Oryx and Crake

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The Crakers Character Analysis

The Crakers are the result of Crake’s project “Paradice.” He pitches them as “floor models”—or examples of all of the various genetic modifications that could be sold separately to parents who were willing to pay for more genetically perfect children. But it eventually becomes clear that the Crakers are Crake’s solution to what he sees as human imperfection, and that his plan had been to eradicate humanity as we know it and leave the Crakers in its place. They are strikingly beautiful, with perfect features and flawless skin that is immune to UV damage. They have a digestive system similar to that of a rabbit, so they can survive on a wide variety of simple vegetation, so food is not scarce. Romantic love has been bred out of them entirely: sex occurs as a purely reproductive act, once every three years per female. When a female Crake is ovulating, she gives off a pheromone scent and her backside turns blue (this trait is borrowed from baboons). Then males know they can pursue her sexually, but if a male is not chosen he does not feel any disappointment or anger. The rest of the time, the Crakes are basically sexless, and sexual or romantic frustration is completely absent in them. Crake also tried to breed religion, history, and art out of the Crakers, but it appears he has been unsuccessful. The Crakers ask many questions about where they came from, and with Snowman’s guidance they build a kind of mythology for themselves, where Crake is (ironically, because he would hate any kind of mythology) their god. They also begin, towards the end of the novel, to make art—they build a likeness of Snowman in the hopes that it will help him to return safely from his trip. It is unclear whether or not we should consider the Crakers “human,” but their interest in art and history is distinctly humanistic, and suggests they are more like us than they may seem at first.

The Crakers Quotes in Oryx and Crake

The Oryx and Crake quotes below are all either spoken by The Crakers or refer to The Crakers. 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 5 Quotes

On some non-conscious level, Snowman must serve as a reminder to these people, and not a pleasant one: he’s what they may have been once.

Related Characters: Jimmy (Snowman), The Crakers
Page Number: 106
Explanation and Analysis:

Here Snowman is again interacting with the Crakers, the genetically modified human-like creatures that Crake built. The Crakers share certain traits with humans, but they are more advanced in some ways and primitive in others. Snowman is like a god and a father-figure to the Crakers: his job is to take care of them, to make sure that they don't destroy themselves.

In this passage, Snowman realizes that the mythology and stories he's been teaching the Crakers is a kind of warning: Snowman is a survivor of the old world, and so paradoxically, his presence among the Crakers is a warning that the Crakers are flawed--they share DNA with an ugly, imperfect being. Ironically, Snowman, because he's one of the only survivors of the pre-apocalyptic human civilization, is taken as representative of that civilization, despite the fact that he's always hated it.

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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.

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 14 Quotes

“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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The Crakers Character Timeline in Oryx and Crake

