Oryx and Crake

Oryx and Crake Summary and Analysis of Chapter 13



The air has cooled after the storm. Snowman thinks he hears the crows calling Crake’s name, and the crickets calling Oryx’s name. He continues along the rampart. His foot has gotten worse—severely swollen and painful. He thinks that he might be able to find something for his foot in Paradice’s storeroom. It had been Crake’s idea to have such an emergency storeroom. Crake was filled with too many ideas, thinks Snowman.

When he reaches the watchtower that surrounds Paradice’s enclosure, he tries to see if entry via the stairwell would be possible. It is not, so Snowman peers into the ground level looking for any signs of life. After confirming that nothing more harmful than a squirrel lurks below, he uses his sheet to climb down the side of the rampart. He lands on his feet with a painful thump. After moaning on the ground for a few minutes, he is able to regain his wits and continue onward. On his way to the building, he steps on a banana slug. He apologizes to it as a Craker would. The Children of Oryx are not to be harmed.

Snowman reaches the dome and circles around. He knows that the airlock is open. He sighs deeply and proceeds. There, in the corridor of the airlock, lie what remains of Oryx and Crake: a pile of mismatched bones. Snowman is overwhelmed with grief at the sight of his true love and best friend. He cannot figure out how to mourn them properly.

Snowman enters the warm, humid complex. He finds the medical supplies and begins to search for something to heal his ailing foot. He finds a vial of Crake’s pleebland cocktail and downs it. Then, he injects his foot with antibiotics. After making it up to his old suite, he collapses on the dank bed in exhaustion.

He dreams of Alex the parrot. Snowman is happy to see him, an old friend of sorts. Then, Alex turns red and tells him he is going away. Snowman cries out in anguish, asking him not to go. Alex is gone before he knows it. Snowman awakes in the bed, soaked in his own sweat.


When Snowman wakes up, he notes that his foot is a bit improved. He plans to inject another round of Crake’s powerful meds into his foot later on that day. He looks through the various articles of clothing in his old room. All of them seem so foreign and odd now that he is so used to wearing only a sheet. He retrieves some canned goods from the storage closet and serves himself breakfast. Snowman laments that there is no more alcohol left.

After Jimmy had killed Crake, he shut the inner door of the airlock. He left them where they were because he could not bring himself to move their dead bodies. He had returned to his quarters and downed some Scotch. He kept drinking until he passed out. He woke up at the sound of the door buzzer. Former workers trying to get back in were anxiously buzzing. Jimmy ignored them. He eventually made himself eat a bit. He felt horrible.

Later that day, a high-ranking Corpsman had called looking for Crake. Jimmy told him that Crake was not there. The Corpsman suspected that Crake was involved in some kind of scheme relating to the massive pandemic. Jimmy feigned having even more microbe problems inside of the Paradice complex to dissuade the Corpsman from entering. After that, nobody else tried to get in to Paradice; they all ran in the opposite direction.

Jimmy made a point of checking in on the Crakers several times each day. Jimmy began thinking that he should interact with them. The Crakers worried about Oryx’s absence. Jimmy was not able to listen to their attempts to make sense out of everything for long.

When he was not checking in on the Crakers, Jimmy spent the vast majority of his time eating and sleeping. At first, he had followed the trajectory of the disease via the internet. The riots that were documented made for interesting news reports.

Snowman thinks that during the first days of insanity, someone must have let out the pigoons and wolvogs.

There were those that preached of the apocalypse in the streets, confused by the lack of expected fanfare. Infection rates spread on maps. Hastily put together documentaries tried to capture the progression of the disease. Many conspiracy theories floated around. The virus was spreading incredibly fast. Jimmy remembered what Crake had said about the importance of rate in determining the outcome of a situation. Jimmy thinks of all of the clues Crake gave him. He had missed them all.

During the second week of the outbreak, there was a huge effort to contain the virus. Many points of entry and exit were cut off, quarantine areas were established, and hot lines were created. Jimmy noted that the newscasters were changing, their predecessors more than likely dead because of the virus. Jimmy watched a website that featured lights on the areas of the world that were still communicating via satellite. He witnessed their slow demise.

Jimmy must have been in shock. He simply stayed inside of the complex, surviving on Crake’s emergency stores. He was continuously in a state of denial. Jimmy simply could not grasp the level of despair that existed outside of the safety of Paradice. Jimmy began to think. He wondered if Crake had used his own mother as a trial run. Perhaps Uncle Pete had also fallen victim to Crake’s experimental virus. Had Crake been a sociopath? Alternatively, had Crake been someone who simply valued logic above all else? As Jimmy pondered these questions, the slow death of humankind was taking place in front of his eyes.

Slowly, each channel went dead. A few documented their own deaths. Every now and then Jimmy considered killing himself. He could see the disappointment on the faces of Oryx and Crake.

After a while, Jimmy turned to old movies for entertainment. He would sit in the dark in front of a blank screen. Every woman he had ever known would visit him. He took pleasure in these visions because it allowed him to pretend that everyone was still alive.

Jimmy knew that eventually he would have to remove the Crakers from their dome. They were consuming the foliage faster than it was able to grow. He had to wait until the people outside were all dead. He did not want the Crakers to encounter the inexplicable agony of the virus. Jimmy was also protecting himself from the emotional turmoil to which he was not immune.

Snowman wanders from room to room in the dome. On his desk, next to his computer, lie a few sheets of paper. On these sheets, he had written a letter. He re-read the letter to satiate his curiosity. In the letter, he had tried to explain the events that had taken place—the virus, the Crakers, the vaccine. However, he could not seem to get the words right when he wrote this draft, there were numerous places where he had crossed out words in exchange for others.

