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Oryx and Crake

Margaret Atwood
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Summary

Chapter 8

Summary Chapter 8

Summary: Chapter 8

The narrative returns to when Jimmy and Crake graduated from HelthWyzer High and various universities participated in a Student Auction to bid on pupils they wanted to recruit. Whereas the prestigious Watson-Crick won Crake for a high price, the less prestigious Martha Graham Academy claimed Jimmy in a half-hearted bidding war. Jimmy’s father greeted the news with lukewarm praise. Ramona, who had since officially become Jimmy’s stepmother, was more exuberant with her approval. Even so, Jimmy hated her “new matronly air.”

Crake’s mother had died a month before Crake and Jimmy’s graduation. The circumstances of her death remained unclear, but somehow she’d come into contact with a dangerous “bioform” that quickly infected and killed her by dissolving her flesh. Crake had to watch her die, and, much to Jimmy’s dismay, Crake recounted the experience with more curiosity than horror.

In the summer after Jimmy and Crake graduated from high school, global tensions escalated over a genetically modified coffee bush produced by the Happicuppa coffee company. The new type of bush threatened to put small local farms out of business and consolidate the global coffee industry into a monopoly. One night, while watching the news, Jimmy spotted a glimpse of his mother in a crowd of activists protesting Happicuppa.

Crake noticed her too, and he tried to connect with Jimmy by recounting the story of how his father “buggered off” and fell off a pleebland overpass during rush hour. In contrast to the general opinion that he committed suicide, Crake remained suspicious about the circumstances of the event. In the present time Snowman scolds himself for having missed the underlying message of Crake’s story.

Jimmy began his studies at Martha Graham Academy, a fading school for the arts and humanities that he found disappointing. Although Jimmy thought it was “pleasant to contemplate” the arts and humanities, he recognized that they were “no longer central to anything.” He enrolled in a program called Problematics, which he believed would lead to a career in advertising.

At first Jimmy shared a dorm suite with a fundamentalist vegan named Bernice, who terrorized him for both his eating habits and his sexual activity. He complained to Student Services and moved to a new room, where he felt freer to pursue relationships with women.