Oryx and Crake

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Jimmy’s father Character Analysis

Jimmy’s father is a very absent figure in Jimmy’s life. He is professionally successful, and does not display any misgivings about the ethics of the work he or anyone else does at his company. Jimmy’s father is initially very upset about Sharon’s disappearance, but slowly begins to feel liberated by it. His colleague and girlfriend, Ramona, with whom he has likely been having a long-term emotional affair, moves in and helps out with Jimmy. Once Jimmy is out of the house, he only hears from his father once or twice a year. Usually it is a birthday e-card, sent to him after his birthday has already passed. Jimmy believes his father is killed by Crake’s plague.

Jimmy’s father Quotes in Oryx and Crake

The Oryx and Crake quotes below are all either spoken by Jimmy’s father or refer to Jimmy’s father. 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 2 Quotes

“Leave Daddy alone,” said his mother. “Daddy is thinking. That’s what they pay him for. He doesn’t have time for you.

Related Characters: Sharon (speaker), Jimmy (Snowman), Jimmy’s father
Page Number: 20
Explanation and Analysis:

In the flashback scenes that begin in this chapter, we see Snowman's early life, back when he was called Jimmy--a life that was characterized by absentee parents and emotional emptiness. Jimmy's parents worked for a major corporation, although Jimmy's mother, Sharon, eventually abandoned the corporation because she objected to what she saw as its immoral uses of science and technology.

Sharon is a complex character in the novel, because she's a moral authority (she seems to be one of the only people who realizes how evil the corporation is), and yet she's not a very loving mother to Jimmy. In this scene, for instance, she speaks to her child harshly--she tells Jimmy to stop bothering her father, who works for the corporation. There's a strong note of contempt in Sharon's words here--she seems to be suggesting that she is just as ignored and undervalued by Jimmy's father as Jimmy himself is. But Sharon seems not to show much love for Jimmy either, and she also recognizes the value of capitalism and commodification in her society--even her husband's "thinking" is something to be bought and sold. In short, the passage shows that Jimmy grew up in an emotionally empty place dominated by the need to work and make money.

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Chapter 4 Quotes

There’d been a lot of fooling around in those days: create-an-animal was so much fun, said the guys doing it. It made you feel like God.

Related Characters: Jimmy’s father
Page Number: 51
Explanation and Analysis:

On his birthday, Jimmy receives a pet from his father: a rakunk, a combination of a skunk and a raccoon. As Snowman, in the present, remembers the rakunk, he thinks about the genetic engineering that went on during his childhood. Scientists seemed to enjoy the engineering projects not so much because of their utility but because they encouraged the scientists to feel powerful: creating new forms of life, after all, is practically the definition of being a god.

The passage introduces a religious flavor to the novel: it's suggested that mankind has been punished for daring to overstep its bounds and rise to a god's level (one of the oldest and most familiar themes of science fiction and fantasy stories, and even mythology). If Snowman is now living in a post-apocalyptic time, then perhaps the apocalypse was a punishment for this kind of hubris and recklessness.

“We give people Hope. Hope isn’t ripping off!”
“At Nooskins’ price it is. You hype your wares and take all their money, and then it's no more treatments for them…Don’t you remember the way you used to talk?...you had ideals, then.”
[…] “There’s nothing sacred about cells and tissue.”

Related Characters: Sharon (speaker), Jimmy’s father (speaker)
Page Number: 56
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Jimmy's parents have an argument about the morality of Jimmy's father's genetic research. Jimmy's father works for a corporation called NooSkin that's pretty clearly corrupt and immoral: it charges people huge sums of money in return for a "new skin" that won't get old or show signs of aging over time. The corporation also researches its technology by experimenting with human DNA, combining it with animal DNA in various unusual ways.

