Oryx and Crake

Main characters

  • Snowman, whose original name is Jimmy, is the main protagonist; the story is told from his perspective. The name "Snowman" is short for "abominable Snowman", a reference to the Yeti, a mythical ape-like creature of the Himalaya. For the online-game Extinctathon, Jimmy temporarily also has the animal code name "Thickney" (bush thick-knee or bush stone-curlew, Burhinus grallarius), which Crake chooses for Jimmy from an Australian bird known for inhabiting cemeteries (p. 81).
  • Crake, whose original name is Glenn, is Jimmy's childhood friend; an excellent student in high school, he becomes a brilliant geneticist and turns into a version of the mad scientist when he devises a plan to rid the earth of Homo sapiens and replace this destructive species with a more peaceful and environmentally friendly version. His code-name for Extinctathon is from the red-necked crake, a small Australian bird. In Robin Elliott's essay on Atwood, he explains the parallels between Glenn and the famous pianist Glenn Gould. Not only are their names the same, but also in the novel it is said that he is named after a famous pianist. Furthermore, Atwood has explained that Glenn has Asperger syndrome, just like the pianist.[7][8]
  • Oryx is a mysterious woman, recognized by Jimmy and Crake as the waif-like girl from a child pornography site. Crake hires her for sexual services and as a teacher to the Crakers, but she tries to secretly become Jimmy's lover. After the catastrophe, her memory continues to haunt Snowman. Her name is from the oryx, an African antelope: "It's not even her real name, which he'd never known anyway; it's only a word. It's a mantra" (p. 110). She is described as likely originating from the South or South-East Asian region.
  • Sharon is Jimmy's mother. She once worked at OrganInc like her husband, but stopped due to an untreated nervous breakdown. She is depressed and fights with Jimmy's father often. Jimmy vies for his mother's attention, but she spends much of her time sitting in her bathrobe and smoking. Eventually, Sharon runs away from the HelthWyzer compound, abandoning her son and taking his treasured genetically engineered pet rakunk named "Killer." Jimmy is haunted by his mother's absence, and is visited often by CorpSeCorps inspectors attempting to track her whereabouts.
  • Jimmy's father, unnamed in the book, works first for OrganInc and later for HelthWyzer as a scientist. He is heavily involved in the development of pigoons. He is more pragmatic about the morality of genetic splicing than his wife. After Jimmy's mother deserts the compound, he pursues a relationship with his laboratory technician, Ramona, and they eventually marry.
  • Ramona is one of Jimmy's father's lab technicians at OrganInc. Ramona, Jimmy, and Jimmy's father frequently go out to eat together. When Jimmy's father leaves OrganInc to accept a new position at HelthWyzer, Ramona makes the move with him. After Jimmy's mother's mysterious departure, Ramona moves in and takes on a motherly role in Jimmy's life.

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