets his mind wander back to his and Crake’s afterschool distractions. He remembers computer games they would play: Extinctathon, Three-Dimensional Waco, Barbarian Stomp, and... (full context)
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...himself up. He cannot cool down at the nearby stream and watering hole, because the Crakers play in it, and they make him feel grotesque and ask him too many questions.... (full context)
Chapter 4
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Crake. Shortly before Jimmy’s mother leaves, Crake arrives at HelthWyzer High. Jimmy’s mother likes Crake, more... (full context)
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When Crake first arrives at HelthWyzer, Jimmy is apprehensive of him. He is threatened by Crake’s coolness... (full context)
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Brainfrizz. Wakulla Price leaves HelthWyzer high, leaving Jimmy without a lab partner. Crake is assigned to be his partner and Jimmy realizes Crake is an unusually gifted scientist.... (full context)
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Crake becomes particularly obsessed with a game called “Extinctathon” monitored by someone called MaddAddam. The game... (full context)
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When Crake and Jimmy aren’t playing games they are surfing the internet. Some sites feature live streaming... (full context)
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Sometimes Crake is able to hack into his stepfather Uncle Pete’s account using something he calls a... (full context)
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HottTotts. Jimmy and Crake always watch these channels when its late afternoon, and no one but Crake’s mother is... (full context)
Chapter 5
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Toast. Snowman has told the Crakers the story of their origin. He has told them that the Crakers themselves are the... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
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...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.”... (full context)
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Snowman hears the voices of the Crakers coming toward him. They are bringing him his weekly fish. He’s taught them to grill... (full context)
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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... (full context)
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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... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
Chapter 6
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...doing what they needed to in order to survive. When Jimmy vents about it to Crake, Crake remarks that this kind of suffering is the result of overpopulation because humanity has... (full context)
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...angry, and rudely asks Oryx about the specifics of her sexual favors. She tells him Crake is correct in saying he doesn’t have “an elegant mind.” Jimmy apologizes, but maintains that... (full context)
Chapter 7
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...decides he must go to the RejoovenEsence compound. It is a long way away, but Crake’s old bubble dome is there. It had been called “Paradice,” it was full of food... (full context)
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Before Snowman leaves he must explain his departure to the Crakers. He does not want them to worry that he’s missing and put themselves in danger... (full context)
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...performing their morning ritual where they urinate along the invisible line that marks their territory. Crake designed the Crakers so that the smell of their urine would ward off predators. He... (full context)
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The Craker called Abraham Lincoln welcomes snowman, and asks him to come across the line. Snowman notes... (full context)
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...hurt child by kneeling over him and purring. The purring was bred into them by Crake, who made them able to purr at the same frequency as the ultrasound technology that... (full context)
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Snowman takes in the scene inside the Craker circle. Women are tending a fire. They never eat cooked food and the fire is... (full context)
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Snowman tells the Crakers he is going to go on a long journey, to see Crake. Children beg to... (full context)
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As Snowman leaves the Craker camp, he again feels anger towards Crake. The voice of his father tells him he... (full context)
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...can hear laughter, chanting, and singing from the forest. He thinks it must be the Crakers mating. It only occurs once every three years per female, and when she is ready,... (full context)
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Crake and Jimmy, in their early twenties, are talking over lunch. Crake wonders at the misery... (full context)
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Snowman leans against a tree and listens to the sounds of the Crakers mating. He wonders why, since there is no longer any jealousy or domestic violence, he... (full context)
Chapter 8
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SoYummie. Jimmy and Crake graduate from HelthWyzer High. Crake graduates at the top of the class, and has earned... (full context)
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After the ceremony, Crake approaches Jimmy and brings up the subject of his own mother, who we learn passed... (full context)
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Happicuppa. After graduation, Jimmy goes on vacation with Crake and Uncle Pete. Instead of watching their usual TV programming, they tune into news about... (full context)
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Sometimes Jimmy and Crake watch the coffee wars coverage with Uncle Pete, who has stock in Happicuppa and says... (full context)
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When Crake and Jimmy are alone again, they talk about what Jimmy saw. Crake says he guessed... (full context)
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...he is furious with himself. He thinks, “How could I have missed it?” and realizes Crake had been trying to tell him something. Jimmy had been willfully ignorant. (full context)
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Applied Rhetoric. Jimmy and Crake part ways to go to their separate academies. Martha Graham has fallen into a state... (full context)
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Asperger’s U. Jimmy and Crake correspond by email. Crake tells Jimmy that people call Watson-Crick “Asperger’s U” because there so... (full context)
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Crake invites Jimmy to visit Watson-Crick over the holidays and Jimmy accepts. At Watson Crick, Jimmy... (full context)
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...colors. The climate is carefully controlled and the air is clear and pleasant. Jimmy asks Crake if the large butterflies are “real” and Crake responds by saying that things created by... (full context)
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Crake takes Jimmy on a tour of the campus, frequently introducing him to others as “Jimmy,... (full context)
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Next Crake shows Jimmy the wolvog pen. It is a CorpSeCorps-funded project that has designed a dog... (full context)
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Hypothetical. A few days into his visit Jimmy asks Crake about the dating prospects at Watson-Crick. Crake explains that “pair-bonding” is not encouraged, and that... (full context)
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Crake and Jimmy hang out in much the same way they used to. They play computer... (full context)
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On the last evening of Jimmy’s visit, Crake asks him to play Extinctathon. Jimmy agrees, and when Crake logs on Jimmy realizes that... (full context)
