Summary of Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake
Chapter One Summary
Snowman wakes before dawn unhappily in a tree. Snowman can not remember
a certain phrase and it really seems to bother him. He can not remember
it due to a lack of its usefulness. Snowman seems alone and isolated.
Vicious yellow ants are mentioned in this chapter. Snowman also thinks
about the uselessness of his watch due to the fact that there is no
official time; the watch is merely a talisman.
Snowman sees a group of children swimming; they are unlike him. Snowman
knows the dangers of the world whereas the children do not. Snowman is
respected amongst the children and he can speak to their creator, Crake,
through his watch. There has been a great change in the world within
the last generation. There are no snowmen, no snow, the children do not
understand technology in even the simplest of forms. Snowman has a beard
and the children ask if they can grow “feathers”. He tells
them that they can not.
Snowman longs for a human companion, a fully human companion. Snowman
thinks of the animals wolvogs and pigoons. Snowman remembers a time when
he used to work out and take care of his body, but, now he can see his
ribs and he is wasting away. He longs for a woman named Oryx and needs
to believe that she can hear him. The sky has a hole burnt into it by
the sun. Crake is apparently someone who not only created the children
but, somehow is to blame for all of Snowman’s problems.
Chapter Two Summary
Snowman was once Jimmy. His earliest memory is of a huge bonfire. The
bonfire was an enormous pile of cows and sheep and pigs all of which
had been infected by some disease. Jimmy feels sorry for the animals
because they must be in pain. The disease is discussed by Jimmy’s
father who believes the animals were infected by people, perhaps a
cult; this is a scary thought because, they thought they were safe
inside their compound. Jimmy’s mother and father fight constantly
and they often put Jimmy in the middle. Jimmy spends a lot of his time
trying to get his mother’s attention.
Jimmy’s father worked for OrganInc Farms as a genographer and also
lived in the OrganInc Compound where the top people lived. He is highly
intelligent and has worked on many very important projects. His father
works on the pigoon project. A pigoon was designed to grow an assortment
of human-tissue organs in a pig host; when the organs were removed the
pigoon could grow new organs. People are disgusted by the thought of
eating pigoons at first, but, after meat becomes scarce and time goes
on, people begin making jokes that the ham in the cafeteria is in fact
pigoon meat. Compound people did not go into the cities or pleeblands
unless they had to because there were too many risks.
Jimmy’s mother worked for OrganInc Farms at one time. Jimmy, as
a child, could not figure out why she left OrganInc Farms. His mother
is depressed and spends most of her day sitting in a bathrobe smoking.
Jimmy wants to make her laugh, but, it is a very hard task. The days
when she does pay attention to him, he is worried because, it seems so
weird. On days when Jimmy can not obtain approval from his mother, he
pushes her until he can get negative attention. Sometimes he makes her
cry or he makes her angry and even this feels better than her isolation
Chapter Three Summary
Noon is the worst time of day for Snowman because the Sun’s rays
are at their most dangerous. Snowman is very resourceful and due to the
environment he is forced to make many adjustments to his environment.
He thinks back to his childhood and remembers his father feeling that
he was incapable of even screwing in a light bulb. Everything in Snowman’s
world suggests otherwise. Snowman is depressed in this new world; there
is no point to anything for him anymore. Knowledge is useless to him
now; he tries to think of the meaning to the word Mesozoic and it doesn’t
come but, it doesn’t really matter. He spends his time thinking
of things that would be enjoyable to do and there are none.
The rain in this time is so heavy that its impact turns the air to mist.
Snowman sees a construction sign and thinks about how pointless it was
to work all day all year when now everywhere and everything is crumbling.
For some reason, Snowman blames himself for his situation.
