Religious themes in Oryx and Crake.

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On page 206 of Margaret Atwood’s novel Oryx and Crake, protagonist Jimmy wonders, “Why is it he feels some line has been crossed, some boundary transgressed? How much is too much, how far is too far?” Atwood asks this question not only about the happenings in her fictional world but also about our society in the 21st century.

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One of the major thematic conflicts in the novel is that between morality and capitalist gain (that of profit). Discuss where one ends and the other begins. Capitalism has brought about many technological and cultural advancements, but at what cost? What happens in the world of Oryx and Crake when capital interests are allowed to develop unhindered by morality and ethics? Who’s to blame for this? What’s the real motivation here? How is Crake able to distribute the BlyssPluss pill?

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Another aspect that stands in the way of using it just because we have it is the abuse of religion and the deification of man. The creatures that come as a result of Craker’s scientific experiments at some point question the origin of their existence. This question is posed to Oryx and she goes ahead to tell them that they were created by a brilliant man called Crake. They then go ahead and begin treating him like a god. This does not make Crake happy since he has always disliked the arts and humanities, areas he associates with worship (Atwood 311).This worship creates confusion for the human beings who believe in creation by one supreme being and not Crake. Given that Crake was determined to clear all humanity as we know it from the face of the earth and replace them with his version of creatures, the presence of Jimmy and Oryx is accidental. But all the same it is going to cause confusion when they see the crakers worshipping Crake. The crakers make it even more dramatic by starting to worship even Jimmy/Snowman as well.

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Jimmy spends much of the book recalling his relationships with Oryx, a philosophical child prostitute from Southeast Asia, and Crake, a boy-genius with Asperger's syndrome.

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Also, the ability to alter life is evidently now in the hands of Crake, as we are told by Atwood. He even knows what to do to move to the next world where only his creatures (Crakers) will survive. He is prepared to give them certain qualities which he thinks should be part of the ideal creatures. “All it takes is the elimination of one generation. One generation of anything. Beetles, trees, microbes, scientists, speakers of French, whatever. Break the link in time between one generation and the next, and its game over forever” (Atwood 223).Equipped with this level of knowledge, Crake moves forward and actually comes up with his design of humans, who are completely different. He has made them with the ability to live without diseases and other issues that he associates with humanities and arts. An example is discrimination on the grounds of race. He makes his creatures in such a way that they are of different heights as well as skin colors. But they are not tuned to exhibit any emotional attachment and they mate like animals. With this background, it comes out that the availability of scientific knowledge does not mean we use it. It even points to the fact that there should be control on who has the knowledge given that some people like Crake, once in possession of this knowledge, can negatively interfere with the system. After the demise of all humans due to the blysspluss, the onetime birth control pill, the Crakers are the majority and Jimmy is very lonely as the only human. Crake has cleared the human race through the interference with only one generation of humans. Therefore having it does not necessarily mean we use it.

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. What is Crake’s fatal flaw in terms of his character and in terms of his goals for the Crakers? Why does he ultimately fail, not in his creation of them, but in his goals for what they
will become and how they will function in the world?
. Are Crake & Jimmy really friends? Defend your answer.
. How are art, self-expression and the written word portrayed in the novel? How are these concepts related to human culture? What message might Atwood be sending about this?
. Identify some images from the novel that you think are significant and then explain why you think they are important to developing the novel’s themes or characters.
You may respond to any segment of the novel that you find interesting or significant. Just write about why it stands out and explain your reactions to it.
.

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You may choose to approach this essay from any angle you would like: maybe you will argue that no line has been crossed, that society is moving in the right direction and that on fatal decision changed everything in Oryx and Crake rather than a string of scientific developments. Perhaps you’ll argue instead that a line HAS been crossed, that in both the novel and in society, we are playing God and that only pain and suffering can result from destroying nature. You might choose a third option and argue that a line MAY have been crossed in the novel but that no such line has been crossed in the real world.
Again, the choice is yours to make, but you do need to address the question both in terms of the text and in terms of real life.