READERS NOTESChapter 1: MangoIt is here where the reader is first introduced to the character named Snowman, who appears to be isolated from society. We see through the lense of Snowman himself, as the setting of his location is described briefly; a jungle like scene, as interpreted from the thick vegetation and his placement in a tree, the ocean with some car parts/pollution. Time appears to hold some sort of significance, as Snowman notes how his broken watch not only blinds him from the passing of time, but that no one is aware of the time.
Snowman’s reference to “no one” when speaking of those who were aware of time can possibly mean that the society which exists at the time of this book may be held in the distant future. These thoughts run through Snowman’s mind as if this voice was another person, very real and interrupting his other thoughts. He continuously forces himself to think of the sources of his thoughts, the phrases he doesn’t remember completely emphasizes the separation of his past experiences to his present time nature. His frustration suggests a traumatic incident which resulted him in this setting and forgetting things he used to be very familiar with. His broken and disordered thoughts contrast the rather orderly, routine nature he takes on, from his morning routine to his walk on the beach.Chapter 1: FlotsamThe children are now introduced, a group which Snowman appears to be familiar with.
His observance of them can be interpreted as potential longing for his youth, or general past life. They appear carefree, and withstand the environment without any issue, in contrast to the Snowman who hides in the shadows. Snowman’s familiarity with them is noted through the lack of hesitancy when the children quickly approach him.
The children don’t stand too close, and we (readers) and Snowman are unsure whether they attempt to show respect or are disgusted by his wild/dirty appearance.They begin to chant phrases to Snowman, but this is seen as a nothing negative. They display great interest in learning the reasons behind Snowman’s appearance and Snowman obliges to their pleads for answers. The respect they pay Snowman places emphasis on the trust children place on their elders. The physical differences of the children and Snowman are highlighted here, with mentions of their unfamiliarity with facial hair, drawing a large line of separation between them.
Further, Snowman attempts to grasp onto his memory of a woman named Oryx, but rather ends up speaking with an unknown woman. This places emphasis on his loss of memory. Snowman here also mentions Crake, who he speaks to as if he were somewhere else but could answer his questions (a God-like figure), but shows great detest for him.Chapter 2: BonfireThe bonfire Snowman recalls is back when he used to be named Jimmy. The memory begins when he recalls having duck boots, and how he attempted to protect the ducks from any damage highlights the innocence he had at this time, oblivious to the weight of the situation. For what Jimmy doesn’t understand at the time, we can see that there is a central focus placed on the death of animals. As well, we are introduced to Jimmy’s parents, who don’t appear to have a very stable relationship, as respect between the two doesn’t seem to exist. Jimmy’s father is very quick to disregard his wife when she presents her concerns to him, which frustrates her.
The multiple, small fights Jimmy observes further supports our interpretation of an unstable marriage. Information regarding society at the time is obtained through the oblivious observations made by Jimmy, as he overhears his father’s conversation, as there is mentions of biological warfare, and the poor protection of the livestock, and the fear of possible attacks. Jimmy is very observant of his father’s actions, and takes on his lighthearted/joking nature when speaking with his mother.
Despite her seriousness when speaking on importance of sanitation/how viruses and diseases spread, Jimmy’s behaviour is not appropriate and bothers his mother. Knowledge of these concepts are shown to be very important in this memory.Chapter 2: OrganInc FarmsThe introduction of Pigoons is done here, the emphasis placed on scientific development. Both Jimmy’s parents appear to have had significant contributions to these discoveries. The selling of genetically modified meats which have human genes in them, in an attempt to make money off their sales, is noted in this section. The only reason this is being done is because of the recent developments with pigoons, natural meats are being used up for these experiments. The grown up Jimmy begins to consider the morality of the testings. Jimmy’s parents begin to argue more, and disagree on the ethical issues with these experiments.