Chapter 4 Summary
Snowman begins to remember his tenth birthday and the gift he received
from his dad. He talks about how the only person who every really remembered
his birthday was Dolores the live-in Philippina who would always have
a cake for him the day of his birthday. It becomes apparent that Snowman
feels pent up hostility toward his parents from their carelessness on
his birthday—both needing to be reminded of the day with his mother
getting him a very thoughtless present late in the day and his father
bringing him a present always the day after. He goes on to speak of his
parents’ fake attempts in parenting. At one point, Jimmy sets up
a way to spy on his parents with microphones hidden in the kitchen. It
is here that the reader is able to see further the dispute between his
mother’s depression and guilt and his father’s want and need
for money. In the end of the chapter Jimmy goes to be laughing after
hearing his parents’ fights, signaling something very odd is growing
in Jimmy possibly.
Jimmy mother leaves him and his father. He finds a note from her saying
that she cannot live the way she has been, that she will contact him,
and that she loves him very much. She also buys him new clothes saying
that she believes he will be able to grow into them, however, when
Jimmy tries them on they are too small and to ass insult to injury
takes Jimmy’s rakunk with her. Also, before leaving, she smashes
her computer and his father’s computer with a hammer from the
toolbox. With the security so tight in the compound, she makes an elaborate
scheme to leave saying she had to go see a dentist for a root canal.
It is one of the Corp guys that she conspires with in order to escape.
His father seems devastated at the time and comes back later. Soon
Jimmy’s father start to return to normal and Ramona moves in
a while later. Jimmy speaks of their sexual escapades and the deep
mortification he feels about them rubbing it in his face.
A few months before Jimmy’s mom left, he met Crake. At the time
he was called Glenn with two n’s and Jimmy questions him about
it with no real answer. Jimmy’s mom likes Crake, which is surprising
because she doesn’t like most of Jimmy’s friends. She says
that Crake was intellectually honorable because you could have a real
conversation with him. Jimmy ends up showing Crake around at the request
of his teacher who he refers to as Melons because of her enormous breasts
that she puts on display. He shows Crake around and explains about the
bugging of the school and how not to get caught. They end up hanging
out at the mall where they see Melons. Meanwhile Crake imitates a teacher
and while Jimmy enjoys this display of humor he is also a little threatened
that he will overshadow him, however he doesn’t.
Wakulla Price moves away, leaving Crake to fill her seat in the Biochem
lab with Jimmy. Jimmy is of course upset about her moving away, but
moves on. During this time Jimmy and Crake, who are stated to not be
gay, start to spend more time together during lunch at school and they
also hang out after school a few times a week. The boys usually hang
out at Crake’s house where they use his computers to go on websites
about torture, killing, and assisted suicide as well as pornographic
ones they log on to using Crake’s stepfather’s password
who Crake call Uncle Pete. The boys also steal dope from Pete and smoke
it while they are watching the porn. Many times Jimmy goes home high
while his father and Ramona do not seem to notice.
Jimmy and Crake continue to get high and look at the pornographic websites
using Uncle Pete’s password, making sure that no one finds out.
On one occasion they are watching porn on the website hott totts—this
is where they see Oryx for the first time. Crake copies the clip of
Oryx looking back and gives a copy to Jimmy as well. Snowman remembers
Jimmy and Oryx having a conversation about the picture of her he saved
and showed her. This does not upset Oryx at all, even after Jimmy grills
her about it.
Chapter Five Summary
Snowman sees a glowing rabbit and has the desire to eat it. He is starving
but, he can not kill the rabbit because of the laws he set in place
early on. He wishes on a star and older children hear him. They ask
why he is talking to himself and he tells them he is talking to Crake.
They ask him a few more questions and then he tells them that if they
do not quit asking questions they will be toast. They do not understand
this phrase; there is no toast. They ask what toast is and he lies
saying it is horrible and deadly because, there is no possible way
he could ever explain to them what toast is.
Snowman thinks about how ingenious homo sapiens were and he remembers
Crake’s distaste in humans. Crake felt that humans had monkey brains.
Snowman does not find the Craker Women attractive because they are too
perfect, he realizes this as they carry his weekly fish to him. He wishes
he’d have made it a law to bring him many fish, rather than just
one a week. They watch as he eats this fish amazed at his monstrousness
and depravity. The people then ask for a story from Snowman about Crake.
