Oryx And Crake Essays Topics

  • 1

    Discuss Jimmy's transformation into Snowman and relate it to the changes occurring in the world. How do the two trajectories intertwine throughout the course of the novel?

    The time and circumstances under which Jimmy became Snowman should be mentioned, i.e. upon meeting the Crakers the first time after the pandemic. The role of the pandemic in changing Jimmy's world should be addressed, as should the deaths of his best friend and lover. The increasing dependency on genetically spliced sources of food and medicine and the strengthening of the God's Gardener movement are also relevant to the shifts happening in the world.

  • 2

    There are various conceptions of reality presented throughout the book. Namely, Crake seems to believe that anything that can be thought of constitutes reality. Give specific examples of how this way of thinking is threaded through the book. Do you agree with Crake's way of viewing reality?

    The content of the various explicit websites, self-reproducing chicken parts, the identity of Oryx, genetically spliced animals, and the images projected by the drug companies all constitute examples of altered realities. Crake's long-thought development of the Crakers is the best-documented example of an intangible reality becoming tangible. Another example of an interpretation of reality occurs with the dissatisfaction of Jimmy's mother with Compound life, which she views as a disingenuous form of living.

  • 3

    Why does Snowman constantly utter string of words to himself? What might he be trying to achieve through such utterances? In addition, how does his penchant for these words relate to his role in the success of Crake's plan?

    Snowman's recital of archaic and advanced vocabulary words represents an attempt to preserve a dying language. Snowman believes he is the last human alive. As such, he thinks that as soon as he dies, the words will die as well. In an effort to evade this reality, he tries to hold on to as many words as he can. Part of Crake's plan was to eliminate reading and art. In a way, he has succeeded.

  • 4

    How does Snowman's invented mythology of the world compare to Crake's attempts at genetically reformulating the world? What are some of the parallels between Snowman's creation of myth and Crake's creation of idealized life?

    Snowman has to explain many things to the Crakers. They do not know anything about how they came to be or where they are. Snowman attempts to explain things using a mythology based around Crake, their creator, and Oryx, the creator and protector of animals. Although Crake did technically create the Crakers, he did not want them to idolize anyone or anything. In his attempts to preserve the lives of the Crakers, Snowman has undone some of what Crake aimed to achieve via genetic splicing.

  • 5

    Explain and discuss the differences between how the three main protagonists (i.e. Jimmy/Snowman, Crake, and Oryx) interpret the current state of the world.

    Crake is largely unsatisfied with the state of the world. He feels that many of its problems could be remedied with a complete genetic revamping of the human race. Oryx always sees the good in people, and she can largely be described as an optimist. Jimmy/Snowman starts out as relatively complacent but changes his opinions after the decimation of humanity by Crake's virus.

  • 6

    Provide at least two examples of anthropomorphism in Oryx and Crake. Explain how these instances of anthropomorphism shape the world portrayed in the book.

    The most prevalent example of anthropomorphism in the novel is that of the pigoons. They have been endowed with human cortical tissue as well as human organs. Because of these artificial additions, they have the ability to think on higher cognitive levels than most animals. These skills allow them to manipulate and deceive. The Crakers could also be considered another example. Their case is much murkier however because one could look at it either as humans being given various animal traits or animals being given human traits. The existence of the Crakers brings into question what really defines humanity. Genetics, experience, and compassion could all be possibilities.

  • 7

    Why do you think that Snowman is still affected by misery and death after having watched hours of explicit and vulgar events on the internet? What qualities does he possess that helps him maintain his sensitivity to suffering?

    Although Jimmy/Snowman has been exposed to many things over the course of his life, it appears that he never fully adapted to the presence of explicit violence. If anything, he tries to drown it out so that he does not have to concentrate on it. His skill in the art of avoidance is what partially helps him accomplish this task. Over time, repeated episodes of exposure to suffering weaken him. At the very end of the novel, he finds himself extremely hesitant about carrying out an act of violence in the name of protecting the Crakers.

  • 8

    Discuss the various reasons why God's Gardeners take issue with the products of the pharmaceutical companies presented in the novel.

    God's Gardeners think that the huge science/pharmaceutical companies are resulting in the disappearance of smaller farms. In addition, they take issue with the genetically modification of food and the use of animals as a source of human organ harvesting. In general, they are heavily anti-establishment and advocate for the voices of the individual in a corporation-driven world.

  • 9

    Discuss the ramifications of Crake's interpretation of immortality.

    Crake's interpretation of immortality, e.g. that he/she who does not fear death is immortal, stands apart from other, more common definitions as it remains highly implausible that the average person would be able to attain it. Moreover, by his interpretation, babies are immortal. He/she who lacks consciousness of his/her mortality is immortal. As such, every human begins as an immortal and becomes mortal through the process of education. Either a lack of cognitive of ability or a lack of education on the cycle of life would be necessary for immortality to be feasible. However, without these capacities, the degree of similarity to the average person would be severely lessened.

  • 10

    What parallels can you draw between the Jimmy's world and our world? You can include references to media, science, corporations, government, etc.

    Gene splicing and genetic modification of animals is a reality in our world. In addition, there are individuals who broadcast executions and other violent events online. Child pornography is a sad reality. Finally, large corporations, including pharmaceuticals, are strong players in the global economy.

  • Essay Topic 1

    In the first section of the novel, what can the reader assume about Snowman? What can the reader assume about the new species of humans? How does the truth compare with these assumptions?

    Essay Topic 2

    How do the pseudonyms presented become a motif in the novel? What do they tell us about the world Snowman lived in as a child and at the present?

    Essay Topic 3

    What role does foreshadowing play in Oryx and Crake? What indicators of foreshadowing are in the novel? What is foreshadowed early on in the novel?

    Essay Topic 4

    What is significant about Snowman's bonfire memory? What does Snowman think as a child when he sees the bonfire? Why is it significant to Snowman's current situation in the novel?

    Essay Topic 5

    How is suspense built in the novel? Provide at least three specific examples from the novel to make your point clear...

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