Snowman wakes in the middle of the night to cold darkness. He feels Oryx coming toward him. She stretches out next to him, just within reach. He tells her that he loves her, that their relationship was not solely sexual for him. Oryx says nothing.
Snowman remembers the tenor of many conversations he had with Oryx back when he was Jimmy. He would ask her a question and she would evade an answer. Thinking he understood her avoidance, he would try to comfort her. Oryx would then respond in a way that made it seem like she had no reason to be comforted.
Snowman tries to piece together the three stories of Oryx—his romantic version, Crake’s story, and Oryx’s own understanding of herself. Oryx was a petite woman with a cat-like face. Jimmy was roughly eight or nine when Oryx was born. Oryx was unsure of the place of her birth—all she could remember was a village with some kind of fields in the distance. She had forgotten the language of her childhood. Oryx’s village was one full of poverty and children. Oryx’s father was ill. Because of the financial strain on the family and Oryx’s young age, she was sold to a man who frequently came to the village to buy children.
The man was finely dressed, considered a respectable businessman by the villagers. The villagers had developed a symbiotic relationship with him; they depended on him to want to continue buying children in exchange for much needed cash. Assuring mothers that their children would be well taken care of, he would cart a few away each time to sell flowers in a large city.
Jimmy was angered by such a practice while Oryx took a more practical view on the matter. Oryx pointed out that without such a custom, many families would have starved. Jimmy would vent his anger to Crake, who also took a very matter-of-fact view on the selling of children. As Crake saw it, it was a necessity in an overpopulated world with limited resources. He points out that unlike humans many species curb their reproductive rates during times of scarcity. Crake equates increased birth rates with man’s ability to foresee his own death. According to Crake, this makes man want to reproduce even more.
The rich man would stay in the village overnight. The next day he would examine the children, paying particular attention to their teeth. Oryx speculated that children who had been passed over for sale must have felt bad. Mothers deluded themselves by telling the children that they would eventually come back when things were better, but the reality was that no child ever returned.
Oryx was sold to the man along with one of her brothers. Oryx thought that the sale of two children indicated that her mother cared for her as it indicated that she did not want Oryx to be alone. The man claimed that he was doing Oryx’s mother a favor, as boys were usually more difficult to handle.
Oryx could not recall the trip from her home to the city. She did remember a few things that happened on the way. The man called himself Uncle En and instructed the children to use this name when addressing him. They exited the village on foot—hurrying quickly to avoid confrontation with predators in the thick jungle.
Traveling through muddy roads, the group stopped only to eat. They eventually crossed a river, the children hoisted across by the gun-carrying men that accompanied them on their journey. They eventually reached Uncle En’s car. They piled into the backseat. The children were driven until nightfall, after which they stopped. They spent the night in the backseat of the car. In the morning, the journey began again. When stopped by two soldiers, Uncle En stated that the children were his nieces and nephews. The soldiers asked Oryx who the man was, when she replied “Uncle En” she was rewarded with a candy. The children cried at night.
Oryx tells Jimmy that having monetary value was not a valid replacement for love. She herself believed that she had both.
The city was chaotic and smelly. Uncle En allowed them time to adjust to their new surroundings. The children who were already present in their crowded apartment room taught them the rules. Uncle En would always be watching them. Several days after Oryx and her brother arrived in the city, three children were taken away to another country. Uncle En said they were going to San Francisco.
Eventually Oryx and her brother were taken to the streets to observe other children selling flowers. There was an entire science to the process. Oryx was given a new name, Susu. She quickly became one of the best rose sellers. Her smile intoxicated foreigners. Oryx’s brother, on the other hand, was not as fortunate. Oryx would take some of his flowers and sell them for him. After a while, Uncle En determined that Oryx’s brother would have to be sold to someone else. The children told Oryx that her brother would be sold to a pimp to become a melon-bum boy. Her brother ran away.
One day a man propositioned Oryx to go into a hotel with her. She declined and later told Uncle En. Uncle En suggested that if he asked again, she should go with the man. The next time she saw the man, she did as Uncle En had requested. She went into the man’s hotel room. The man asked Oryx to remove her dress. She did as she was told. The man removed his clothing, assuring Oryx that she had nothing to fear. He placed Oryx’s hand on his penis. Just at that moment, Uncle En burst into the room. In order to avoid being turned into the authorities, the man gave Uncle En money. Once Uncle En was outside of the hotel, he laughed aloud while asking Oryx if she would like to play the game again. Uncle En was so pleased with Oryx that he praised her and asked her if she would like to marry him. Oryx was happy.