He tells a story about chaos and the Crakers begin praising Crake for
making the great emptiness for them. Snowman is outraged at their love
for Crake; he feels they should glorify him instead. While Crake created
the Crakers, Snowman has watched over them, taught them and helped them
for a long time.
Snowman wants something to numb him. He craves Alcohol; he remembers
having done cough syrup and many other things just to feel better. He
finds a bottle of Scotch and drinks it angry at Crake and the world.
Snowman yells and makes a scene for no one to see, but, wolvogs gather
underneath his tree. He throws the bottle at them and they run off, but
Snowman wonders how long it will be before they realize he is unarmed
and begin hunting him.
Chapter 6 Summary
This whole chapter goes into great depth about Oryx’s life. In
this section, Oryx begins talking to Jimmy about the man who would come
to town to pick out the new children he would take with him and away
from their families. Oryx and her brother are two of the children from
her town to be sold. While talking about her past, Jimmy begins to get
very upset that another man forced her to do this, but she does not see
it that way.
After Oryx got taken from her family, she leaves her village to start
her journey with the rest of the children. Not knowing where they are
headed or who they are with, the man who bought them tells them to
call him Uncle En. They drove in a car for hours and when it was time
for them to sleep, the children cried most of the night.
When they arrived to the city, Uncle En showed them where they would
be staying. It was a tiny room on the third floor and every night the
children would roll out a thin mattress, that were stained and smelled
like urine, to lie on, and then they would roll them back up every
morning. Uncle En told the children that he kept his eye on them at
all times. They were not allowed to run away or keep money from the
tourists, if so then they might get beaten or burned. At first, Uncle
En had Oryx selling flowers and gave her a new name to go by, SuSu.
One day, while Oryx was selling flowers, a man asked her to come up
to his hotel room. She obliged and the man told her to take off her
dress, while he took of his clothes. Before the man did anything, Uncle
En ran into the room to stop them and wound up getting money from the
One day a different man showed up and said that he was going to be the
boss now and not Uncle En. Later on, Oryx was told by another girl
that Uncle En had been found floating in a canal with his throat cut.
After this, Oryx stopped selling flowers and began acting in pornographic
movies. While hearing all of this, Jimmy gets more and more frustrated,
but Oryx is not bothered by it. She does not feel resentment towards
any of the men who made her do this. While shooting these movies, Oryx
learned English from a man named Jack, who in exchange had sexual relations
Chapter 7 Summary
The beginning of this chapter finds our character Snowman up in the tree
that he lives in. He is still very drunk from the night before and decides
that he needs to get himself some food. Snowman keeps his food in a secret
hiding spot inside a rock so that his food stays safe. After he looks
through the little bit of food that he has left, he decides on Sveltana
no-meat cocktail sausages, however he is not very fond of them. He says
that they are ugly to look at but, “they are always better if you
don’t look.” By this chapter in the story, he is becoming
increasingly restless and knows he needs to find more food in order to
keep on living. He only receives one fish a week from the Crakers and
it is not enough to sustain his appetite. While eating the Sveltana cocktail
sausages, Snowman thinks about killing a pigoon for food but then realizes
that he would have no chance. His only choice now is to travel to the
RejoovenEsense Compound to find food and supplies, such as a gun to defend
himself from the animals.
After Snowman decides to head into the RejoovenEsense Compound, he realizes
that he must tell the Crakers where he is going so that they do not
think he died or disappeared. He heads into their living area and witness
them going about their daily activities, all of which were designed
by Crake to serve a function in their lives. When he walks up he sees
the men of the community urinating over certain parts of the land,
which is a daily activity. They do this because Crake built special
scents into their urine in order to keep the pigoons and other large
animals away from where they are living. When he comes into the town
he sees that a boy was hurt by a large animal in the woods and that
the women are all standing around him purring, like cats. This was
also designed by Crake to allow the Crakers to heal themselves. Already,
the boy’s wound is closing up. After this happens, Snowman decides
he is going to tell them he is going. Many of the Crakers wish to come
with him, because they feel that they will be able to see Crake. Snowman
forbids this because he is afraid that if any of them come they could
see him exhibiting signs of weakness and that would diminish his credibility.
