Reading ‘Oryx and Crake’: Day 6: Pages 354–431 (End)

Paradice

Life at Crake’s Paradice.

First view of the Crakers; Crake’s magnum opus. They have been raised to reproduce sui generis. In an artificial environment, an artificial Garden of Eden. Crake calls them the floor models of the new models of humans that they are about to make. Humans who have been cleansed of all the mistakes of traditional humanity. Jimmy asks, ‘Are they robots or what?’

They are programmed to drop dead at the age of thirty. No old age, no sickness. No fear of death. And this, according to Crake is a version of immortality. Having no conception of death is akin to being immortal.

“Babies are immortal.”

The Paradice method was being marketed as an easy way of creating artificial populations.

The Pill would put a stop to haphazard reproduction. The Paradice Project would be an alternate method of reproduction and sustenance of the species.

The destructive features of the primate brain would be edited out. This is Frankensteinian in its scope. Jimmy intervenes, “Didn’t you get a bit carried away?”

Vegans, says Crake, have shown interest in beautiful and intelligent babies who can eat grass. ‘Oh good, your baby can double as a lawn mower.” Various political organisations had shown interest in populations who would unquestioningly follow orders, without critique or the ability to protest.

Crake in Love.

We are back to Snowman’s perspective. It is raining outside and Snowman after having gathered all that he could from the bubble dome is starting on his return expedition. He has also picked up a nasty infection in his foot, one that will not be subdued by the all in one vaccine cooked up by Crake. This could be his undoing. He often thinks about how the microbes are gradually turning his foot to jelly.

Snowman is abominable, an aberration.

Enter Oryx: In the flesh. It is strange that it is only in the final few pages of the novel that we get to see this titular character in the present. Even this is not without problems because, there is no Oryx anymore who is not inextricably linked to Snowman’s memories of Oryx. The real Oryx is non-existent, an Oryx who is not tied to Snowman anymore. That Oryx is confined to the mythology of the Crakers, their collective memory and knowledge and also to the skeleton that is left outside of Paradice. These are the only ways in which Oryx still continues to function as an agent in this novel. Of these, the latter is pliable to influence by Snowman. The former is too, in that Snowman could choose to dispose of the body of Oryx but he seems not to be thus inclined, partly out of his enduring love for Oryx and also his overarching resignation about these end days when nothing seems to matter much anymore. Why would he bother with these bodies, these empty shells that used to harbour the two humans who were closest to him.

Snowman first sees Oryx when she was inside the bubble dome teaching Crakers – he could not recognize or tell her apart from them. Then later, Crake introduces her to him and he (Crake) seems to be unaware of Jimmy’s obsession with her. Jimmy is taken aback by what he clearly recognizes as Crake’s love for Oryx. Here is a man who he supposed would never be afflicted by ‘love’ and now look at him!

‘Crake was in love, for the first time ever.’

Crake had met her through the student services at Watson Crick. He had been specific about who he wanted as a teacher for Crakers and they had found her.

At Paradice she chose her name after a gentle water conserving east African herbivore – sadly extinct.

Jimmy’s job is a cakewalk. Paradice products such as the BlyssPluss pill would sell themselves without much need for advertisement.

Jimmy visits the pleeblands where he sees these products being vended, with Oryx playing a vital part in the distribution, she uses her business acumen and her contacts to sell these across the globe.

Oryx recognised Jimmy’s enduring attention towards her and seduces him. ‘Crake won’t know’, she says.

“You always think the worst of people, Jimmy”. – when Jimmy needles her about being sexually exploited in a garage.

Takeout

The catastrophe strikes. A new hot bioform outbreak reported from all around the world. No recourse in containment measures effective.

Both Crake and Oryx separately elicit promises from Jimmy that he’d take care of the Crakers in their absence.

Airlock

The outbreak is recognised as a rogue haemorrhagic. Airborne and waterborne. Jimmy recognizes that the outbreaks are from wherever Jimmy’s BlyssPluss pills have been distributed. Oryx goes to get takeout pizza. Crake is also out. Oryx might have confronted Crake about the pills being used as a kind of biological warfare.

Crake slits Oryx’s throat. Jimmy shoots Crake with a spray gun.

Bubble

Snowman limps back to his beach encampment. Through the verdure and up springing weeds he goes, hoppity hoppity hop.

Crake and Oryx have been vulturized.

Scribble

Description of the collapse of civilization.

The first two weeks were spent sealed in in the bubble dome. Listening to news reports. The bioform was a supervirulent splice. JUVE – Jetspeed Ultra Virus Extraordinary. The destruction of the human race does not seem to affect Jimmy much. Crake use to say that homo sapiens sapiens were not hardwired to individuate other people in numbers above 200, the size of the primal tribe.

After the transmissions cut out, Jimmy spends his time watching old movies. ‘Key Largo’, ‘The Birds’, ‘The Night of the Living Dead’.  Jimmy writes a letter outlining what has happened and blaming Crake for the destruction.