Jimmy’s father sees his wife being irrational and wasting her knowledge, caring little for her feelings and approaching conflict properly. The corporations divided people, evidenced by the literal division of the upper working class, where JImmy’s family lives, and other classes. Jimmy’s mother appears unhappy with her life and wishes for another life, despite her husband gladly embracing the happiness provided by the simple compound life.Chapter 2: LunchJimmy’s mother quits her work and stays at home with Jimmy, an arrangement Jimmy is not very happy with. He longs for his old nanny, as his mother always seems unhappy or snappy. Her dedication to her work before, and now decision to leave this all behind displays her sadness and the loss of hope with her marriage. She forces herself to be a good mother, but small inquiries make her lose control, or “snap” at Jimmy.
Jimmy attempts to be a well mannered, nearly perfect son so she remains happy but his failure to do so emphasizes his mother’s unstable nature. Jimmy starts to lose grip on this mother-son relationship, so he begins to make poor attempts at catching her attention. Chapter 3: NoonersJuxtaposition of Jimmy’s parents relationship and Jimmy’s personal relationships are created in this section.
Snowman recalls back to when he felt romantic feelings towards Oryx creep onto him. Further, Snowman observations give us the idea that science is taking over and holds great significance in society. Science is put above anything else, but Snowman notes the importance of being educated in fields such as history and the languages, fearful that this will soon die. It is as if he depends on this to keep his identity, as if it were a literal part of him. His separation from society/humanity is emphasized further when he uses other animals habits to help him, such as panting when tired/sweaty. Again, the woman’s voice reenters his mind, highlighting the loneliness experienced by Snowman, as he struggles to hold on to relationships when in isolation from all others. Snowman thinks of Oryx to comfort him but quickly this feelings dies off. A potential bad ending to their relationship may have caused this shift.
An ironic moment occurs when Snowman remembers the importance of taking vitamins, from a LIfe Skills class he took. Despite having many other worries regarding his survival, he recalls this information from his past. Chapter 3: DownpourBeer bottles litter the area near Snowman, which he uses to refill with dirty water. The contrast of the importance of sanitation in his past life versus now is emphasized.
As well, the broken old bottles suggest that this was once helpful to those nearby or potentially Snowman himself, but were clearly a temporary solution to their sadness or attempt to forget their situation. A voice in Snowman’s head appears, insisting “I didn’t do it on purpose.”, and begins to cry. He doesn’t believe this voice is genuine or even real, and dismisses it. Snowman spends much of his time recalling information he learned back when he was younger, and general memories he made back then.
This is a sign of his awareness that this maintains his sanity, holding onto the memories which built him as a person.Chapter 4: RakunkWhen Snowman witnesses a rakunk, he recalls the time when he had one. The connection he appeared to have with his pet makes us wonder if this was Jimmy’s one and only good relationship he established. He was given Killer, the rakunk, on his birthday, giving more meaning to Jimmy as his birthdays usually were not the greatest in a family where the parent-child bonds were very weak.
The mention of Ramona again here makes it clear that the marriage between Jimmy’s parents is nearly over. The only place where Jimmy feels as if he escapes the unfavourable situations at home is when he attends school.Jimmy’s father later on appears to have taken a huge step forwards with OrganInc Farms; the introduction of human brain tissue in the pigoons. This is completely wrong in the mind of Jimmy’s mother, as she finds this unpractical and not morally just. The mother’s unhappiness appears to be more evident than ever, but Jimmy’s father doesn’t take it seriously whatsoever, far more concerned with his job than fixing his personal relationships. Chapter 4: HammerThis is where Jimmy begins to go through the regular boy stages in life; his notice of girls in particular. As mentioned in the previous sections, it is noted that Jimmy struggles to hold on to relationships or maintain stable ones.
He is not unpopular, however Killer seems to be the only one who he has a true, genuine relation with. This naturally leads to his fantasies with other girls, and in an attempt to appear “cool” to others, his humiliating comments regarding his parents. It is noted that he takes guilt specifically when he speaks of his mother however, displaying a stronger relationship between his mother andhim in comparison to him and his father. This may be due to his father’s main concern of his job over his relationships.Suddenly, Jimmy’s mother leaves, taking Killer with her. Jimmy is saddened as Killer was his one and true friend, and he believes that his mother cared about herself over him.
Despite this frustration, Jimmy wonders if Ramona and Jimmy’s father had an affair, displaying his curiosity to understand relationships.The introduction of Crake now explains who Snowman spoke to earlier in the story. They begin to build a friendship, however Jimmy begins to feel insecure and build jealousy towards Crake. He notices that Crake is gifted in the sciences.
He still take great interest in Crake, and learns a few things from him through observational learning. Chapter 4: BrainfrizzJimmy and Crake play computer games together, which portray violence and things like beauty as nothing but tradable things. History is not done justice, as important events are reduced in order to show a form of entertainment that is appealing to the users. History is very important to Jimmy, and now Snowman, as it is a reminder of humanities significance and existence. Crake begins to take particular interest in a game called “Extinctathon”, one where he attempts to become the grandmaster in.
His obsession with the game is noted by Jimmy, but like other things Crake does, he dismisses the significance behind his actions. The clash between the games/activities favoured by the two show the different outlooks they have on life, Crake for violence and Jimmy for life and the success of humanity. Their relationship turns dark, when their together time consists mainly of them watching pornography and violence, rather than enjoying each others company. The line that separates the violence and porn they observe is not distinct, as noted by Jimmy.Chapter 4: HottTottsThe introduction of Oryx in Jimmy’s life first begins here, when Crake and Jimmy see her in a pornography video. She stands out in Jimmy’s mind, Crake printing out a photo of her for himself and Jimmy.
Their attraction for her may foreshadow an eventual relationship, but the sudden attraction both build for her, versus the other girls they have seen, is strange. The nature of Jimmy and Crake’s relationship does not appear to be healthy and shows the Jimmy has still yet to build a good relationship. He seems to have hope in eventually building one with Oryx.It appears as if Jimmy eventually sleeps with Oryx, but she strangely doesn’t seem to be a defined person. She gives in to Jimmy’s beliefs, not reaching her own conclusions. The possibility of there being more than one Oryx arises here.
Chapter 5: ToastSnowman communicates with the Crakers, as they are curious as to where they came from. This suggests their curiosity of their purpose in the world, something that humans question all the time, but in this case is a matter of why their modified human selves are significant. Snowman is someone who would know this, as he had lived in the previous life and today’s life. The Crakers put a lot of trust into him, which is a power that Snowman must be careful with. Snowman lies to the Crakers, however makes sure that his story stays consistent so he doesn’t lose this trust. Further, this is a chance for Snowman to speak with others, rather than just himself, emphasizing his loneliness. He tells the Crakers that they were made by Crake and that the animals they know of were made by Oryx. He creates this image of his beloved Oryx to create an ideal “mythology” so to speak.
Despite the Crakers communicating with him, they lack knowledge on many of the things he used to be familiar with. When he tells the Crakers to shoo off, or they will be toast (a metaphor), they are confused by this. When Snowman attempts to think of a way of educating the Crakers on what toast is and the metaphor, he realizes they know so little and this saddens him. Snowman’s yearn to relive and keep his memories alive is made evident through his shift in mood after remembering the fall of humanity when the Crakers were introduced. Chapter 5: FishContrast between Crake and Jimmy’s passions are continued in this section.Snowman continues to inform the Crakers on past life routines and habits. One of which included the use of fish as food.
Their disgust (since all are vegans) but interest towards this way of eating keeps them engaged, and encourages them to visit Snowman more often. Also, it is noted that the names of these Crakers include historical figures, like Abraham Lincoln. Snowman is amused by this a little, as history stays somewhat stays alive through these names. It is also noted that Snowman does all of this in spite of Crake, giving the Crakers knowledge on the past life and teaching them to appreciate language and art. He teaches them the significance of all of this, knowing that Crake favoured science over the arts and languages.
He would have appreciated the Crakers learning about science rather than what Jimmy, and now Snowman loves. However, he is extremely careful with giving off too much information, as some of their questions can only be answered with more questions. When they ask about their origin, he says they came from the sky above. As mentioned earlier, he speak of Crake as a God, or a very high authority. Chapter 5: BottleThe beer bottles previously noted (broken bottles on the beach) confirm that these were, in fact, for Snowman.
