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Oryx and Crake

Margaret Atwood
  • Study Guide
Characters

Crake

Characters Crake

Crake was Snowman’s best friend, a gifted scientist who eventually developed and released the catastrophic plague that ravaged the earth’s human population. Crake’s view of the world was coldly rational and fiercely atheistic. In addition to rejecting the idea of God, Crake also rejected the idea of capital-N “Nature,” a quasi-divine notion that he believed encouraged a false distinction between what is natural and what is unnatural. During his undergraduate education at the elite Watson-Crick Institute, Crake developed an interest in and extraordinary gift for transgenic research. In contrast to Snowman, who struggled to see genetically modified creatures as natural or “real,” Crake insisted that anything that could be imagined or created was real. Crake’s strictly scientific approach to the world also linked to his sociopathic personality, which allowed him to pursue his ambitious genetic research without concern for the moral implications of that research. Snowman believes that Crake played an important role in the deaths of his own mother and stepfather, which provides further evidence that Crake may have been a sociopath.

Yet despite Crake’s apparent sociopathic personality and his insistence on scientific rationalism, he remains all too human, afflicted by sexual desire, love, and maybe even jealousy—all of which he longed to eliminate from his new race of genetically enhanced humans. During his student days at Watson-Crick, Crake arranged sexual encounters through Student Services, and it was through one of these encounters that he met and fell in love with Oryx. His affection for Oryx led him to hire her as a member of the Paradice Project. At Paradice, Oryx started an affair with Snowman, and though Snowman worried that Crake would feel jealous, Oryx insisted that he was “too smart” for petty jealousy. Even so, Crake ended up slitting Oryx’s throat, and Snowman shot Crake in response. Though Snowman cannot be certain about Crake’s reasons for killing Oryx, he theorizes that jealousy may have played some role. If Snowman’s theory is correct, then Crake’s desire to create a new race of humans that doesn’t exhibit any sexual competition has a certain tragic irony to it, since it implies that Crake wanted to quash behaviors to which he himself felt susceptible.