Oryx and Crake: Important quotes with page
1. “The rewards in the case of success would be enormous, Jimmy’s father explained, doing the straight-talking man-to-man act he had recently adopted with Jimmy. What well-to-do and once-young, once-beautiful woman or man, cranked up on hormonal supplements and shot full of vitamins but hampered by the unforgiving mirror, wouldn’t sell their house, their gated retirement villa, their kids, and their soul to get a second kick at the sexual can? NooSkins for Olds, said the snappy logo. ” (Chapter 4, p. 55) Jimmy’s father works for a company that caters to an ongoing of the human race: the desire for youth and beauty.
Mirroring claims made by the beauty and plastic surgery industries, NooSkins preys on consumers’ desperation (and money) by claiming that they can offer a second chance thanks to a range of hormones and vitamins.
2. “‘Be that as it may,’ she said – a sign that she wasn’t going to give in. ‘Be that as it may, there’s research and there’s research. What you’re doing – this pig brain thing. You’re interfering with the building blocks of life. It’s immoral. It’s . . . sacrilegious. ’” (Chapter 4, p. 57) Genetic engineering was and is a controversial subject, and this is highlighted by Jimmy’s mother.
She has become increasingly disillusioned with her life and marriage, and she does not approve of the kind of research and experimentation with which her husband has become involved. When he defends his work, she argues that it is immoral and sacrilegious. This statement thus not only reiterates the strained relationship between Jimmy’s parents but poses a moral and religious question to the reader.
3. “‘Hang on to the words,’ he tells himself. The odd words, the old words, the rare ones. Valance. Norn. Serendipity. Pibroch. Lubricious. When they’re gone out of his head, these words, they’ll be gone, everywhere, forever. As if they had never been. ” (Chapter 4, p. 68)
Snowman often finds himself thinking of words that he remembers from his past life. While he finds it upsetting to think of his past in some ways, he feels that he alone is keeping it alive, in particular, through his memories of words. Were he to forget these words, it would be as though they never existed. Also, as this passage shows, he finds words that are old or unusual especially worthy of preservation due to their rarity.
4. “Snowman has trouble thinking of Crake as Glenn, so thoroughly has Crake’s later persona blotted out his earlier one. The Crake side of him must have been there from the beginning, thinks Snowman: there was never any real Glenn, Glenn was only a disguise. So in Snowman’s reruns of the story, Crake is never Glenn, and never Glenn-alias-Crake or Crake/Glenn, or Glenn, later Crake. He is always just Crake, pure and simple. ” (Chapter, 4 pp. 70-71)
Whereas the narrator creates a clear division between his past identity as Jimmy and current identity as Snowman, he does not feel able to make such a division with regard to Crake. Jimmy has deliberately created a new identity to try to deal with the magnitude of what has happened to him. However, looking back, the “Crake side” of Crake was always there. If anything, it was Crake’s “real” identity as Glenn that seemed false.
5. “When did the body first set out on its own adventures? Snowman thinks; after having ditched its old travelling companions, the mind and the soul, for whom it had once been considered a mere corrupt vessel or else a puppet acting out their dramas for them, or else bad company, leading the other two astray. It must have got tired of the soul’s constant nagging and whining and the anxietydriven intellectual web-spinning of the mind, distracting it whenever it was getting its teeth into something juicy or its fingers into something good . . . But the body had its own cultural forms. It had its own art.
Executions were its tragedies, pornography was its romance. ” (Chapter 4, p. 85) Taking on a philosophical mindset, Snowman ponders when the body became detached from the mind and soul. At some point, the latter components had come to be seen not as fundamental to humanity but as burdens. Likewise, ethics gave way to corruption, exploitation, competitiveness, and voyeurism.
Snowman reflects that the body still exists and has its own cultural forms, but, now, these are expressed via the executions and pornography that Jimmy and Crake watch routinely.
6. “Jimmy felt burned by this look – eaten into, as if by acid. She’d been so contemptuous of him. The joint he’d been smoking must have had nothing in it but lawn mowings: if it had been stronger he might have been able to bypass guilt. But for the first time he’d felt that what they’d been doing was wrong. Before, it had always been entertainment, or else far beyond his control, but now he felt culpable.