After leaving the Crakers, Snowman cautiously heads out in search of
RejoovenEsense Compound being careful to not step on anything that
may cut his feet or harm him since he no longer has shoes. He is also
wearing a piece of cloth wrapped around him for clothing. He also keeps
his eyes constantly moving around so that he does not become prey for
one of the bobkittens who lives in the woods. They can sneak up on
people and attack them, and he does not want this to happen. As he
continues to travel, we learn more about the functions that the Crakers
have that were designed by Crake. One of the main things that Crake
feels he eliminated in his society are the elements of love, lust and
jealousy. He only designed the Crakers to mate every three years because
he felt that was enough to sustain the population. There is no love
involved, or any kind of wanting for another person since everything
they do is purely to carry on their new race. Snowman thinks about
this as he walks further and further into the forest, getting closer
to the RejoovenEsense Compound with each step.
Chapter 8 Summary
On his way to the Compound, Jimmy thinks back again to him and Crake
and when they graduated from high school. They both went to HelthWyzer
High and Crake was top of the class. After graduating, colleges bid on
what students they want to come to their school and, of course, Crake
got accepted to one of the best colleges, Watson-Crick Institute, while
Jimmy was accepted to the low-budget Martha Graham Academy. Jimmy also
remembered when Crake told him about watching his mother dissolve from
HelthWyzer genetically creates coffee beans that can be harvested with
machines, which starts protests among the people. While watching the
protests on T.V. Jimmy sees his mother for the first time since she
left him and his dad. Crake tells Jimmy that his dad had an “accident” and
fell off of a pleebland overpass.
Martha Graham Academy is starting to fall apart and it is surrounded
by poor people, huts, and sheds. Jimmy looks back on all the girls
he dated and realized how different Oryx was from the rest of them.
She did not fall for his tricks, such as pretending to be sad, so he
could get the girls closer to him. She just told him to get over it.
Jimmy and Crake talk occasionally through e-mails. Thanksgiving break
approaches and Crake invites Jimmy to stay with him at Watson-Crick
Institute. When Jimmy arrives to Watson-Crick, the CorpSeCorps men
start to interrogate him and ask him about his mother.
Crake takes Jimmy on a tour of the campus and Jimmy realizes how much
of a dump Martha Graham Academy is. Crake shows him some of the products
they are creating that will be the new “wave of the future”.
One of the new products is called ChickieNobs, which are chickens with
additional body parts, minus the beak, eyes, and brain. After being
on this campus for a while, Jimmy starts to feel out of place.
While they are sitting around talking, Jimmy finds out the real truth
about Crake’s father’s death. Crake tells Jimmy that scientists
are not only creating cures for diseases, but they are creating new
diseases in order to keep their jobs. Crake’s father finds this
information out and was killed, so his death was not an accident.
Crake is a grandmaster in Extinctathon now and the gateway to his “playroom” is
Oryx’ eye in the picture, which Jimmy is haunted by. The game brings
up news articles all having to do with odd genetic happenings. “MaddAddam
needs fresh initiatives”. The game is what is inspiring people
to create these genetic changes. Crake screams in his sleep due to the
nightmares he has, now Snowman lives in Crake’s nightmare.
Chapter 9 Summary
Snowman continues on walking through the pleeblands, but thinks back
to when Crake asked him what would happen if civilization was destroyed.
He reaches the Compounds and enters a house to find food.
He finds the husband in the bathtub and takes some aspirin, toothpaste,
and a bar of soap with him. In the bedroom, is the wife and he sprays
himself with some perfume. He doesn't find the child in its bedroom.
From the linen closet, he takes a new sheet to wrap around him. He
takes some cashew packets, along with a flashlight, candle ends, matches,
two knives, and puts them in a garbage bag. When he goes into the office,
he sees a picture of the father and their son and he wonders why he
feels like he just broke into his own house and that he is the missing
Leaving the house, there is a group of pigoons outside that he wards
off. Shortly after, a tornado hits and he finds shelter in a secretary's
office, while the lights go out and he sits in the dark imagining Oryx
coming to him.
