106 pages 3 hours read

Margaret Atwood

Oryx and Crake

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2003

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Important Quotes

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“The rewards in the case of success would be enormous, Jimmy’s father explained, doing the straight-talking man-to-man act he had recently adopted with Jimmy. What well-to-do and once-young, once-beautiful woman or man, cranked up on hormonal supplements and shot full of vitamins but hampered by the unforgiving mirror, wouldn’t sell their house, their gated retirement villa, their kids, and their soul to get a second kick at the sexual can? NooSkins for Olds, said the snappy logo.”

(Chapter 4, Page 55)

Jimmy’s father works for a company that caters to an ongoing of the human race: the desire for youth and beauty. Mirroring claims made by the beauty and plastic surgery industries, NooSkins preys on consumers’ desperation (and money) by claiming that they can offer a second chance thanks to a range of hormones and vitamins.  

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“‘Be that as it may,’ she said – a sign that she wasn’t going to give in.

‘Be that as it may, there’s research and there’s research. What you’re doing – this pig brain thing. You’re interfering with the building blocks of life. It’s immoral. It’s . . . sacrilegious.’” 

(Chapter 4, Page 57)

Genetic engineering was and is a controversial subject, and this is highlighted by Jimmy’s mother. She has become increasingly disillusioned with her life and marriage, and she does not approve of the kind of research and experimentation with which her husband has become involved. When he defends his work, she argues that it is immoral and sacrilegious. This statement thus not only reiterates the strained relationship between Jimmy’s parents but poses a moral and religious question to the reader.

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“‘Hang on to the words,’ he tells himself. The odd words, the old words, the rare ones. Valance. Norn. Serendipity. Pibroch. Lubricious. When they’re gone out of his head, these words, they’ll be gone, everywhere, forever. As if they had never been.”

(Chapter 4, Page 68)

Snowman often finds himself thinking of words that he remembers from his past life. While he finds it upsetting to think of his past in some ways, he feels that he alone is keeping it alive, in particular, through his memories of words. Were he to forget these words, it would be as though they never existed. Also, as this passage shows, he finds words that are old or unusual especially worthy of preservation due to their rarity.