The timeline below shows where the character The Crakers appears in Oryx and Crake. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3
Corporate Power & Commodification Theme Icon
History, Language & the Humanities  Theme Icon
...diary could help him cope, but he knows his writing would have no audience; the Crakers (the beings he had earlier called children) cannot read. (full context)
The State of Human Relationships Theme Icon
Extinction & Evolution Theme Icon
...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 5
Humans & Animals Theme Icon
The State of Human Relationships Theme Icon
History, Language & the Humanities  Theme Icon
Toast. Snowman has told the Crakers the story of their origin. He has told them that the Crakers themselves are the... (full context)
The State of Human Relationships Theme Icon
History, Language & the Humanities  Theme Icon
...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)
Corporate Power & Commodification 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... (full context)
Scientific Progress & Its Costs Theme Icon
History, Language & the Humanities  Theme Icon
When Snowman is finished the Crakers gather around him and ask to hear about the deeds of Crake. Snowman explains that... (full context)
History, Language & the Humanities  Theme Icon
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)
Chapter 7
The State of Human Relationships Theme Icon
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)
Humans & Animals Theme Icon
Extinction & Evolution Theme Icon
...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 gave the ability... (full context)
Extinction & Evolution Theme Icon
The Craker called Abraham Lincoln welcomes snowman, and asks him to come across the line. Snowman notes... (full context)
Scientific Progress & Its Costs Theme Icon
Humans & Animals Theme Icon
History, Language & the Humanities  Theme Icon
Extinction & Evolution Theme Icon
...Snowman is satisfied by the fact that Crake failed to breed religion out of the Crakers, eliminate “the cluster of neurons” where he believed God resided—the Crakers have clearly developed a... (full context)
Scientific Progress & Its Costs Theme Icon
Humans & Animals Theme Icon
History, Language & the Humanities  Theme Icon
Extinction & Evolution Theme Icon
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)
The State of Human Relationships Theme Icon
History, Language & the Humanities  Theme Icon
Extinction & Evolution Theme Icon
Snowman tells the Crakers he is going to go on a long journey, to see Crake. Children beg to... (full context)
Scientific Progress & Its Costs Theme Icon
As Snowman leaves the Craker camp, he again feels anger towards Crake. The voice of his father tells him he... (full context)
Scientific Progress & Its Costs Theme Icon
Humans & Animals Theme Icon
The State of Human Relationships Theme Icon
Extinction & Evolution Theme Icon
...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)
The State of Human Relationships Theme Icon
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 9
Scientific Progress & Its Costs Theme Icon
Humans & Animals Theme Icon
The State of Human Relationships Theme Icon
Extinction & Evolution Theme Icon
...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 11
The State of Human Relationships Theme Icon
Extinction & Evolution Theme Icon
...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
Scientific Progress & Its Costs Theme Icon
Corporate Power & Commodification Theme Icon
...habitat, with large trees and lots of vegetation. This is Jimmy’s first view of the Crakers. They are naked, but betray no self-consciousness. They are strikingly beautiful, with bright green eyes.... (full context)
Scientific Progress & Its Costs Theme Icon
Corporate Power & Commodification Theme Icon
Extinction & Evolution Theme Icon
Crake explains that the Crakers started as modifications of stolen human embryos. But now the Crakers are reproducing themselves. He... (full context)
Scientific Progress & Its Costs Theme Icon
Corporate Power & Commodification Theme Icon
The State of Human Relationships Theme Icon
Extinction & Evolution Theme Icon
Crake expands upon the different features modeled by the Crakers (these features, could, theoretically, be chosen one by one by prospective parents looking to design... (full context)
The State of Human Relationships Theme Icon
...in Paradice, Crake is showing him how to use the various viewing screens in the Craker observation tower. On the screen Jimmy sees a woman in with the Crakers, naked like... (full context)
Scientific Progress & Its Costs Theme Icon
The State of Human Relationships Theme Icon
...really understand the question, but Crake had then asked him to take care of the Crakers if anything bad happened to him. Snowman curses himself for not taking this seriously. Crake... (full context)
Scientific Progress & Its Costs Theme Icon
The State of Human Relationships Theme Icon
History, Language & the Humanities  Theme Icon
...Jimmy, if she and Crake were to ever go away, to take care of the Crakers. Oryx looks emphatic so Jimmy promises. She tells him she’s very happy, and says she’ll... (full context)
Scientific Progress & Its Costs Theme Icon
Corporate Power & Commodification Theme Icon
The State of Human Relationships Theme Icon
...kills all three. Jimmy is now the only one in the airlock except for the Crakers—he killed the staff because he feels that it is imperative that he not fall victim... (full context)
Chapter 13
The State of Human Relationships Theme Icon
Extinction & Evolution Theme Icon
Jimmy checks on the Crakers three times a day. They don’t seem to know that anything has changed. Occasionally they... (full context)
Scientific Progress & Its Costs Theme Icon
Corporate Power & Commodification Theme Icon
The State of Human Relationships Theme Icon
Extinction & Evolution Theme Icon
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)
History, Language & the Humanities  Theme Icon
...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)
The State of Human Relationships Theme Icon
History, Language & the Humanities  Theme Icon
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)
Scientific Progress & Its Costs Theme Icon
Corporate Power & Commodification Theme Icon
The State of Human Relationships Theme Icon
History, Language & the Humanities  Theme Icon
Extinction & Evolution Theme Icon
He leads the Crakers out of the dome. On the way they pass Oryx and Crake's bodies, crumpled and... (full context)
Chapter 14
The State of Human Relationships Theme Icon
History, Language & the Humanities  Theme Icon
...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)
The State of Human Relationships Theme Icon
Extinction & Evolution Theme Icon
The Crakers ask about Crake’s whereabouts, and Snowman tells them Crake is in Paradice, and that they... (full context)
Humans & Animals Theme Icon
The State of Human Relationships Theme Icon
History, Language & the Humanities  Theme Icon
Sermon. After his meal, the Crakers tell Snowman that others like him have passed through the area. Snowman is shocked and... (full context)
History, Language & the Humanities  Theme Icon
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)