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Oryx and Crake

Margaret Atwood
  • Study Guide

Chapter 4

Summary Chapter 4

After some time Jimmy’s father began dating his colleague Ramona, and she moved in. Jimmy felt more alone and invisible than ever. Eventually, though, Ramona extended Jimmy an olive branch, and the two developed a cold but functional relationship.

In the present Snowman tells himself, “I am not my childhood,” and he instructs himself not to forget his collection of words.

The narrative then moves back to a few months before Jimmy’s mother left, when a boy named Crake started at HelthWyzer High School. (Crake’s real name was Glenn, but Snowman claims that he can only think of him as Crake.) Jimmy showed Crake around on his first day of school, and he felt intrigued by Crake’s quiet and mysterious air. The two quickly became friends, hanging out after school and playing a variety of games.

One of the games they played was called Blood and Roses, which weighed human atrocities against human achievements. Another game the boys played was Extinctathon, an online trivia game about extinct animal species monitored by a figure named MaddAddam. Crake became especially obsessed with this game, and he played under the codename “Crake,” after an extinct Australian bird, the Red-Necked Crake.

When not playing games, Jimmy and Crake explored the dark side of the internet, including sites that streamed live video of surgeries, animal torture, executions, assisted suicides, and graphic sexual acts. One afternoon the boys logged on to a site called HottTotts, which featured tourists filming themselves engaged in sex acts that would be illegal in their home countries.

The narrator then explains that the two boys first saw Oryx on this site in a video that featured three young girls licking whipped cream off the body of a man. One of the girls looked straight into the camera, and Jimmy felt like she was making eye contact with him. Moved by the experience, he froze the frame and printed a copy of the screenshot.