A Reflection Of Modern Society In Oryx And Crake By Margaret Atwood

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 by Margaret Atwood takes different components of society in the present and escalates them to warn readers about the future. Oryx and Crake contains many excellent themes that reflect the current issues in society, and combine to present us with the overall theme of the dangers of scientific advancement with no limitations. One of the many themes that contribute to this is the dangerous outcomes of corporate entities being the ultimate authority. Pages 66 to 68 show multiple cases in which this theme is strikingly evident. One of the many themes that contribute to this is the inevitable modern trends of cultural numbness. Pages 106 to 108 show multiple cases in which this theme is strikingly evident. Oryx and Crake presents evident trends of cultural numbness in the modern world. This is a a key theme in the novel and a warning of our future because it is used as a literary tool to extrapolate elements of society, warning against modern trends. 

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Jimmy and Crake watch sites that stream videos of open-heart surgeries, and some that depict animal torture such as Felicia’s frog squash. They particularly enjoy watching online entertainment such as “brainfrizz.com”, “shortcircuit.com”, “deathrowlive.com”, “alibooboo.com” and “hedsoff.com”, which featured beheadings, the cutting of limbs, stonings, electrocutions, and lethal injections. Jimmy and Crake also enjoy watching “nitee-nite.com”, which features assisted suicides. In society today, violence in TV shows and video games is seen as the norm. For example, many people spend mind-numbing hours playing violent video games. Just like Atwood’s story, the real world is becoming numb to the pain and suffering of others. Jimmy likes the show “At Home with Anna K,” which features a naked performance artist reciting Shakespeare in her home. They also watched the noodie news, a news channel featuring nude news anchors, to the point where regular news seemed foreign to Jimmy. 

In society today, the hypersexualization of everything from media and entertainment to regular people is numbing humans subconsciously. Nudity and sex culture are featured everywhere now from music videos to billboards to TV shows and movies. It is almost shoved into our faces. Many people also suffer from pornography addiction, which Jimmy and Crake show signs of. In the novel, the dark side of humanity is packed and sold as entertainment. They go to a site called “HottTotts,” where they see Oryx. “… she didn’t have a name. She was just another little girl on a porno site”. She, along with two other children her age are seen performing sexual acts on an adult man. This part of the novel reflects a dark truth in humanity in which many children are being sold. Jimmy and Crake take advantage of this depraved content and spend whole afternoons watching it. They do this mindlessly and endlessly, never getting caught by Crake’s mother. “She believes in respecting a child’s privacy.” Their friendship is based on the shared experience, of degradation of humanity, instead of being based on humanity and honest connection. 

Atwood is predicting how humanity’s cultural numbness is escalating and only gets worse from here. In Oryx and Crake, Jimmy grows up in a future where corporations are the most powerful entities on earth. In this dystopia, there are no police. They are policed by the CorpSeCorps, which are privately owned security forces that work for the nearest corporate compound. This concept reflects the way employers invade privacy in real life such as monitoring employees’ computers, emails, and internet usage. Wealthy people with corporate jobs bear the means of affording the luxury of living in the sumptuous compounds. The compounds are surrounded by a broad expanse of slums, called the Pleeblands. This illustrates society today, as there are countless low income and even homeless families living in the shadows of wealthy mansion owners. In Oryx and Crake, the corporations profit of off the desire for physical perfection. “We give people Hope. Hope isn’t ripping off!”. “At Nooskins’ price it is. You hype your wares and take all their money, and then it’s no more treatments for them…Don’t you remember the way you used to talk?…you had ideals, then.” 

A true reflection of society today, the novel includes a desire for perfection which allows corporations, to tap into insecurities and profit off of them. In the novel, governments are vulnerable from the infrastructural depreciation of increasingly dire climate change, thus, happily accumulating responsibility to be handed over to the corporate entities. In turn, these businesses do even less to withstand the consequences of environmental destruction, unless they are able to profit off it. In society today, multinational companies are moving ahead of governments and even multiple countries in the quest for global power. They are also responsible for most global emissions, with not enough repercussions. Atwood’s concepts of corrupt corporations and security forces demonstrate the direction the world is headed in.  

16 December 2021

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