Oryx and Crake

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Outside Symbol Icon
The Pleeblands are “outside”—lawlessness, disease, and poverty abound. Contagion threatens to break into the body from air or water. Outside stands for fear, foreignness, dirtiness, poverty, and desolation. After the plague, the inside and outside are no longer separated, and the whole world becomes outside. Outside thus stands for the breakdown of order—social, economic, and cultural hierarchies are meaningless “outside.”

Outside Quotes in Oryx and Crake

The Oryx and Crake quotes below all refer to the symbol of Outside. 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 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.


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Chapter 11 Quotes

Maybe the guards tried to get out of RejoovenEsense just like everyone else. Maybe they, too, hoped they could outrun contagion.

Related Characters: Jimmy (Snowman) (speaker)
Related Symbols: Inside, Outside
Page Number: 270
Explanation and Analysis:

Snowman revisits the guard tower of a major corporate building. He realizes that there are no dead bodies inside the building, suggesting that even the guards were trying to run away from the mysterious "contagion"--the disease that, it's implied, killed most of the human population.

As we go on, we learn more about what, precisely, caused the global apocalypse. Here, we realize that it was a virus that did humanity in; furthermore, the virus may have been developed within or close to a major corporate building. The passage conveys the pathetic quality of humanity's struggle for survival: nothing humanity does can save it from the horrors of disease and amoral, all-consuming greed.

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Outside Symbol Timeline in Oryx and Crake

The timeline below shows where the symbol Outside appears in Oryx and Crake. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
Scientific Progress & Its Costs Theme Icon
Corporate Power & Commodification Theme Icon
History, Language & the Humanities  Theme Icon
Extinction & Evolution Theme Icon
...clear that a new kind of virus had been introduced in the livestock population from outside. Jimmy’s father and the other man lament that their paid security forces failed to do... (full context)
Corporate Power & Commodification Theme Icon
...insular and secure community built for company employees and their families. Jimmy has never been outside, to a city, and has heard that the cities are dirty and dangerous. People within... (full context)