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Oryx and Crake

Margaret Atwood
  • Study Guide
Summary

Chapter 12

Summary Chapter 12

Inside the Paradice facility, Crake revealed the second major project he and his team were working on. He led Jimmy to a two-way mirror that looked in on a large, enclosed space with plants, trees, and a domed bubble “sky.” Inside the enclosure, Jimmy saw a group of perfectly formed naked people: the Children of Crake.

Later that evening, Crake explained how he had been working on these genetically enhanced humans for the past seven years. Crake had programmed them to die suddenly at the age of thirty. He reasoned that if he could take away the foreknowledge and fear of death, the result would be a kind of immortality. Crake also explained that the individuals in the enclosure were “floor models” with an extensive range of genetically optimized characteristics, and that part of his plan was to make each of these characteristics available to parents who wanted genetic enhancements for their children.

Analysis: Chapter 12

In the first half of chapter 12, Crake comes to look more and more like a kind of savior. First, the reader learns that he saved Jimmy from his spiraling depression and his dead-end job at AnooYoo. In doing this, Crake reprises the role he played when he and Jimmy were boys. Just as his friendship helped Jimmy through the difficult period after his mother ran away, so too did his sudden appearance at Jimmy’s door save him from despair following the news of his mother’s execution. Later on in the chapter, the reader learns that Crake had also used the significant resources available to him to track down all of the other Extinctathon Grandmasters and convince them to work for him at Paradice. Here again Crake acts like a savior since all of those people were in trouble with the authorities for their years of involvement in bioterrorism.

Crake’s savior-like appearance has an important link to the symbolism of his Paradice facility. Though spelled differently, as if to suggest a game of chance played with a pair of dice, “Paradice” references the biblical Paradise, where God placed the first humans, Adam and Eve. As the head authority in control of the Paradice facility, Crake symbolically positioned himself not just as a savior but as a God figure. However, the full extent of Crake’s God complex only becomes clear in the context of the two-phase plan he developed. The first phase involved the distribution of the BlyssPluss pill to put a stop to human reproduction. The second phase involved introducing a new breed of genetically enhanced humans that could replace the existing human population, which at that point would have stopped growing. In other words, Crake has, like God, created his own version of Paradise, populated with representatives of a new and improved human race.

This chapter also shows the extreme extent to which Crake has pushed his earlier theory about sexual competition. Recall that in chapter 7, Crake explained to Jimmy his theory that sexual competition represented both a waste of energy and the primary source of aggression among humans. BlyssPluss represents Crake’s response to the problem of sexual competition. If he could keep the general population feeling young, enjoying a healthy libido, and safe from sexually transmitted diseases, then, theoretically, everyone would have a happy sex life without the need for aggressive, competitive behavior. That said, Crake clearly did not believe in the ability of BlyssPluss to achieve his goal on its own since the pill also covertly sterilized its user, thereby preventing reproduction. Crake’s desire to revise human courtship behavior while simultaneously putting an end to human reproduction demonstrates an extreme moral impertinence that is in line with his sociopathic personality traits, which have appeared throughout the novel.

A deep irony persists in all of Crake’s theories, an irony that Crake himself didn’t appear to notice, and which Snowman only recognized with regard to how Crake, the staunch atheist, played God. Thus far, the novel has staged a competition between the sciences and the humanities, a competition channeled through the relationship between Crake and Jimmy. Whereas Crake and his rise to power demonstrate the high value placed on scientific research, Jimmy’s mediocre advertising career shows the relatively poor value society places on humanities-based skills. And yet, this chapter shows that for all that Crake abides by scientific rationalism, the details of his experiments have all hinged not on scientific principles but on philosophical perspectives of human society and the human condition. Consider Crake’s theory of immortality. For him, achieving immortality was not primarily a scientific goal. He made this clear when he indicated that other scientists were close to discovering how to prolong life indefinitely. By contrast, Crake took a fundamentally philosophical approach to immortality in which it wasn’t death that needed to be banished but the fear of death. Considering Crake’s identification with the sciences, his philosophical solution to the question of immortality is deeply ironic.