Sharon's attack on her husband's research is twofold: first, she finds it immoral that a company would cheat people into buying new skins for such large sums; second, she seems to find something immoral and even unholy about mixing human DNA with animal DNA. It's the second objection that Jimmy's father focuses on--and perhaps it's a more debatable moral objection than the first. The implication of the passage, however, seems to be that Jimmy's father, in working with DNA so frequently, has lost all sight of morality, basic humanity, and the wonders of life: to him, life is now just a product to be modified and sold for money.

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Jimmy’s father Character Timeline in Oryx and Crake

The timeline below shows where the character Jimmy’s father appears in Oryx and Crake. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
The State of Human Relationships Theme Icon
...burning hair reminds Jimmy of when he’d burned his own hair, as an experiment. His father had found it funny, but his mother, Sharon, had been furious, and it had caused... (full context)
Scientific Progress & Its Costs Theme Icon
The State of Human Relationships Theme Icon
History, Language & the Humanities  Theme Icon
...animals were diseased. Jimmy asks if he will be burned up for getting sick. Jimmy’s father says yes, as a joke, which angers Jimmy’s mother. Jimmy cries, and his mother takes... (full context)
Scientific Progress & Its Costs Theme Icon
Corporate Power & Commodification Theme Icon
Humans & Animals Theme Icon
History, Language & the Humanities  Theme Icon
OrganInc Farms. Jimmy’s father works at a company called OrganInc Farms, where he is one of the foremost architects... (full context)
Scientific Progress & Its Costs Theme Icon
The State of Human Relationships Theme Icon
...eats lunch at OrganInc with his dad and his dad’s coworker Ramona. Ramona asks Jimmy’s father many questions about Sharon, expressing concern for her mental health and sadness over the fact... (full context)
Corporate Power & Commodification Theme Icon
...People within the compounds refer to cities and their surrounding areas as “the pleeblands.” Jimmy’s father likes the safety and serenity of the compound, but Jimmy’s mother likens it to a... (full context)
Chapter 3
Corporate Power & Commodification Theme Icon
The State of Human Relationships Theme Icon
...and wishes he hadn’t lost it. This makes him think of his ninth birthday, when his dad had given him a pocketknife. Snowman recalls, years later, telling Oryx about the knife, and... (full context)
Chapter 4
Scientific Progress & Its Costs Theme Icon
Humans & Animals Theme Icon
The State of Human Relationships Theme Icon
On Jimmy’s tenth birthday his father gives him a pet rakunk. Jimmy wants to name it Bandit, but when his mother... (full context)
Corporate Power & Commodification Theme Icon
The State of Human Relationships Theme Icon
Shortly after Killer arrives, Jimmy’s father finds a better job at NooSkins, a subsidiary of HelthWyzer, and the family moves to... (full context)
The State of Human Relationships Theme Icon
...no longer has to eat lunch at home with his mom or at work with his dad . He is happy about this, and begins to put on weight and branch out... (full context)
Scientific Progress & Its Costs Theme Icon
Corporate Power & Commodification Theme Icon
Humans & Animals Theme Icon
The State of Human Relationships Theme Icon
History, Language & the Humanities  Theme Icon
Jimmy’s father begins spending more time at work, but rarely talks about his work to Jimmy or... (full context)
The State of Human Relationships Theme Icon
...frequent and immodest lovemaking. When Snowman thinks about it, he concludes that Ramona and his father probably did not make their affair physical until after his mother left. He ruminates on... (full context)
Chapter 7
Scientific Progress & Its Costs Theme Icon
...Snowman leaves the Craker camp, he again feels anger towards Crake. The voice of his father tells him he must stop whining. Snowman points out to his father that he had... (full context)
Chapter 8
Corporate Power & Commodification Theme Icon
...can be trusted. Seemingly to make Jimmy feel better, Crake tells him that Crake's own father had also left under similar circumstances, and died after going over a highway overpass. Crake... (full context)
Scientific Progress & Its Costs Theme Icon
Corporate Power & Commodification Theme Icon
...releasing them into the population in order to sell the cures—because “illness isn’t productive.” Crake's father, Crake then reveals, was pushed off an overpass because he had found out about this... (full context)