Can You Imagine?
Have you ever wondered what it would be like when the world ended? Or how the world would end? What would be the cause? Robert Frost had some wise ideas:
Fire and Ice
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
No literal fire or ice ends the world in Margaret Atwood’s chilling novel Oryx and Crake. Instead, the narrator’s best friend destroys humanity with a deadly disease, strategically released all over the world at the same time. Jimmy, the narrator, grows up with a highly intelligent but socially awkward boy named Glenn. Eventually, Jimmy and Glenn are separated by attending two different colleges and then working at two different compounds. One day, Glenn (who at this point goes by Crake, a name chosen from a game called Extinctathon) shows up at and offers Jimmy a job working for him, marketing a new product.
Jimmy takes the job and meets Oryx, a girl whose image haunted him as a teenager. Crake and Jimmy are both in love with Oryx and she obliges both of them. Oryx and Crake make Jimmy promise that he will take care of their creations, the Crakers. When he makes this promise, he thinks of it as odd, but agrees nonetheless. Through the pills that Jimmy markets, Crake ends the world for humanity. He releases the deadly virus on everyone. To top it all off, Crake slits Oryx’s throat right in front of him in order to provoke Jimmy into killing Crake, which he does. Jimmy has to live with the consequences of his promises and the complete destruction that he unknowingly assisted in creating. Day by day he goes on, haunted by the past, struggling to survive in the present, and looking toward a future with very little hope for himself.
Would you say that fire or ice ended this world? Passion, hatred, or cold logic? Does it matter? Not for Jimmy. Because what is done, is done. It cannot be changed. The ghosts of the past will haunt him for the remainder of his life.