Depiction Of The Flaws Of Society In Atwood’s Oryx And Crake

Civilization mainly refers to regulations and human achievements that try to ensure that man is protected from nature. There is much advancement in technology that ensures humans are heavily protected from nature. These advancements in technology have given humans power, and some people even feel like gods. Living in a society that is civilized entails following specific standards like hygiene, beauty and rules.

Oryx and Crake is a satirical and dystopic novel written by Margaret Atwood in 2003. The book is set at a time when the world experienced a biotechnological apocalypse. The main purpose of the novel is to highlight some of the flaws existing in society by showing a catastrophe that could come to pass in the near future.

The novel examines a situation where a virus is hidden in a sex pill and is responsible for causing many deaths. The virus is responsible for wiping the world’s population and Snowman, who is the protagonist, survives this catastrophe. Snowman thinks that he is the only survivor from the disaster. He complains about the death of the human race as he watches over a new species known as humanoids; believed to be genetically engineered by Snowman’s former friend, Crake.

Crake engineered the apocalypse and Oryx and Crake mainly tries to show us the events which resulted in the apocalypse. The main reason why Crake decides to wipe out the human race is to seek revenge against corrupt individuals who are responsible for killing his father. Crake believes that the world will be a far better place once the human race is destroyed. Atwood’s novel is thought to analyze some “qualitative human concerns”. The book highlights a tale believed to caution readers about the long-term effects of exploiting advancements in science and technology.

Snowman is also known as Jimmy in the novel and was a former friend of Crake during their childhood years. Crake and Jimmy used to view certain websites to watch porn, animal abuse and decapitations. This was their form of entertainment, but Jimmy didn’t enjoy them, terming this mode of entertainment as immoral. Crake, on the other hand, enjoyed them and “didn’t seem to be affected by anything they saw”. One day they came across a website where a tourist had intercourse with both children and women. This is where they saw Oryx, who was a victim of porn and was only eight years old. Jimmy is fascinated by her, and he can’t seem to get her out of his head. After the two friends graduate from high school, they still keep in touch, and they always visit each other. It is during one of these visits that Crake shows his friend some of the engineering projects that fascinate him. Jimmy is worried by some of these projects, and he feels that these projects cross a line that shouldn’t be crossed.

The two friends played a game known as Extinctathon, and it is during this game that Crake uses a picture of Oryx. This infuriates Jimmy since it reminds him of some of the flaws that exist in society. After they complete college, Jimmy learns that his mother was executed, and this makes him drown his sorrow in alcohol and watch porn. Crake goes to console his friend and administers him a vaccination before offering him a job.

Crake hires Oryx as his lab assistant, and her role is to distribute pharmaceutical products that contain a virus. Oryx is Crake’s lover, but the situation becomes more complicated when she starts having sex with Jimmy. Crake unleashes the deadly virus, but he spares Jimmy so that he can watch over the crakers. Jimmy assumes a new identity, Snowman and leads the crakers to safety. He tells the crakers that he has been sent to protect them by both Oryx and Crake. Jimmy tries to understand the reason why Crake decided to use his skills to wipe out humanity while also feeling guilty for the role he played in the process.

Atwood’s novel tries to portray a society that has some flaws and, in the process, led to the eradication of the human race. The creation of crakers by Crake is seen as a way of creating a new generation believed to be a utopic solution. Atwood’s book tries to combine dystopia, utopia and feminism with working and making the reader understand the main message. The novel also showcases the power struggle that exists between the two genders. The use of pornography in the book mainly shows a genre that is gender-specific and one that is obsessed with the female figure.

Jimmy and Crake are addicted to watching pornography as their form of entertainment. Pornography is believed to be an addiction that is supposed to arouse the viewers and also stimulates some chemical changes in the human body. Oryx and Crake show some of the adverse effects it can cause in the lives of the younger generation. Crake and Jimmy are unable to build real relationships with women when they grow up, highlighting the effects pornography has caused in their lives. The two friends also watched animal abuse, suicides and even live executions as their form of entertainment. This led to a situation where Jimmy was unable to make a distinction between violent scenes and sex scenes. “If you switched back and forth fast, it all came to look like the same event”.

Crake and Jimmy have reached a point where they’re unable to see a difference between what is real and what is pornography. They live in a society where nothing seems to be authentic. Meat is genetically manipulated, and people don’t want to look natural anymore. Crake and Jimmy see women as an object and believe that the primary goal of a woman is to be submissive to men, and their central role should be to satisfy the sexual needs of men.

After watching a lot of pornography, Crake believes that love and sex is a weakness for all humans and puts them at a disadvantage. He believes that loving someone makes you weak and increases the chances of oppression. Crake completely distances himself from love, making it difficult for him to have a genuine connection with women. As a student, he would hire prostitutes anytime he felt a sexual urge.

Crake believes science is more important than having a sincere connection with humans. Sex is just a distraction from his work and believes that sexual desires make people weak and fragile. Even after hiring Oryx, he still exploits her and views her as a prostitute. Sex is a form of entertainment to him and only needs it when he wants some distraction from science. Crake creates genetically modified humans to solve the problems caused by sexuality.

Crake uses a sex pill to spread his dangerous virus because he knows that most humans have uncontrollable sexual desires. Crake doesn’t see the need for attachments and uses the weakness of others to exploit them. By creating crakers, Crake is looking to eradicate some of the qualities that he believes make humans weak. Mating for crakers was a rare incident, “once every three years per female was more than enough”.

Crake also believes that nurturing children is a complete waste of time. He, therefore, increases the growth rate of his crakers, because he believes that, “far too much time was wasted in childrearing… and being a child” (187). Women, therefore, have little time caring for the children. He also believes that men are superior to women, and it’s not the responsibility of the man to look after children.

The Paradice people didn’t have a skin color which serves to eliminate racism. Crake was able to eliminate racism by altering the skin color of his crakers. Crake’s primary purpose is to wipe out the human race so that he can build a society where resources are distributed between its members. The crakers have a flaw and tend to construct a religion where they assigned a role according to gender.

Advancements in technology mainly provide people with hope that life will get better. Sometimes this is not always the case. There are many reasons why Crake uses his knowledge and mind to destroy the human race, and his lack of empathy is quite alarming. He believes that the world will be better without humans who he views as weak. Atwood uses his novel to show readers some of the adverse effects advancements in technology can have on society. She also challenges the community to deal with gender inequality.                                   

16 December 2021
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