Oryx and Crake


Margaret Atwood

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Corporate Power & Commodification Theme Analysis

Themes and Colors
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
Extinction & Evolution Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Oryx and Crake, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Corporate Power & Commodification Theme Icon

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 Francisco) and Compounds that belong exclusively to corporations (Anooyoo, HealthWyzer, etc). There is no law and order outside of the compounds—and the corporations’ security enforcement services (the CorpSeCorp men) protect corporate interests over individual interests. And the only interest of the corporations is profit.

As a result, in a world controlled by profit-seeking corporations, everything has been commodified. Everything is for sale, and, absent any moral considerations or concerns, the corporations freely exploit people’s insecurities and weaknesses to sell sex, beauty, health, and the promise of happiness. Even more grotesquely, in order to preserve their high profits, health companies have even taken to manufacturing and releasing diseases in order to profit off their cures. This is as much an abuse of corporate power as it is an abuse of advanced scientific knowledge. In addition, just as health beauty, and happiness have a sale value, depravity, evil, and violence have entertainment value, and are thus similarly commodified. Executions, suicide, child pornography, animal snuff videos—all have become televised, with their very own channels.

This portrayal of corporate power and commodification in the novel comments on the current rising influence of corporations and their money in the early 21st century and values not only with respect to consumer culture but also with respect to influencing public policy and elections. The Compounds (and their associated organizations) serve as a critique of hyper-commodification and corporate supremacy in our own increasingly consumer- and entertainment-driven culture.

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Corporate Power & Commodification ThemeTracker

The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Corporate Power & Commodification appears in each chapter of Oryx and Crake. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
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Corporate Power & Commodification Quotes in Oryx and Crake

Below you will find the important quotes in Oryx and Crake related to the theme of Corporate Power & Commodification.
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:

He thought of pigoons as creatures much like himself. Neither he nor they had a lot of say in what was going on.

Related Characters: Jimmy (Snowman)
Page Number: 24
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 3 Quotes

Strange to think of the endless labor, the digging, the hammering, the carving, the lifting, the drilling, day by day, year by year, century by century; and now the endless crumbling that must be going on everywhere. Sandcastles in the wind.

Related Characters: Jimmy (Snowman)
Page Number: 45
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 4 Quotes

There’d been a lot of fooling around in those days: create-an-animal was so much fun, said the guys doing it. It made you feel like God.

Related Characters: Jimmy’s father
Page Number: 51
Explanation and Analysis:

“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:
Chapter 6 Quotes

But love was undependable, it came and then it went, so it was good to have a money value, because then at least those who wanted to make a profit from you would make sure you were fed enough and not damaged too much.

Related Characters: Oryx
Page Number: 126
Explanation and Analysis:
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 9 Quotes

The striped-pyjamas guy upstairs must have been a word person, then: a RejoovenEsense speechwriter, an ideological plumber, a spin doctor, a hairsplitter for hire. Poor bugger, thinks Snowman.

Related Characters: Jimmy (Snowman)
Page Number: 233
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 12 Quotes

“People come here from all over the world—they shop around. Gender, sexual orientation, height, colour of skin and eyes—it’s all on order, it can all be done or redone.”

Related Characters: Crake (speaker), Jimmy (Snowman)
Page Number: 289
Explanation and Analysis: