The Dystopic Elements in Oryx and Crake, a Novel by Margaret Atwood

Topics: Oryx And Crake

Dystopic literature includes novels or stories based on fictitious worlds and societies describing a captivating vision of the future. This type of literature often depicts a specific group of people confined to only knowing what they are taught, which limits their understanding of the world in significant ways. Dystopian novels of this sort portray their characters as inferior to their ruler(s), who treat them as if they are nobodies. Typically in a dystopian society, the people are governed by an oppressive power or a creator of some sort, as is the case in Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake.

The creator is the source of limited knowledge that is expressed to the people of the society. Oryx and Crakeillustrates this type of dystopian society through the Crakers’, genetically modified humans, and isolation from the outside world. The novel also describes the lack of knowledge the Crakersmust embrace because of their innocence and vulnerability.

In the novel, Atwood illustrates the lack of knowledge and understanding that the Crakers themselves possess, They are known as the “Children of Crake” and were made by Crake himself with “bones made out of coral and the beach”, and their “flesh out of a manga”.

They are “genetically altered to have more adaptable traits” and do not have many of the negative traits humanity has today. They are “spliced with a variety of animal traits” to make them more durable, and Crake has added his little additions to help to keep them away from the mistakes of men themselves partake in (Crakers and Pigeons).

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An unlikely prophet figure, named “Snowman” must answer all of their questions regarding a variety of different things that come across their minds. They have a huge desire to be aware of their origins and beliefs, but Snowman doesn’t always tell them the cruth, The Crakersadmire Snowman for his abililty o satisfy them with his storytelling that give them some type of knowledge they did not have before. TheCrakers are always nagging Snowman about Crake wanting to know every little detail about him, For example, the Crakers beg him to explain to them the deeds of Crake or ask when he was born, but Snowman lies and cells them that he was never born and came from the ssky (Atwood 102). It is evident that the easiest thing to do is lie to the Crakers because trying to explain anything around the truth would simply confuse them, With the Crakers not having a clue as to whom oF what God even is, they admire both Oryx and Crake as if that’s what they were (Atwood 104), When Snowman does not always seem to have an answer, like when the CCrakers long for “feathers” like him but are informed they can’t grow them, he pretends to ask Crake by holding up his watch to the sky and placing it to his ear as if he is listening to it just to tell them, “Crake says you can’t” (Atwood 9). They are completely unaware that they are an the earth as trial-and-error research and will keel over at the age of 30 because none of them have lived long enough to die yet (Atwood 303). They continue to be absent minded throughout the novel for the sake of their safety and protection in which unfortunately wasn’t Crakes intention all along. Crake himself has the hope that these creatures will learn to thrive and ultimately replace the human race.

Furthermore, knowing that the Crakers are a confined group of people in an individual society, they face alienation from the outside world in the beginning of Oryx and Crake. Towards the end there is more-ar-less no ane else left in the world but yet they are still posed to danger. Where their alienation occurs from the start is in a complex known as “Paradice.” Paradiceis Crakes “life work,” consisting of two projects. One of them is the creation of the BlyssPluss Pill, which has three capabilities all in one: protection from all known sexually transmitted diseases,an unlimited supply of sexual prowessithe reduction frustration;the blocking of testosterone leading to jealousy and violence; the elimination of low-self worth; and prolonging youth. However, there is one extra capability, sterilization, in which Crake refuses to advertise. The other project, the main project of Paradice, is the creation of the Crakers. Crakers were kept behind a one-way mirror. They were the next-to-end result of seven years of intensive trial-and-error research (Atwood 303). The creation of these creatures representCrake’s view of immortality. Crake foresees immortality itself as a concept. Crake himself states “If you take ‘mortality’ as being, not death, buc the foreknowledge of it and the fear of it, then immortality’ is the absence of such fear. Babies are immortal. Edit out the fear, and you’ll be…” . By stating this, Crake explains a different explanation along the concept of immortality. The Crakers existence is shaped by Crakes hunt to “achieve a corporal festation of his version of immortality” (Oryx and Crake Quotes and Analysis). Crake created these creatures with limitationsincludingthings along the lines of not having the desire to hear stories and noknowledge of their origins and beliefs. As one my notice in the novel, the Crakersconstantlyrequest Snowman to tell them stories of both Oryx and Crake, but mainly Crake, Also, the Crakers have an understanding that animals are known as the “Children of Oryx” and are not supposed to injure ar put a Child of Crake in danger, so therefore when the bobkitten bit the Craker they came to some understanding right away that something was not right, With them having the ability to put things together like this it is known that Crake’s creationhas failed, and the Crakers are bound to have ar develop many more abilitiesthat they were not intended to have. With the Crakers having these abilities, the future that Crake aimed for is no longer promised and will become a complete disaster.