At the same time he felt hooked through the gills: if he’d been offered instant teleportation to wherever Oryx was he’d have taken it, no question. ” (Chapter 5, p. 91) This quote emphasizes not only the voyeurism involved in Crake’s and Jimmy’s viewing habits but Jimmy’s realization of his complicity in this. When the people he was watching did not seem real to him, he did not feel guilt. Oryx’s contemptuous look, however, gives him a sense of responsibility. Even so, he is captivated by the then-unknown girl in this video.
7. “Maybe this is the reason that these women arouse in Snowman not even the faintest stirrings of lust. It was the thumbprints of human imperfection that used to move him, the flaws in the design: the lopsided smile, the wart next to the navel, the mole, the bruise. ” (Chapter 5, p. 100) In contrast to Crake’s desire for perfection, Snowman feels a nostalgic fondness for human flaws. The female Crakers may be technically perfect, but they seem alien to him and do not arouse any desire. This quote thus suggests the appeal of imperfection.
8. “Jimmy found that his face got redder and his voice got squeakier the more outrageous Crake became. He hated that. ‘When any civilization is dust and ashes,’ he said, ‘art is all that’s left over. Images, words, music. Imaginative structures. Meaning – human meaning, that is – is defined by them. You have to admit that. ’ ‘That’s not quite all that’s left over,’ said Crake. ‘The archaeologists are just as interested in gnawed bones and old bricks and ossified shit these days.
Sometimes more interested. They think human meaning is defined by those things too. ’” (Chapter 7, p. 167) This exchange highlights the different mindsets of Jimmy vs. Crake. Here, Jimmy argues for the validity of art and imagination.
He sees these factors as constituting the core of humanity, with art being all that remains when a civilization has crumbled. However, Crake is more practical and scientific in his mindset, pointing out that objects and human remains are just as interesting to archaeologists. Also, this passage shows that Jimmy is more prone to becoming emotional during dialogue with his friend, whereas Crake remains composed and impassive.
9. “He memorized these hoary locutions, tossed them left-handed into conversation: wheelwright, lodestone, saturnine, adamant. He’d developed a strangely tender feeling towards such words, as if they were children abandoned in the woods and it was his duty to rescue them. ” (Chapter 8, p. 195) Even before he became Snowman, Jimmy had an affinity for words. Unlike Crake, Jimmy did not excel at science nor attend a prestigious college. That is why he feels such affection for old-fashioned words that are unlikely to be heard in contemporary texts or day-to-day conversation.
10. “‘Those walls and bars are there for a reason,’ said Crake. ‘Not to keep us out, but to keep them in. Mankind needs barriers in both cases. ’ ‘Them? ’ ‘Nature and God. ’ ‘I thought you didn’t believe in God,’ said Jimmy. ‘I don’t believe in Nature, either,’ said Crake. ‘Or not with a capital N. ’” (Chapter 8, p. 206) This is a particularly significant statement that Crake voices when discussing the creation of the wolvogs. These animals are kept in a secure environment due to their savagery, but, for Crake, the need for barriers goes beyond keeping the wolvogs in check. He believes that nature needs to be contained by a barrier that cordons it off from humanity.
One could question whether genetically engineered creatures such as the wolvogs—or Crakers—constitute nature, but Crake explains this by stating that, not only does he not believe in religion, he does not believe in nature “with a capital N. ” Paradoxically, he does not believe in nature that is truly natural, as he sees it as flawed. This is why he wants to genetically engineer beings that embody his idea of how nature should work.
11. “Jimmy had a cold feeling, a feeling that reminded him of the time his mother had left home: the same sense of the forbidden, of a door swinging open that ought to be kept locked, of a stream of secret lives, running underground, in the darkness just beneath his feet. ‘What was all that about? ’” he said. It might not be about anything, he told himself. It might be about Crake showing off.
It might be an elaborate setup, an invention of Crake’s, a practical joke to frighten him. ” (Chapter 8, p. 216) After Crake has introduced him to the Extinctathon playroom, Jimmy feels uneasy about all the secrecy and bulletins about manmade viruses. He does not fully understand what is going on but it seems that Crake is becoming involved in something serious—Extinctathon no ordinary computer game.
