I really enjoyed Oryx and Crake, but I still got frustrated by Jimmy’s character as he, time and time again, refused to see the ‘signs’ that Crake was communicating to him from a very young age. I almost felt like I was watching the babysitter from a horror flick answer the door and invite a sketchy looking stranger to come inside the house. As the reader, we know from the beginning that Crake is somehow the mastermind behind the collapse of humanity. Therefore, we see each vague comment and controlled smile as suggestive for something lying deep beneath the surface of Crake. I couldn’t help but cringe as Jimmy walked right into disaster.
In horror flicks, the female protagonist often knows that the unusual noise coming from outside the house is a not a good noise. She can deduce that the sound is caused by the same flesh eating monster that has been terrorizing her friends and her for the last hour. Despite this alarming knowledge, her curiosity always gets the best of her. She walks towards the door, she opens the door, and then she gets eaten by the monster.
I don’t know if this is a valid comparison, but the point is, Jimmy should have seen some signs along the way. For example, Crake’s question “Would you kill someone you loved to spare them pain?” That is definitely a sign! Jimmy says, “I listened, but I didn’t hear.” Crake remains an enigma to Jimmy (and the readers) throughout the book. Jimmy posed many good questions about his friend.
About not knowing if Crake knew about his affair with Oryx, Jimmy asked:
“Was it possible for a man so intelligent in so many ways to be acutely brain-damaged in others? Or did Crake have a deviousness that outdid Jimmy’s own? If so, there were no signs.”
After all the devastation goes down, he asked if Crake was “a lunatic or an intellectually honorable man who’d thought things through to their logical conclusion?” and “was there any difference?”
Is there any difference? And WHO is Crake? Unfortunately, Margaret Atwood doesn’t spell it out. What do you think? Is Crake just smarter than everyone or is he truly evil? Does he have a god complex or just a big ego? What are his redeeming traits?
Here’s a favorite Crake quote to read as you ponder!
“Arboreal, a fine word. Our arborearl ancestors, Crake used to say. Used to shit on their enemies from above while perched in trees. All planes and rockets and bombs are simply elaborations on that primate instinct.”