Remnant

Jimmy leads the Crakers away from the bubble dome. He gives them various mythologies and made up histories about the roles of Crake, Oryx and himself.

Idol

Snowman returns from his expedition and makes plans for the future. He is feverish from the infection on his foot. He knows that the antibiotic is not helping.

The Crakers have meanwhile made a substitute for Snowman – an idol that they prayed to in his absence, praying for his return.

Crake had said, ‘Symbolic thinking of any kind would signal downfall’.

After Snowman’s return, the Crakers dismantle and throw away the idol. Snowman fells as if he himself is being torn up and scattered.

Sermon

Snowman considers giving a sermon to the Crakers to lay down some commandments. Decides the better of it, since they would not be able to comprehend the dangers he’d be warning them against.

The Crakers tell Snowman about a party of three people who had arrived at the camp while Snowman was gone. They were armed but they fled after being alarmed at seeing the Crakers. The Crakers had made sexual advances to the woman in the party, thinking that she’d be like themselves.

Footprint

“How can the world still be so beautiful?’”

Snowman comes upon the party of three upon the beach. He does not know what to do. To approach them would be to expose himself and the Crakers to danger. But at the same time, he cannot bring himself to shoot them pre-emptively. They have personally done him no harm. If he disarms them, them might ambush him later. He is growing weaker from the infected foot – he doesn’t have much time to decide.

The novel ends. “Zero hour – Time to go”.

Reading ‘Oryx and Crake’. Day 5. Pages 305 – 353

We pick up the cue from Snowman’s perspective. He is inside the gatehouse, the twister has gone – he has lost his sense of time. There is something in a corner of the room – a land crab – another spliced bioform? – it has one pincer – possibly designed to tend to gardens – like a living lawn mower.

He finds himself ambushed by pigoons. They display extraordinary intelligence and cunning. Though they may look like pigs, these are extremely efficient predators – pack hunters. 20-30 of them. “Honey, you’re fucked.”

The pigoons use his garbage back (containing the things he picked up from the first house) as bait to lure him out.

He finds food in a kitchenette at the guard house. Also finds a wind up radio. White noise. “Just that sound, like the sound of starlight scratching its way through outer space. kkkkkkkkkk.” He receives a message.

Rampart

There is a cut on Snowman’s foot. He watches the sunset. He is not very impressed by it. He supposes that the glow of the view screens which would have filled the room when the guards had been there would have been much more impressive.

‘If I’d killed Crake earlier’, thinks Snowman, ‘would it have made any difference.’

So, Snowman was the one who killed Crake?

Snowman escapes on to the rampart of the guard house. He forgets to take the wind up radio.

Chapter 12: Pleebcrawl

How Jimmy was recruited by Crake.  After his mother’s death, Jimmy was not feeling too positive about things. He was slacking off at work and his love life suffered. He believed that he was being exploited by everyone.

Crake: “Nobody wants to be sexless, but nobody wanted to be nothing but sex.”

Crake visited Jimmy at his house and talked about his mother’s death. “Understandable, it was on brainfrizz. Inciting to violence, membership in a banned organization, hampering the dissemination of commercial products, treasonable crimes against society. I guess that last was the demos she was in. Throwing bricks or something. Too bad, she was a nice lady.”

Crake invites Jimmy to visit the pleeblands. They have to take an all purpose vaccine before they go. Pleeblands are full of hot bioforms, those who live there are pretty much immune but the compound population is not.

“The air was worse in the pleeblands, he said. More junk blowing in the wind, fewer whirlpool purifying towers dotted around.” – On air pollution.

Pleeblands are thickly populated.

The Street of Dreams – a genetic engineering destination that can do anything  including altering your body in any imaginable way and also can design children.

While on the visit, Crake offered Jimmy a job at Rejoovenesence.

BlyssPluss

Jimmy at RejoovenEsence. Cannot come to terms with the infrastructure, the money that has been sunk into building Crake’s Paradice. “What pays for this?” he asks – Crake: “Grief in the face of inevitable death. The wish to stop time, the human condition.”

Konga-lamb – like chickie nobs – kangaroo and lamb.

Crake says: What we are working on is immortality. BlyssPluss – a pill that is prophylactic in nature, that provides immunity against all known diseases, increases libido and also sterilizes you.  “eliminate the external causes of death and you were halfway there” – (to immortality).

The proper study of Mankind is Man.

BlyssPluss was based on animal testing on bonobo monkeys and chimps. There have been failures – people have died – scapegoats – people who are drawn from the poor or from other countries.

Crake: “We (the human race) is running out of space-time.”

Reveals that Paradice is actually MaddAddam – Jimmy is the head honcho. He has recruited all those who had been engaged in ecotage against the Compounds – made a private compound out of them. “What really counted in a research facility was the quality of the brains.”

The people at Paradice are reverential to Crake.  All of them, all of MaddAddam are ‘splice geniuses’.