Oryx and Crake

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Jimmy’s mother was once a highly regarded scientist, but she became disillusioned with her work and quit, claiming that she simply wanted to spend more time with her son. She is depressed and her behavior is erratic and unpredictable. It is eventually suggested that Sharon knew that companies were introducing diseases into the population in order to profit from their cures, and that her and her husband’s complicit role in this activity overwhelmed her with guilt and moral anguish. Eventually she can’t take living with Jimmy’s father anymore, and leaves suddenly, telling Jimmy in a note that she still loves him, and that she has taken Killer (Jimmy’s pet racunk) with her so that the animal can be set free. While she is gone, Jimmy hears from her rarely, via secretive post cards sent from distant locations. The CorpSeCorps question Jimmy regularly about her whereabouts. Once Jimmy sees her on television protesting with a group of environmental activists. Eventually Jimmy’s mother is found and executed by the CorpSeCorps for treason.

Sharon Quotes in Oryx and Crake

The Oryx and Crake quotes below are all either spoken by Sharon or refer to Sharon . 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

“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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Sharon Character Timeline in Oryx and Crake

The timeline below shows where the character Sharon 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
...burned his own hair, as an experiment. His father had found it funny, but his mother, Sharon, had been furious, and it had caused a big fight. His dad told him... (full context)
Scientific Progress & Its Costs Theme Icon
The State of Human Relationships Theme Icon
History, Language & the Humanities  Theme Icon
...burned up for getting sick. Jimmy’s father says yes, as a joke, which angers Jimmy’s mother. Jimmy cries, and his mother takes him outside where she lights a cigarette. She tries... (full context)
Scientific Progress & Its Costs Theme Icon
The State of Human Relationships Theme Icon
...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 that Sharon’s intelligence is... (full context)
Corporate Power & Commodification Theme Icon
...as “the pleeblands.” Jimmy’s father likes the safety and serenity of the compound, but Jimmy’s mother likens it to a “theme park” and is nostalgic for the “old ways.” Though the... (full context)
Corporate Power & Commodification Theme Icon
The State of Human Relationships Theme Icon
Lunch. Jimmy’s mother used to work for OrganInc farms, where she’d worked on making the pigoons immune to... (full context)
The State of Human Relationships Theme Icon
Every so often Jimmy’s mother makes an unusual effort to be a “real” mother to him. Sometimes when Jimmy gets... (full context)
The State of Human Relationships Theme Icon
As Jimmy grows older he takes to acting out to get his mother’s attention. He likes to make her yell, slam doors, and sometimes cry. After he upsets... (full context)
Chapter 4
Scientific Progress & Its Costs Theme Icon
Humans & Animals Theme Icon
The State of Human Relationships Theme Icon
...father gives him a pet rakunk. Jimmy wants to name it Bandit, but when his mother suggests that name he changes his mind and names it Killer. His tenth birthday is... (full context)
Corporate Power & Commodification Theme Icon
The State of Human Relationships Theme Icon
...family moves to the HelthWyzer compound. Jimmy’s father has Ramona transferred over with him. Jimmy’s mother is unhappy about the move. She especially dislikes the HelthWyzer guards, and suspects that they... (full context)
The State of Human Relationships Theme Icon
...Jimmy is old enough that he 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... (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
...begins spending more time at work, but rarely talks about his work to Jimmy or Sharon. Nooskins is trying to develop a new kind of skin that could regenerate quickly and... (full context)
The State of Human Relationships Theme Icon
...about them, and feels especially guilty about some of the things he says about his mother. (full context)
Scientific Progress & Its Costs Theme Icon
Humans & Animals Theme Icon
The State of Human Relationships Theme Icon
One day Jimmy comes home from school and there is a note from his mother on the table. She writes that her conscience has driven her to leave, that she... (full context)
Scientific Progress & Its Costs Theme Icon
Corporate Power & Commodification Theme Icon
The State of Human Relationships Theme Icon
The CorpSeCorps men begin questioning Jimmy frequently about his mother. Jimmy doesn’t understand many of their questions, and doesn’t have much to tell them about... (full context)
Corporate Power & Commodification Theme Icon
The State of Human Relationships Theme Icon
...England and Argentina, that are signed “Aunt Monica.” Jimmy knows these cards are from his mother, but feigns ignorance when the CorpSeCorps men ask about them. (full context)
Scientific Progress & Its Costs Theme Icon
The State of Human Relationships Theme Icon
History, Language & the Humanities  Theme Icon
Extinction & Evolution Theme Icon
Crake. Shortly before Jimmy’s mother leaves, Crake arrives at HelthWyzer High. Jimmy’s mother likes Crake, more than the rest of... (full context)
Corporate Power & Commodification Theme Icon
The State of Human Relationships Theme Icon
...and Crake always watch these channels when its late afternoon, and no one but Crake’s mother is home. She respects Crake’s privacy and never bothers them or enters his room. On... (full context)
Chapter 8
Scientific Progress & Its Costs Theme Icon
The State of Human Relationships Theme Icon
History, Language & the Humanities  Theme Icon
...be attending the much less important Martha Graham Academy, an arts-oriented school. Ramona (now his stepmother officially) and his father attend the graduation and offer jimmy congratulations, but all Jimmy can... (full context)
Scientific Progress & Its Costs Theme Icon
The State of Human Relationships Theme Icon
After the ceremony, Crake approaches Jimmy and brings up the subject of his own mother, who we learn passed away suddenly only a month ago. Crake explains what happened in... (full context)
Corporate Power & Commodification Theme Icon
The State of Human Relationships Theme Icon
...Happicuppa and says disparaging things about the rebels. While watching this coverage, Jimmy sees his mother on the screen, wearing a green bandana over her mouth and shouting at CorpSeCorps men.... (full context)
Scientific Progress & Its Costs Theme Icon
Corporate Power & Commodification Theme Icon
...found out about this practice. Jimmy is shocked. Crake says that Uncle Pete or his mother must have turned his father in. Then he suggests that Jimmy’s mother must have known,... (full context)
Chapter 10
Corporate Power & Commodification Theme Icon
Gripless. The CorpSeCorps continue to bother Jimmy from time to time about his mother’s whereabouts. One day they come over to show him photos and ask him if he... (full context)
Chapter 11
Scientific Progress & Its Costs Theme Icon
Humans & Animals Theme Icon
Extinction & Evolution Theme Icon
...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... (full context)