12. “So Crake never remembered his dreams. It’s Snowman that remembers them instead. Worse than remembers: he’s immersed in them, he’d wading through them, he’s stuck in them. Every moment he’s lived in the past few months was dreamed first by Crake. No wonder Crake screamed so much. ” (Chapter 8, p. 218)
While staying with Crake at Watson-Crick, Jimmy is unnerved to hear screams during the night. Crake initially denies that he has dreams, but he admits that he must have dreams but does not recall them. Unfortunately for Snowman, he is the one that has inherited these bad dreams. What is more, he feels that he is living them out every day. His existence is something that has been dreamt up by Crake, and Snowman now knows that the screaming was warranted.
13. “‘All it takes,’ said Crake, ‘is the elimination of one generation. One generation of anything. Beetles, trees, microbes, scientists, speakers of French, whatever. Break the link in time between one generation and the next, and it’s game over forever. ’” (Chapter 9, p. 223) This is one of the statements that, in hindsight, provide clear indication of Crake’s plan. It might not be that Crake had formulated it in its entirety at that point, but he knew what it would take to achieve his end goal. As he explains, the extinction of one generation is sufficient to wipe the slate clean and allow a new start, which foreshadows his own destruction of the human race and creation of the Children of Crake.
14. “Night falls. He lies down on one of the cots in the bedroom, the bed that’s made. Where I’m lying now, a dead man used to sleep, he thinks. He never saw it coming. He had no clue. Unlike Jimmy, who’d had clues, who ought to have seen but didn’t. If I’d killed Crake earlier, thinks Snowman, would it have made any difference? ” (Chapter 11, p. 276)
When he takes refuge in one of RejoovenEsense’s security watchtowers, Snowman lies down and reflects that the former occupant of this bed had no idea about what Crake was planning. Security was kept out of the loop, and even the engineers working on the Paradice project did not know the full story. Jimmy, however, was Crake’s best and most trusted friend, and Snowman now realizes that there had been clues that he had not noticed at the time. He consequently wonders what would have happened if he had noticed them and had killed Crake earlier.
15. “‘It’s not altruism exactly,’ said Crake. ‘More like sink or swim. I’ve seen the latest confidential Corps demographic reports. As a species we’re in deep trouble, worse than anyone’s saying. They’re afraid to release the stats because people might just give up, but take it from me, we’re running out of space-time. Demand for resources has exceeded supply for decades in marginal geopolitical areas, hence the famines and droughts; but very soon, demand is going to exceed supply for everyone. With the BlyssPluss Pill the human race will have a better chance of swimming. ’” (Chapter 12, pp. 294-295) When discussing the BlyssPluss pill and how it will benefit humanity, Jimmy remarks that he had not imagined Crake to be so altruistic.
However, Crake explains that there is more to it than that, as the human population has reached a crisis point and urgent action needs to be taken. Due to overpopulation and dwindling resources, supply will not be able to keep up with demand. Crake claims that the pill will rectify this situation but, at this point, does not reveal the truth of how it will do so.
16. “Each of the staff had a name tag with block lettering – one or two words only. BLACK RHINO. WHITE SEDGE. IVORY-BILLED WOODPECKER. POLAR BEAR. INDIAN TIGER. LOTIS BLUE. SWIFT FOX. ‘The names,’ he said to Crake. ‘You raided Extinctathon! ’ ‘It’s more than the names,’ said Crake. ‘These people are Extinctathon. They’re all Grandmasters. What you’re looking at is MaddAddam, the cream of the crop. ’ ‘You’re joking!
How come they’re here? ’ said Jimmy. ‘They’re the splice geniuses,’ said Crake. ‘The ones that were pulling those capers, the asphalt-eating microbes, the outbreak of neon-coloured herpes simplex on the west coast, the ChickieNob wasps and so on. ’” (Chapter 12, p. 298)
When he sees the staff at RejoovenEsense, Jimmy notices that their nametags feature monikers that he remembers from Extinctathon. Crake then reveals that he has not simply lifted the names; the staff members are the individuals that he had encountered through the secret Extinctathon playroom and are geniuses in their field. Those diseases that were reported in the bulletins were the work of these engineers, and Crake thus sought them out for his project.