One day a tall, thin man appeared at the apartment. He said that he was now the boss, Uncle En was gone. Later, a girl told Oryx that Uncle En had been killed. His body had been found floating in the water.
At this point in the story, Jimmy interrupts to ask Oryx if there were canals in the city. He still wants to figure out where she was located. Oryx tells him that there were canals, but that many cities had canals. He reassures Jimmy that he should not worry.
Oryx thinks that perhaps Uncle En had fallen victim to the cruelty of his own people—other criminals. She tells Jimmy that she cried when she heard of his death. Jimmy cannot understand why she would have sympathy for a man who used her. Oryx points out that Uncle En could have treated her much worse.
The children left the apartment. They were divided into different groups. Oryx ended up in the group that was to make movies. They drove to a gated, wealthy house that smelled of richness. The children were kept in a room by the kitchen. Their diets improved remarkably, as they were well fed. Instructed to keep quiet, they were locked in the small room.
The next day Oryx was locked into a truck with a few other girls. Two hours later, they were handed off to another man who drove a car with a red parrot imprinted on its side. Jimmy tried to figure out what company this might represent.
The children were eventually taken to a building where the movies were to be made. Many men would come to make movies with the girls. Oryx says that she learned something important about life during this time—that everything has a price. She did what she was told to do in the movies, various sexual acts. When Jimmy asked for details, Oryx reminded him of the picture that he had. He knew exactly what the girls were asked to do.
When the children were not making movies, they watched cartoons, groomed each other, or slept. They were encouraged to keep themselves very clean in order to enhance their purity. Jack, the man who filmed the girls, was an American. He would tell the girls stories about the United States all the while complaining about the local food that made him sick. Jack wanted to do “movie things” during production downtime. Oryx tells Jimmy that she exchanged sexual favors for English lessons. Jimmy became angered at the idea of a young Oryx being taken advantage of by an older man.
Jack called the building where the movies were made Pixieland. The girls never understood what he meant by that. He would play pop music. Jimmy asks what Jack’s last name was but Oryx does not know. According to her, he did not have a second name.
Jack referred to the moviemaking as working. Oryx turns to Jimmy and tells him that that is all she has to say about her experience. Jimmy asks Oryx if the men raped her. Oryx does not wish to talk about “ugly things” so she avoids the question. Jimmy wants to know if the sex was real. Quixotically, Oryx replies that all sex is real.
Oryx repeatedly haunts Snowman, reminding him of everything he was unable to do before the activation of the virus. For one, Snowman feels that he never really figured Oryx out. Snowman had his own version of Oryx, as did Crake. Oryx viewed her world entirely differently. These three disparaging stories continue to trouble Snowman, mostly because he knows that the questions he have will never be resolved. The mystery of Oryx disappeared when she did.
Snowman’s recollection of Oryx’s childhood offers him a way to pass the time. He remembers how Oryx handled her situation with incredible grace. There is a dramatic tension between Jimmy and Oryx in this series of recollections because Jimmy wants to be angry; he wants to seek revenge for what he feels was done wrong to Oryx.
Oryx, on the other hand, feels incredibly differently. She sees the world through the eyes of an optimist. Instead of concentrating on what went wrong, she seeks out the morsels of goodness in the darkest of times. Although not explicitly stated, it stands to reason that Jimmy, or Snowman as he currently calls himself, would be jealous of Oryx’s ability to do this for his world is incredibly bleak.
The three differing perspectives give rise to a interweaving of the main characters. The three protagonists, Oryx, Crake, and Jimmy/Snowman, complement each other with their diverging viewpoints. For example, whereas Oryx is an optimist, Jimmy/Snowman is a pessimist and Crake is a realist. Crake’s obsessive pragmatism is matched by Oryx’s compassion and Jimmy/Snowman’s romanticism. These various positions come to the forefront during Snowman’s recounting of Oryx’s past.
Although Oryx has gone through a harrowing ordeal in being sold as a young child, she manages to see the good things that resulted from this life trajectory. For one, she is surrounded by people she cares deeply about, has a job that she believes in, and is able to speak English. None of these would have been likely to happen if she had not been sold as a child. Jimmy/Snowman, on the other hand, is outraged at her ordeals. His anger reflects on his inability to cope in difficult situations, a quality that has followed him around since the advent of his own childhood traumas. Crake remains mostly silent on these issues. Together, these three main characters symbolically represent different elements of humanity that come to play in the destruction of mankind. In other words, each provides a lesson on the dangers of extremes and serves as an ongoing source of conflict in the text.