Jimmy had stopped writing mid-sentence when he tries to address Crake’s possible motivations. Apparently, at the time he had thought that it was of no use to speculate. Snowman crumples up the sheets and lets them fall to the floor. He thought that perhaps he should have mentioned the conspicuous change in Crake’s fridge magnets over time.


Jimmy finally introduced himself to the Crakers on the second Friday of March. He kept his clothes on, choosing a set of khaki clothing for his debut. Upon his arrival, the Crakers gathered around him quietly. Abraham Lincoln, one of the Crakers, addressed Jimmy first. Abraham wanted to know who he was. Jimmy replied simply by stating that his name was Snowman. His new name provided a way for Jimmy to embrace the new, uncertain future. Jimmy and Thickney were long gone. The name allows him to live only in the present.

The Crakers wanted to know from where Snowman had come. Snowman tells them that he hailed from the land of Oryx and Crake. They then asked where Oryx has gone. He replied, with a bit of sadness, that she had things to do. Snowman explained that he has come to take them to a new place. The Crakers did not like this idea because they are happy where they were. Snowman then had to provide explanations for his clothing and his generally odd appearance. His clothing, he explained, is a second, removable skin. His eyes, hair distribution, and skin color stood in stark contrast to that of the Crakers. Snowman told them that his chest hair was little feathers, given to him by Oryx. The Crakers are confused by this, as they do not know what feathers are. Snowman realized that they have not seen anything that exists solely outside of their enclosure. The only animals they are familiar with are the ones to which Oryx introduced them. Snowman explained what birds are to the Crakers and told them that they will see them in their new home. Snowman is amazed by his ability to field the Crakers’ unexpected questions. He knew that he could leave them as they were not his responsibility, but in reality, Snowman and the Crakers had no one else.

Snowman planned their trip ahead of time. By studying a map, he concluded that the park would be the best location for both him and the Crakers. The park had plenty of foliage as well as access to fish for Snowman to eat. The evening before they leave the complex, Snowman gave the Crakers a talk. He communicated to them that they might see many puzzling things but that they should not worry. The two tallest men were to walk directly behind Snowman, advising him if they were to see anything moving up ahead.

The next morning, Snowman opened the airlock and the group began their journey. They passed the bodies of Oryx and Crake, still crumpled on the floor of the airlock. The Crakers never saw Crake alive and Oryx was unrecognizable so their presence does not alarm them. As they passed overturned golf cars and rubble, the Crakers began to ask many questions. Snowman explained most things away by stating that they are a part of the chaos. An agonized man walked toward them; Snowman shot him after he did not back away. Snowman told the Crakers that the agony they see is the result of Crake’s bad dreams. They readily understand this because Crake had not been able to remove dreaming. As they continued onward, many questions were asked. They finally reached the park.

In the evening, the Crakers spotted some birds by the shore. They quickly asked Snowman if those are feathers. He answered affirmatively. They then asked what the name of the place is; Snowman told them that it was called home.


Snowman begins to exhibit signs of slowly losing his grip on reality due to pain, exhaustion, and lack of adequate nutrition. This manifests itself in his following the rules that were outlined for the Crakers. After accidentally stepping on a slug, Snowman apologizes to it as the Crakers have been taught to do. This small action further indicates Snowman’s loneliness; as a social creature, he longs to be a member of a group.

Snowman’s feelings of isolation are only exacerbated by the sight of Oryx and Crake’s bones in the airlock of the Paradice complex. Snowman realizes that he is so deeply saddened by the loss of the two most important people in his life that he cannot even figure out how to mourn them. Snowman is a veritable island, devoid of love and community. The importance of social existence is highlighted in this chapter as Snowman becomes unsure of how to act, like a Craker or like a human. Either one requires affiliation with a group—one that he is clearly not a part of and one that no longer exists.

Snowman’s presence in the Paradice complex elicits more memories. After he killed Crake, he closed the airlock. Essentially, he closed himself off from a reality too stark and terrible to face. In isolation, he tried to make sense of what was happening—eating the stores of food stockpiled by his now dead best friend while watching the population of the planet slowly fizzle away before his eyes. Jimmy was becoming a real-life synecdoche; no longer would the word man represent the entire human population of earth. Instead, the word man was slowly inching toward defining only Jimmy.

In the midst of the mayhem, Jimmy tried to understand what had just happened. Why would Crake have done such a thing? Jimmy cannot decide if his friend had been a sociopath or someone who placed all his value in logic. Unsure of the past, Jimmy turns toward the future. As television networks went off air, he realized that eventually the electricity would go out. He had to start making plans to leave the complex with the Crakers or else they would all be trapped.

The death of Jimmy and subsequent birth of Snowman comes with Jimmy’s first meeting with the Crakers. Having invented a mythology to explain away Oryx’s absence and his divergent presence, Jimmy enters the Crakers’ area. Jimmy’s training in Problematics comes into play as he has not only to sell his version of the world to the Crakers, but also to invent it. Although Crake is responsible for the biological make-up of the Crakers, Snowman paints their corporal existence. Their parallel contributions to the success of the Paradice project are equally important.

As Snowman leads the Crakers to their new beachside home, he has to shoot a few remaining infected people and navigate through piles of abandoned objects and rubble. His explanation to them is that this is part of the chaos that came before their existence. The irony in Snowman’s mythology lies in Crake’s portrayal as someone who wanted to do good, improving the world with his brilliance. Snowman is not sure that this is the truth, but he tells the Crakers this partially to soothe his own conscious.