Chapter 10 Summary
Jimmy graduated from Martha Graham after four years with a degree in
Problematics. He got a summer job working at the Martha Graham Library.
He begins living with a conceptual artist named Amanda Payne and her
two male roommates, who were also artists. The male roommates didn’t
like Jimmy too much. He finally landed a job with AnooYoo that was close
to the Pleeblands. He and Amanda break off their relationship.
Jimmy moves into the AnooYou Compound. He begins to avoid all social interaction
with his fellow employees. He ignores the messages from his dad and Ramona.
He eventually gets a promotion.
Jimmy thinks about how his life is slowly going failing. He thinks about
how Crake had graduated and was working at one of the most important
compounds. He mentions that they still stay in come sort of contact
and Crake tells Jimmy that his Uncle Pete just died of a sudden virus.
He sees a news story about a girl who had been kept in a garage by
a Pharmacist in San Francisco. They show a picture of her and Jimmy
recognizes her as Oryx.
The CorpSeCorps come to question Jimmy again about the whereabouts of
his mother. They begin showing him pictures and videos to see if Jimmy
sees his mother and in one scene he recognizes his mother. She is being
executed by a firing squad. The next few days Jimmy is restless and
depressed. Nothing brings him out of his depression.
Chapter 11 Summary
Jimmy has a dream about being a young child sitting in the kitchen in the house
in which he grew up. In the dream he is eating a peanut butter sandwich and
something is digging in through the plaster in the wall. He wakes up in the
gatehouse, remembering a tornado has occurred. He leaves the gatehouse to continue
on his journey and sees seven pigoons. They start to chase after him. He runs
back into the gatehouse and hides in the building, but the electronic locks
do not work. The pigoons enter the building and Jimmy believes they will eventually
Jimmy escapes up a flight of stairs that the pigoons cannot climb. The
stairs lead to him a watchtower with a lot of technology that doesn’t
work anymore. He goes through all the supplies and the guards’ stuff.
He gets much needed water from the reservoir in the toilet and also
a “bonanza” of food in the cupboard and the fridge. He
finds a radio and another human voice comes across the line. He tries
to communicate but does not make any progress.
Jimmy attempts to tend to the cut on his foot. He decides to stay the
night in the watchtower and has trouble falling asleep. When he finally
falls asleep he has another dream about the absence of his mother.
When he makes up in the morning he gathers all the supplies he can
afford to carry and starts to plan his exit. He has to crawl through
the emergency air vent in order to escape the pigoons. As he is crawling
along the rampart, he sees a cloud of smoke off in the distance towards
the Crakers. He questions why the Crakers would do that.
Chapter 12 Summary
Jimmy is still working his way towards Paradice, but slowly due to the
injury of his foot and the extreme heat. It then flashes back to his
time spent working at AnooYoo. He had been late to work a couple of times
and figured he would be in trouble soon. The night before he had gotten
into an argument with one of his “lovers,” so he decided
to start drinking at 12 o’clock in the afternoon. Then Crake arrives
at his door. Crake invites Jimmy to go to the Pleeblands and go to some
bars with him. Crake gives Jimmy an “all purpose vaccine” before
going into the Pleeblands. Crake takes him to the Street of Dreams to
show him where most of the products Crake works on are sold. Crake gets
Jimmy drunk and offers him a job at Rejoov and Jimmy accepts
On Monday after his weekend with Crake, Jimmy goes to work and is unexpectedly
congratulated by his boss and the higher ups. Jimmy is sent on a bullet
train to RejoovEsense. Crake shows him around the compound, which is
incredibly decorated and obviously expensive. Crake shows him Jimmy
to his unit, Paradice, and tells Jimmy about his BlyssPluss pill—the
prophylactic pill that was created to eliminate STDs, improve sexual
prowess, and prolong youth. Crake tells Jimmy he will be doing the
ad campaign for the product.
At Paradice, Jimmy learns that most of the people working there are Grandmasters
in the game Extinctathon ad most were members of MaddAddam.
