Atwood has described Oryx and Crake as ‘speculative fiction’, meaning that it is a novel that takes current trends and extrapolates them to explore what the future might look like. The world of Oryx and Crake extrapolates upon the rapid advances around the turn of the 21st century in biological and genetic engineering and the questions raised about the moral and ethical responsibilities of science and scientists when they became capable of creating new kinds…(read full theme analysis)
Oryx and Crake also imagines a world in which the growing power of corporations in the late 20th and early 21st century also continues on its present path until corporate power literally reigns supreme, unchecked and unchallenged by any other kind of power. Though the novel occasionally mentions, for example, “Russia” and “Fiji” and other non-western countries, the western world seems effectively divided into pleeblands (which still contain cities like “New New York” and San…(read full theme analysis)
The novel examines various kinds of human relationships (sexual, romantic, familial) and how they are affected by the scientific and cultural shifts taking place in Oryx and Crake’s world. Are human relationships free and safe from corporate and scientific manipulation? Are individuals still even capable of human bonding in this culture?
Jimmy spends a great deal of time in the novel seeking connection, and largely failing in achieving it. His mother has left his…(read full theme analysis)
Oryx and Crake portrays a world in which the humanities – history, literature, even language itself – have become devalued in the face of the rise of science, consumerism, and entertainment culture. History has become little more than fodder in video games, such as the game “Blood and Roses” that Jimmy and Crake play, while one of the last colleges to focus on the humanities, the Martha Graham Academy, is run down and a subject…(read full theme analysis)
The book’s interest in human history and the humanities is accompanied by an interest in natural history and the history of life and death on earth. The work being done in the compounds—the modification of animals, gene splicing, building new viruses and immunities—is often described as an extension or acceleration of evolution. The game that gives Crake his nickname is Extinctathon, and involves memorizing and cataloguing the increasingly long list of species that have gone…(read full theme analysis)