17. “Crake explained about the rapid-growth factors he’d incorporated. ‘Also,’ he said, ‘they’re programmed to drop dead at age thirty – suddenly, without getting sick. No old age, none of those anxieties. They’ll just keel over. Not that they know it; none of them has died yet. ’ ‘I thought you were working on immortality.’ ‘Immortality,’ said Crake, ‘is a concept.
If you take “mortality” as being, not death, but the foreknowledge of it and the fear of it, then “immortality” is the absence of such fear. Babies are immortal. Edit out the fear, and you’ll be . . . ’” (Chapter 12, p. 303) When Crake says that he has programmed the Crakers to drop dead painlessly at the age of 30, Jimmy is confused by this, as Crake had previously said that he was working on a way to achieve immortality. Crake, however, explains that he does not mean immortality in a literal sense but rather the absence of the fear of death. Were people to lack this fear, then, in Crake’s eyes, they will be “immortal. ”
18. “There were signs, Snowman thinks. There were signs and I missed them. For instance, Crake said once, ‘Would you kill someone you loved to spare them pain? ’ ‘You mean, commit euthanasia? ’ said Jimmy. ‘Like putting down your pet turtle? ’ ‘Just tell me,’ said Crake. ‘I don’t know. What kind of love, what kind of pain? ’ Crake changed the subject. ” (Chapter 12, p. 320) Looking back on the clues regarding Crake’s plans, Jimmy remembers Crake having posed ethical dilemmas such as the above question.
This had seemed an abstract issue to Jimmy, who had not understood why Crake was asking him such things. When Jimmy pursued the issue, Crake changed the subject. Clearly, then, Crake did not want to tell Jimmy why he was pursuing this line of questioning. Jimmy only finds out the truth after Crake has put his plan into motion.
19. “‘These people are specialists,’ said Crake. ‘They wouldn’t have the empathy to deal with the Paradice models, they wouldn’t be any good at it, they’d get impatient. Even I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t begin to get onto their wavelength.
But you’re more of a generalist.’ ‘Meaning? ’ ‘You have a great ability to sit around not doing much of anything. Just like them. ’ ‘Thanks,’ said Jimmy. ‘No, I’m serious. I want – I’d want it to be you. ’ ‘What about Oryx? ’ said Jimmy. ‘She knows the Crakers a lot better than I do. ’ Jimmy and Oryx said Crakers, but Crake never did. ‘If I’m not around, Oryx won’t be either,’ said Crake. ‘She’ll commit suttee? No shit! Immolate herself on your funeral pyre? ’ ‘Something like that’ said Crake, grinning. Which at the time Jimmy had taken both as a joke and also as a symptom of Crake’s truly colossal ego. ” (Chapter 12, p. 321)
This is a crucial exchange, as it explains why Crake chose Jimmy to take charge of the Paradice project following his own demise. Jimmy would seem like an odd choice for this role due to his lack of scientific knowledge or closeness to the project itself. Crake, however, singles out Jimmy’s empathy as a vital quality and believes that Jimmy shares an affinity with the “Crakers. ” This passage also hints at Oryx’s death, with Crake stating that, should he no longer be around, Oryx would no longer be around either. At the time, though, Jimmy did not understand the ramifications and seriousness of this exchange.
20. “He stood back and to the side. All the hairs on his arms were standing up. We understand more than we know. The door swung open. Crake’s beige tropicals were splattered with redbrown. In his right hand was an ordinary storeroom jackknife, the kind with the two blades and the nail file and the corkscrew and the little scissors. He had his other arm around Oryx, who seemed to be asleep; her face was against Crake’s chest, her long pink-ribboned braid hung down her back. As Jimmy watched, frozen with disbelief, Crake let Oryx fall backwards, over his left arm. He looked at Jimmy, a direct look, unsmiling.
‘I’m counting on you,’ he said. Then he slit her throat. Jimmy shot him. ” (Chapter 12, p. 328) This is one of the most pivotal and dramatic moments in the novel, not least because Crake’s murder of Oryx and Jimmy’s murder of Crake happen in quick succession. Before opening the door to Crake, who appears bedraggled and splattered with blood, Jimmy thinks of one of Crake’s old phrases that now carries a greater and clearer meaning. Jimmy knows what Crake has done, though he is shocked by the sight of Oryx, seemingly asleep and being propped up by Crake.
