I hate Oryx

Exactly what it says on the tin….from what we’ve read so far (I’ve finished Oryx and Crake but have not started The Year of the Flood yet) I cannot stand Oryx. Every time she appears on the page, I want to slap her for being so…..ugh. Okay, let me start over. Why don’t I like Oryx? I’m going to go ahead and say that I’m pretty sure I don’t understand her character at all. Here are the facts:

  • She has what we would call a terrible, abused childhood. She’s sexually assaulted throughout, and used. At first I nearly admired her acceptance about all this when Jimmy/Snowman described her attitude about it–she was calm, laughing at times–she was “over it.”
  • However, the caveat in this was her denial of different parts of her past, or rather, her refusal to either say it was her, or fully deny that it was her. It was strange that she should be so open about some parts and so frustratingly recalcitrant about others. That too, though, is understandable. Just because you want to talk about some parts of your past doesn’t mean you want to talk about others. I won’t deny I was frustrated with her responses to Jimmy’s queries though. Actually his queries bothered me too–he was so worked up (maybe because she wasn’t, despite her treatment being more than enough to be angry about)! I felt like he was making her life story, and all the things she had to go through, more about him, in a way. It’s hard to quantify.
  • However, what really bothered me about Oryx was her cheating on Crake. It was a) stupid and b) wrong, if she was doing it for herself; and it was STILL stupid and wrong if she was doing it on Crake’s orders (as Jimmy suspected). The affair was Jimmy’s fault too, of course, but Oryx initiating things really made me dislike her on a fundamental level.

The last, and more nebulous, reason why I hate Oryx comes out of her unique position in the book. She’s a titular character, she’s gone through all this hardship and everything, and yet she doesn’t feel fully formed–like she’s not a 3D person, somehow. All she really ends up being is a love interest/sacrificial lamb. We know this is not the only role women are relegated to in this society, dystopian as it is, but nevertheless Oryx’s only real function is in relation to the male characters–she’s got no real qualities outside of stirring up Jimmy with her life story (I think this is why her acceptance bugged me–it made the story more about his reaction than her telling) and having sex with him. I don’t know about you, but I would really like a little more in my female heroines, thank you very much. My opinion is subject to change, but for now, I’m deeply dissatisfied. Let’s hope Oryx steps it up a bit in the next book.

 

–greylady

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~ by liadangreylady on March 26, 2012.

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