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Oryx and Crake

Margaret Atwood
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Summary

Chapter 11

Summary Chapter 11

Summary: Chapter 11

Snowman has a dream of himself as a child waiting for his mother to come. Snowman wakes up in the gatehouse, but he can’t tell how much time has passed since he fell asleep. He hears a scraping sound coming from a hole in the corner where a large crab is scrounging in the rubble.

Snowman sets out from the gatehouse, but three blocks away he comes upon the pigoons from the previous day. Snowman hurries back to the gatehouse, and, knowing the pigoons will be able to nose their way in, he retreats into another room where he finds a door leading to a stairwell. He scrambles up the stairs just as the pigoons force their way into the gatehouse. The pigoons can’t follow him up the stairs.

Upstairs Snowman finds himself in one of the two watchtowers that flank the gatehouse. There are no bodies up there, which makes Snowman suspect that the guards fled the premises like everyone else, attempting to avoid the contagion. He suspects that the men in the biosuits downstairs may have been the guards.

Snowman finds a variety of supplies in the watchtower, including a pack of cigarettes, some food, and two bottles of beer. He also finds a windup radio. He searches the AM and FM bands but hears nothing. He switches to the short-wave radio and hears a voice speaking in Russian. He switches again to the CB radio to see if he can find a local transmission. He turns the radio dial to the receive function, and the voice of a man asking “Anyone out there?” comes in faintly. Snowman tries to respond, and though he has second thoughts about his haste to reply, he nevertheless feels elated by the idea of other survivors like himself.

Snowman notices a cut on his foot and tries to clean the wound with expired antibiotic ointment. Afterwards, he lies down on a cot. He thinks about how a dead man used sleep there and how that man couldn’t have known what was coming. By contrast, Snowman thinks, Jimmy did have clues but failed to read the signs. Even so, Snowman wonders whether it would have made any difference if he had killed Crake sooner.

The next day he eats, packs a laundry bag with supplies, and escapes from the watchtower onto the twelve-foot-high rampart wall surrounding the Compound. He hurries along the rampart wall toward his next destination, the domed structure known as Paradice. Along the way Snowman notices a trail of smoke in the distance. Snowman considers that the smoke might come from a fire started by lightning, or else by the Crakers, but he remains suspicious of either explanation. He eats a Joltbar and continues on his way.