After a short tour, they go to Crake’s office. Crake tells Jimmy
he is going to show him his life’s work. This is the first time
Jimmy sees the Crakers. Crake explains how he develops the Crakers and
their special feature like dropping dead at the age of thirty. He explains
all the possibilities that come with the Crakers. Jimmy is given his
own suite inside Paradice
Crake in Love
Jimmy spots Oryx in the container with the Crakers, though he doesn’t
recognize her until a few days later when he sees her face. Crake explains
that she is the teacher of the Crakers. Crake explains that he met her
through the Student Services at Watson Crick and alludes to the fact
that he has an infatuation with her. Jimmy begins an affair with Oryx
while she is still “dating” Crake.
Jimmy tries to convince Oryx to run away from the compound with him.
At one point or another, both Crake and Oryx ask Jimmy to promise that
if something happens to one of them, he will look after the Crakers.
The virus outbreaks begin. Oryx calls Jimmy and tells him that the virus
was in the BlyssPluss pills. By midnight the virus was spreading everywhere.
Jimmy was angry that Oryx and Crake were not at the compound. When
they return, Jimmy refuses to let Crake and Oryx in the airlock, but
Crake informs Jimmy that he is immune to the disease because of the
serum he gave him before going to the Pleeblands. He finally lets the
two in and then Crake slits Oryx’s throat and then Jimmy shoots
Chapter 13 Summary
In the first installment of chapter 13 Snowman/Jimmy is on the walking
along the rampart in Paradice. His foot is in considerable pain and he
plans on going to Crake’s emergency storeroom in an attempt to
find some medicine/antibiotic to help heal his foot. He mentions that
he, personally, ransacked this storeroom many years before when the trouble
all began. At the eighth watchtower, he uses his sheet to lower himself
down to the ground. He lands on his foot causing more pain. He eventually
makes it to the storeroom and injects himself with one of Crake’s “cocktails.” He
goes back to his old sleeping quarters and falls asleep.
The next morning his foot feels better. He wanders around his old room
looking at his old clothes and whatnot. The scene then switches to
after he had shot Crake and locked himself in the room. He watches
the Crakers throughout the day, listening to them talk and wondering
if he should introduce himself to them. He also surfs the Internet
looking at current events and the status of the virus. He finds out
that they are calling the virus JUVE. He pretty much watches the world’s
demise via the Internet. He also ponders if Crake had used his own
mother and/or his Uncle Pete as test subjects. Switching back to the
present, he finds a note that he wrote discussing the world’s
turn of events. He crumples up the note and drops it on the floor.
Jimmy/Snowman finally shows himself to the Crakers. He tells them his
name is Snowman and that Oryx and Crake have left because they have
things to do, but Snowman is here to take them to a new place. He takes
the Crakers to the seashore. While leaving they are forced to step
over Oryx’s and Crake’s dead bodies. Also while they are
leaving the compound, people come running to Snowman and the Crakers
for help. These people are infected and Snowman shoots them and explains
that it is “the will of Crake.”
Jimmy grabs a bunch of supplies from the storeroom. He shoots a pigoon
as he makes his way back to the beach. The infection in his foot is getting
worse. He finally gets back to the beach and heads back towards the Crakers
village. When he comes upon them he sees and hears that they are singing,
which he believes them to be saying “Amen.” However, once
he gets closer he learns that they are singing “Snowman.” They
explain that they were trying to lead him back. Jimmy gets confused trying
to explain where he has been and what he has been doing. They see he
has a hurt foot and begin to tend to it.
Jimmy learns that other people “like him” visited the Crakers
while he was gone. There were two males and one female and they had a
gun. The Crakers say that they ran away up the beach. Jimmy says that
he will go see these people the next day.
Jimmy/Snowman wakes up before dawn. He admits that he is terrified of
going to talk to the three other surviving humans. He begins walking
up the beach. As he gets closer he smells smoke and hears voices. He
kill them or to try to communicate with them. He looks at his blank watch
and its zero hour. “Time to go.”