Oryx and Crake


Margaret Atwood

Teachers and parents! Our Teacher Edition on Oryx and Crake makes teaching easy.
Inside Symbol Icon
The book repeatedly draws attention to the difference between “inside” and “outside” and the efforts to keep the two separated. The emphasis on sanitation is an indication of this: keeping the clean “in” and the dirty “out.” Many people in the compounds work to keep viruses out of human cells (Jimmy’s mom says her job is to put “locks” on the doors of cell walls) and to keep diseases out of the compound. In addition, the Compounds are “inside,” set apart by domes, gates, and doors, inhabited by wealthy families employed by large research corporations. Snowman enjoyed the privilege of the “inside” his whole life, as a “Compound brat” and as an employee working inside Crake’s airlocked “paradice.” “Inside” represents cleanliness, health, familiarity, wealth and comfort, though it is also possible to argue that it represents being closed off and therefore blind to the world.

Inside Quotes in Oryx and Crake

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

So a lot of what went on at Martha Graham was like studying book binding or Latin: pleasant to contemplate in its way, but no longer central to anything, though every once in a while the college president would subject them to some yawner about the vital arts and their irresistible reserved seat in the big red-velvet amphitheater of the beating human heart.

Related Characters: Jimmy (Snowman)
Related Symbols: Inside
Page Number: 187
Explanation and Analysis:
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:
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Oryx and Crake PDF

Inside Symbol Timeline in Oryx and Crake

The timeline below shows where the symbol Inside 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
The State of Human Relationships Theme Icon
History, Language & the Humanities Theme Icon
...explain to him what a disease does, how it attacks the cells and changes things inside you—and that if enough cells are infected, the disease takes over. Jimmy doesn’t understand right... (full context)
Corporate Power & Commodification Theme Icon
...outside, to a city, and has heard that the cities are dirty and dangerous. People within the compounds refer to cities and their surrounding areas as “the pleeblands.” Jimmy’s father likes... (full context)