The protagonist of the novel. Snowman is the survivor of a global pandemic, who has been left in charge of a tribe of childlike, genetically enhanced humans that were created by his friend-turned-rival, Crake. Snowman feels lonely and morose as he struggles to survive in post-apocalyptic conditions, and he spends much of his time immersed in memories of his pre-apocalypse life, when his name was Jimmy.
Read an in-depth analysis of Snowman.
Snowman’s longtime friend and rival, and architect of the global pandemic. Crake, whose original name was Glenn, showed early promise in math and science and grew into a genius geneticist. Crake’s view of the world was coldly rational and fiercely atheistic, and he pursued ambitious but morally questionable genetic research that eventually led to billions of deaths and the genesis of a new breed of enhanced humans.
Read an in-depth analysis of Crake.
The mutual love interest of Snowman and Crake. Originally from a rural village somewhere in south or southeast Asia, Oryx was sold into slavery at a young age and spent much of her early life working in the sex industry. Despite the numerous traumas of her youth, Oryx retained an optimistic attitude, which made her an excellent teacher for Crake’s genetically modified humans.
Read an in-depth analysis of Oryx.
Snowman’s mother and a former microbiologist. After growing disenchanted with the work she was doing for OrganInc Farms, Sharon ran away from her job and family. Although Snowman only has glimpses of her life after she abandoned him, he knows she joined the activist group God’s Gardeners and participated in demonstrations against research involving genetic manipulation.
Unnamed. A genetic researcher at OrganInc Farms and, later, at HelthWyzer, Snowman’s father was an emotionally distant figure who frequently expressed cold disappointment about his son’s lack of intellectual ability in math and science. He fought frequently with his wife Sharon about the moral implications of his research, arguing that the research had practical benefits. After his wife ran away, he took up a relationship with his colleague, Ramona.
A colleague of Snowman’s father. Ramona worked with Snowman’s father at OrganInc Farms, and they transferred to HelthWyzer together. After Snowman’s mother ran away, Ramona started dating Snowman’s father and eventually married him. Ramona cared for Snowman like a mother, and though Snowman appreciated her kindness, he also resented it. Ramona continued to write to Snowman after he moved away, describing her failed attempts to have a child with his father.
Unnamed. Crake’s mother worked a lot and left her son to his own devices, though to Snowman it appeared that she didn’t care about Crake. Crake’s mother died a sudden, violent death after getting exposed to a mysterious virus. Crake witnessed her death, and Snowman later suspected that Crake had something to do with it.
Unnamed. Crake’s father worked for HelthWyzer, and he discovered that the company actively fabricated new diseases, which it distributed through vitamin pills. After Crake’s father threatened to leak what he knew to the media, the company executed him, but made it look like a suicide.
Crake’s stepfather. Uncle Pete worked for HelthWyzer, and he was the supervisor for the division where Crake’s father worked. He was a friend of the family, which is why Crake called him “uncle.” After Crake’s father died, Uncle Pete married Crake’s mother and became his stepfather. Crake disliked Uncle Pete, and Snowman later suspected that Crake was behind Uncle Pete’s sudden and mysterious death.
The businessman who first purchased Oryx. Uncle En bought children from the villages surrounding a major Asian city, then used those children in a variety of money-making schemes, such as selling flowers to tourists.
An American camera operator who worked in the child pornography industry. Jack befriended Oryx and taught her English in exchange for sexual favors.
Snowman’s college girlfriend. Amanda was a conceptual artist who made large-scale installations. She used animal parts to spell out words in open outdoor spaces, and she filmed the action when birds of prey descended to “vulturize” her sculptures.
Snowman’s freshman-year suite mate. Bernice was a hardcore vegan and feminist who terrorized Snowman for eating meat and for having an active sex life.
A tribe of genetically enhanced humans created by Crake. Also referred to as “Crakers,” the Children of Crake represent a new subspecies of Homo sapiens that Crake designed to eliminate sexual competition and aggression. Crake outfitted the Children of Crake with genetic and behavioral features drawn from a variety of other animals. These features enable them to survive in the post-apocalyptic world. Although they each have a name, Snowman has a hard time telling them apart due to a lack of distinguishing personality traits.
The budding leader of the Children of Crake. Though each of the Crakers has a name based on a historical figure, Abraham Lincoln is the only one Snowman recognizes, because he frequently speaks on the Crakers’ behalf. Crake wanted his new breed of humans to live in a nonhierarchical society that lacked leaders, and Snowman recognizes that Abraham Lincoln’s leader-like qualities go against Crake’s design.