In regards to Oryx ani ‘logies in Margarete, aul and Crake, Rozelle, doesn’texactly agree thatthe term dystopian itself clearly labels the novel, but rather leans more towards the term*hopeful”, Rozelle explains that Snowman scrutinizes his own ecological footprint along side Crake’s genetically modified species” and with that, he lacks the capacity to replicate the unsuitable methods of the past. However, his “transformation provides speculative groundwork for a new convergence of humans and ecosystems, and like the Jiminal land itself, Snowman embodies the resilienceand promise of places considered doomed” (Liminal Ecologies in Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake). What Rozelle is trying to argue is that Snowman is trying to forget his terrible past so that he can work towards a new future The future that he is longingly thriving for is with pure hopefulness. In support of this, one may, agree that this is fairly true, Snowman is technically the last man standing for the job, and itis in his hands to watch over and protect the Crakers for Crake himself. Snowman, in ways, tries to convince the Crakersthat they’re in for a good life and promises them places that are already considered doomed.Rozelleessentially argues that Snowman stands for, or in other words has hope for, a way in which the human race has the possibility to continue. It comes to show that Snowman learned a great deal from Crakes life projects by coming to the conclusion of the human life as he may know it becomingincapable to maintain and cantral_Something else Lee said that seems fitting for this lagic, isthe “critical disjuncture between ecological crisis and literary approaches that do not grant the ecological world any claim to “reality” seems a missed opportunity to scrutinize the environmental implications of Atwood’s work”(Liminal Ecologies in Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake).In other words, what Crake created wasn’tso mad scientist after all, but a chance for the world as a whole to reclaim its restorative nature through a new and indigenousspecies,

On the other hand, author of Technics and the Human at Zero-Hour, Cooke, tends to support the futuristic elements in Oryx and Crake. He agrees to the concept of this novel being of 4 dystopian setting “in the aftermath of a biotechnological apocalypse”. He portrays the questionof “How can we speak of the end of the human, when “we” are still here, insisting on our humanity? And could there ever not be a “we”?Cooke further explains, that the novel reflects upon what it might mean topropose an end to the human race by the means of a “biotechnological scenario”. In more detail, he supportsthat this places the human race and modern day society in both jeopardy and question (Technics and the Human at Zero-Hour). This all ties in withOryx and Crake because Crakes prajects, in hopes of succeeding, did not. Due to this failure, he has put both the human race and what is left of saciety in jeopardy and leaves the (Crakers in question of what was really to come of this mess.

In conclusion, dystopic literature does indeeddepict specific groups of people confined to only knowing what they are taught, limiting their understanding of the world in significant ways. Dystopic literature also portrays a captivating vision of the future, in ways that may leave the society in a crisis. Atwood strongly puts into words why the so called “genetically modified humans” face isalation from the outside warldand their ability embrace the lack af knawledge
they have due to the characteristics of being vulnerable and innocent. Ry looking into other people’s interpretations of Oryx and Crake, itis made known that not everyone agrees on the ssame ideas. One person may strongly agree with the aspect of a novel being that of a dystopian gente, and another may consider it more af a hopeful vision of the future rather than a catastrophe just as Rozelle essentially envisioned. This compelling idea of dystopia conducts a variety of admiration and questioning about what the world today would be like if someone were to “rewrite all the rules of the human condition and begin again with version two of the human race.

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The Dystopic Elements in Oryx and Crake, a Novel by Margaret Atwood. (2022, Jun 11). Retrieved from

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