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Oryx and Crake

Margaret Atwood
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Summary

Chapter 13

Summary Chapter 13

Jimmy went into the enclosure to meet the Crakers, where he introduced himself as “Snowman.” He informed the Crakers that Oryx had gone away and that Crake had sent him in her stead. Jimmy also explained that Oryx and Crake wanted them to go to a better place where there would be more food. The Crakers asked Snowman about his clothes and his facial hair, and he skillfully made up stories about both. He enjoyed his own ability to dance “gracefully around the truth.”

Snowman planned a route out of Paradice, through the Compound, and toward the ocean. Along the way the group encountered several desperate people who were clearly infected. Snowman shot each one with a spraygun, and he explained to the Crakers that the infected people were pieces of “a bad dream that Crake is dreaming.”

By evening, they came to the ocean, and Snowman informed the Crakers that they had arrived at their new home.

Analysis: Chapter 13

Jimmy’s decision to change his name to Snowman signals an important moment of self-transformation, one that the reader has been waiting for since the beginning of the novel. Up until this moment, the narrative has shifted back and forth between Snowman and Jimmy, creating the illusion that the two men are different people. Thus, the moment Jimmy walked into the Paradice bubble and introduced himself to the Children of Crake as Snowman marks both a symbolic point in the character’s development as well as a significant moment in the plot. With regard to character development, the adoption of a new name indicates self-determination. “Jimmy” had felt powerless in the face of his father’s disappointment and his mother’s abandonment, and he always played second fiddle to Crake. While working at Paradice, Crake tried to revive Jimmy’s old Extinctathon codename, “Thickney.” However, Jimmy never identified with this name, partly because he never excelled at Extinctathon, and partly because he didn’t choose the name himself. When Jimmy takes the name Snowman, it is a self-directed act of transformation. His new name allows him to adopt a new persona, one perhaps better suited for life in a devastated world.

The Crakers’ exit from Paradice at once echoes and reverses the meaning of the biblical story of Paradise lost. In the Bible, God expels Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden for disobeying his order not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge. For this reason, their departure from Paradise is bound up with notions of exile and sin. In the case of the Children of Crake, however, their departure from Paradice does not represent a form of exile or punishment. In fact, Oryx had taught them about plants and animals specifically to prepare them for life in the outside world. Furthermore, the Crakers’ departure was not linked to any sin on their part, but rather to the sin of their father and creator, Crake, the God-like man who made Paradice and placed them there in the first place. Unlike Adam and Eve, who had grown self-conscious of their bodies upon their ejection from the Garden and tried to cover themselves with foliage, the Crakers remained perfectly unaware of their nakedness as they forged into their new world. In other words, they left Paradice with their innocence fully intact.

To add to the religious imagery implied by the name “Paradice,” Jimmy, now renamed Snowman, takes on the symbolic role of a prophet shepherding his people across the desert to the promised land—that is, through No Man’s Land and toward their new home by the ocean. Snowman also plays the role of prophet in the sense that he teaches his flock of followers what they need to know to survive. Already in his first meeting with the Crakers, Snowman began to spin fictions that attempted to help the naïve and sheltered tribe make sense of a complex, chaotic, and confusing world. The stories he invented formed the beginnings of a new mythology that, as the reader learned way back in chapter 5, has since become increasingly complicated and detailed. Snowman is admittedly an improbable shepherd, and though he’s quite cavalier about telling the Crakers’ made-up tales, he has nonetheless taken his responsibility for them seriously.