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...created by major corporations. Then Maddaddam asks for “new initiatives.” Jimmy gets nervous and asks Crake what’s going on. Crake explains MaddAddam runs a subversive, rebellious operation, and that the MaddAddam... (full context)
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During this visit, Crake often wakes Jimmy up by screaming, horribly, in the middle of the night. When Jimmy... (full context)
Chapter 9
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...humans left, and if someday future generations might wonder about these structures. He remembers that Crake told him it only takes the elimination of one generation to bring civilization to an... (full context)
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...skies darken, and Snowman realizes a tornado is coming. The Pigoons flee. He hopes the Crakers will be safe, and seeks cover in the security tower. He drinks some bourbon and... (full context)
Chapter 10
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...his life is inferior. He is getting fatter, and starting to go bald. He knows Crake ended up at RejoovenEsense, a top-notch company on the cutting edge. They email occasionally, and... (full context)
Chapter 11
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...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... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
Chapter 12
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...and depressed. Someone rings his doorbell and he tells whomever it is to go away. Crake responds—Jimmy realizes Crake is the only person he wanted to see. Crake has passes to... (full context)
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...pleeblands are not the mentally deficient criminals compounders make them out to be. Jimmy and Crake wander around “New New York” and notice all of the RejoovenEsense products for sale. Crake... (full context)
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The RejoovenEsense compound is the most beautiful compound Jimmy has ever seen. Crake gives him a tour of the facilities and takes him out to lunch. Crake tells... (full context)
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Within Paradice, Crake explains, there are two initiatives. One is the BlyssPluss pill, which is designed to eliminate... (full context)
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...he could use a pill like this one, but stops short of saying so to Crake. He agrees with Crake that the pill would become a must-have all over the world;... (full context)
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MaddAddam. After lunch Crake and Jimmy go to Paradice. It is located in an air-locked dome that is basically... (full context)
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Paradice. They stop at Crake’s office. Jimmy notices he still has the word magnets on his refrigerator, only now they... (full context)
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Crake tells Jimmy he will now see Crake’s life work. He takes him to a watch... (full context)
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Crake explains that the Crakers started as modifications of stolen human embryos. But now the Crakers... (full context)
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Crake expands upon the different features modeled by the Crakers (these features, could, theoretically, be chosen... (full context)
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A few days after Jimmy arrives in Paradice, Crake is showing him how to use the various viewing screens in the Craker observation tower.... (full context)
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Jimmy asks Crake where he found this woman, and Crake explains he met her through the escort service... (full context)
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Jimmy and Crake wait for Oryx to join them for lunch. Jimmy asks questions mostly as an excuse... (full context)
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Jimmy spends his days longing for Oryx. He knows he can’t touch her, because Crake is his friend, but nevertheless he can’t stop thinking about her. Meanwhile, Jimmy’s work isn’t... (full context)
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They carry on their affair, and it appears Crake doesn’t know. Oryx explains she is useful to Crake because she has contacts at sex... (full context)
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...Paradice. Jimmy says he doesn’t want to sneak around anymore, and that he’s been worried Crake has found out about them. (full context)
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Snowman is thinking that he should have seen the signs. Crake had asked him once if he would kill someone he loved in order to spare... (full context)
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Jimmy is insisting to Oryx that Crake knows about their affair—he’s not sure why. Perhaps to scare her into running away with... (full context)
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...of infected areas, he sees red splotches all over the globe, spreading fast. He calls Crake but gets no answer. His phone finally rings, but it is Oryx. She is crying... (full context)
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...other staff members inside Paradice are growing nervous. Jimmy tells them to stay calm. Suddenly Crake rings the bell to enter the airlock. Jimmy yells at him through the intercom. Crake... (full context)
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...storage rooms, and tells the other staff members that he has spoken to CorpSeCorps and Crake, who assured him that everything was under control. He tells the staff they should go... (full context)
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...waits for word from Oryx, but it never comes. Jimmy hears beeping at the door. Crake is trying to punch in the code to enter. Jimmy walks up to the door... (full context)
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Jimmy is startled by this information, but agrees to let Crake in. When Crake enters, Jimmy sees that Crake has Oryx draped over his arm and... (full context)
Chapter 13
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...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... (full context)
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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. (full context)
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After Jimmy has shot Crake, he locks himself in his house. A Corpsmen calls once on the phone, asking for... (full context)
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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... (full context)
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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... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
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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... (full context)
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He leads the Crakers out of the dome. On the way they pass Oryx and Crake's bodies, crumpled and... (full context)
Chapter 14
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...has found in the storage area in Paradice, and makes his way back towards the Crakers, out of RejoovenEsense. He scans the horizon for signs of smoke but sees nothing. His... (full context)
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...they were chanting “Snowman,” not Amen. He also notes that they have made art, though Crake said they would not. (full context)
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The Crakers ask about Crake’s whereabouts, and Snowman tells them Crake is in Paradice, and that they... (full context)
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Sermon. After his meal, the Crakers tell Snowman that others like him have passed through the area. Snowman is shocked and... (full context)
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As Snowman prepares to leave in the morning, he imagines giving a sermon to the Crakers about what they should do if these new people mistreat them. He wonders how he... (full context)