He picks up his last bottle of scotch and forces himself to imagine Oryx, an image which seems to calm him down. Scientific development surrounds Snowman and his loneliness in this developed society emphasizes his feeling of isolation. His thoughts are what comfort him, and he attempts to use alcohol to modify them to help put him at ease. He curses Crake, suggesting further that it is thanks to Crake’s actions or possibly their poorly ended ‘friendship’ that led him to be in this position. The irony of speaking of Crake as a God, positive connotation, but later cursing him for being an awful person is highlighted in this section (but also was noted earlier in the book).
Chapter 6: OryxSnowman awakes and feels as if Oryx was nearby, but we see that in reality, she is not there. His mind mixes his strong desires with reality, and Snowman attempts to assure Oryx that he loved her. He sounds doubtful, and this supports our observation of Jimmy’s past, unstable relationships.
The relationship he noted between his parents may be a large reason for Jimmy’s and now Snowman’s poor grasp of healthy, stable personal relationships.We further see here that Oryx is not like Jimmy, or even natural. Her stories appear to be pieced together by others, so her own stories aren’t even her own. She shows little connection or emotional ties with these “memories” she speaks of, and is confused by the response she gets from Jimmy. Their life experiences clash so much and they cannot relate to one another because the lives they grew up with are so different. Jimmy speaks of Oryx tragic life to Crake, but rather than responding in a caring manner, he scientifically explains overproduction and the need to place children in other families to maintain balance. Crake versus Jimmy’s outlook on life continues throughout the section, as well as the previous ones.Chapter 6: BirdcallOryx story continues here, as she describes her travels with Uncle En.
She describes that at checkpoints, the guards centred their focus on the mechanics of their job, rather than their care for the issue at hand. In this case, the children Uncle En took were dismissed by the guards, as the guards didn’t care for the children themselves. The guards inquired about their origin, but did not press further as they cared little for their well being but their reward, which was Uncle En’s bribe money. Oryx notes that she took comfort in nature, a symbol of love which she could not receive now that she was in the hands of Uncle En.
Chapter 6: RosesHere, Oryx is not cared for as a person, but rather as someone who can perform tasks. This dehumanizes Oryx, as her value is only dependent on what profit Uncle En can gain from her work. Thankfully, Oryx is beautiful and can perform easy tasks like selling flowers. Despite this job being given to her for the wrong reasons, she can still maintain her innocence. Her brother, however, must perform sexual acts or other dangerous work since he is not as attractive, which leads him to run away. The loss of her only relative now leaves Oryx alone with a man like Uncle En, who we assume is up to no good. When Oryx is told to follow whatever man attempts to sleep with her, this begins to mix the meaning of love and lust.
Oryx is in an environment where she believes that she is cared for by Uncle En, and even thinks his suggestion for marriage is practical, as he shows “love” for her. Chapter 6: Pixieland JazzOryx tells Jimmy here that she was deeply saddened when Uncle En was murdered. Jimmy sees this situation from our perspective, a sick man who suggested engaging in a relationship with a minor. We cannot understand the relationship Oryx built with this man as this is all Oryx knew of. The struggle to relate and understand leaves Jimmy frustrated and Oryx confused. We then learn about the sexual favours Oryx later performs after the death of Uncle En.
An important lesson is learned through this, which is everything has a price. In her case, her sexual favours each had a price. Applying this to life, we can interpret this as everything in our lives having some sort of value, not necessarily in currency (like Oryx actions).
Oryx was obedient, and says this was helpful as she felt as if she was in no danger when she did what she was told. This supports her lack of own opinion or thought, conforming to the wants of others. Her lack of knowledge on consent frustrated Jimmy, and further shows the brainwashing Oryx experienced in the life she grew up in. She appears oblivious to evil ideas and gets uncomfortable when Jimmy asks her so many questions about her past in Pixieland. Oryx takes great interest in Jimmy, but similar to how Crake sees Jimmy, she can’t understand his interest in her sexual favours. Jimmy’s struggle with speaking to Oryx further supports the observed struggle Jimmy has with engaging in relationships (in this case, romantic).