When Crake slits Oryx’s throat, Jimmy shoots him instantly and it seems that this series of events was engineered by Crake: he had said that, were he no longer around, Oryx would not be around either. He had also posed a question about assisted suicide to Jimmy. A likely conclusion is that Crake exploited Jimmy’s feelings for Oryx, knowing that killing her would lead Jimmy to retaliate and be left as the lone overseer of the children of Crake.
21. “‘I don’t believe it, I don’t believe it,’ he’d say. He’d begun talking to himself out loud, a bad sign. ‘It isn’t happening. ’ How could he exist in this clean, dry, monotonous, ordinary room, gobbling caramel soycorn and zucchini cheese puffs and addling his brain on spirituous liquors and brooding on the total fiasco that was his personal life, while the entire human race was kakking out? ” (Chapter 13, p. 343)
As he remains closed off from the mayhem going on in the wider world, there is little Jimmy can do but wait it out. He is conscious that he is in a bizarre situation, eating snacks and getting drunk in an attempt to deal with the knowledge that the human race is facing imminent extinction. In the absence of any real human contact, he has started talking to himself, something that will soon become a common occurrence.
22. “Site after site, channel after channel went dead. A couple of the anchors, news jocks to the end, set the cameras to film their own deaths – the screams, the dissolving skins, the ruptured eyeballs and all. How theatrical, thought Jimmy. Nothing some people won’t do to get on TV. ‘You cynical shit,’ he told himself. Then he started to weep. ” (Chapter 13, p. 344) The voyeuristic videos that Jimmy and Crake routinely watch reach their apex here. Soon, there will no longer be any television broadcasts, and some news anchors decide to go out with a bang by filming their own deaths in all their gory detail.
Jimmy thinks of the old saying that some people will do anything to get on TV, but he is upset by his own cynicism. After all, Crake used to chide him for his sympathetic nature and appointed him overseer of the Paradice project due to his empathy.
23. “Snowman crumples the sheets up, drops them onto the floor. It’s the fate of these words to be eaten by beetles. He could have mentioned the change in Crake’s fridge magnets. You could tell a lot about a person from their fridge magnets, not that he’d thought much about them at the time. ” (Chapter 13, p. 347) At both Watson-Crick and RejoovenEsense, Crake displayed various fridge magnets.
As with all the clues, Jimmy had not thought much of them at the time. However, in retrospect, he can see the changes in Crake’s thought processes reflected in the magnets, which shifted from scientific quips to more philosophical statements on religion and humanity.
24. “Images from old history flip through his head, sidebars from Blood and Roses: Ghenghis Khan’s skull pile, the heaps of shoes and eyeglasses from Dachau, the burning corpse-filled churches in Rwanda, the sack of Jerusalem by the Crusaders. The Arawak Indians, welcoming Christopher Columbus with garlands and gifts of fruit, smiling with delight, soon to be massacred, or tied up beneath the beds upon which their women were being raped. But why imagine the worst? Maybe these people have been frightened off, maybe they’ll have moved elsewhere. Maybe they’re ill and dying. Or maybe not. ” (Chapter 14, p. 366)
Snowman is startled and excited when he finds that there are other surviving humans. However, he becomes anxious when he wonders how they will react to the Crakers, thinking of historical precedents in which innocents were massacred. Still, he tells himself that there is no just cause to imagine the worst, and that it is possible that these few survivors might have moved elsewhere. On the other hand, he cannot put aside the knowledge that there may well be other human beings alive and in the nearby vicinity.
25. “He takes a few deep breaths, scans the ground below for wildlife, makes his way down from the tree, setting his good foot on the ground first. He checks the inside of his hat, flicks out an ant. Can a single ant be said to be alive, in any meaningful sense of the word, or does it only have relevance in terms of its anthill? An old conundrum of Crake’s. ” (Chapter 15, p. 371)
One of the philosophical dilemmas that Crake used to pose relates to the individual and their relationship with others. Does an ant only gain relevance in its anthill or is it alive even in isolation? Prior to discovering other human survivors at the end of the novel, Snowman finds himself akin to an ant and struggles with his isolated existence. He has a purpose in the sense that he has been appointed the overseer of the Crakers. However, he cannot relate to them and is conscious that, were he to die, no one would mourn for him. There is thus a clash between his usefulness in a technical sense and his feeling of loneliness.