Oryx and Crake

Oryx and Crake Summary and Analysis of Chapter 12



Snowman hobbles toward the dome, slowed down by his injured foot. Near midday, the sun makes the pavement too hot for him to walk on, so he takes a break. Hunched under his sheet in the shade of one of the watchtowers he worries about the sun scorching him through the layers of fabric and sunscreen. As he sweats under his makeshift tent, he questions why he was brought into this situation by an unnamed “him.” Snowman has an image of himself pristinely dressed, waiting for Oryx. He did not mean anyone any harm.

Jimmy was having a hard time waking up. He had been hiding from the world. Jimmy’s boss had not come to complain, he guessed that they knew about his mother’s execution. Perhaps now, he thought, the Corpsmen would leave him alone. The voice of his phallic clock encouraged him to “get it up.” He found the clock insulting although he had once found it humorous. He considered getting out of bed to grab a beer. The night before one of his lovers had arrived with food and Scotch, stating that she had been concerned about him. She left after Jimmy challenged her to leave her husband if she cared about him so much. When she replied that she also loved her husband, Jimmy harshly said that she only cared about him from the waist down. After the fight, she cried. Jimmy had sex with her and actually enjoyed it even though she did not. He wondered if he would ever see her again. He surmised that he would because she genuinely seemed to want to save him from his sadness.

Soon enough the intercom buzzed. He thought his lover had returned. Instead, he was surprised to hear Crake’s voice on the other end. Jimmy realized that Crake was probably the only person that he wanted to see. Crake looked much as he always had. Crake told Jimmy that he had tried to email him after learning about his mother. Jimmy admitted to not having had checked his email. Crake asked Jimmy to go with him to the pleeblands. Jimmy knew that if Crake had passes to the pleeblands that he must be a very important person.

As they headed to New New York in a Corps car with an armed driver, Crake injected Jimmy with a short-term vaccine to help prevent infection with any bugs that might be running rampant in the disease-ridden pleeblands. Crake also handed Jimmy a nose cone to filter the dirty pleebland air.

Jimmy had never visited the pleeblands before. He was overwhelmed by the number of people and the fact that they did not look the way that the Compounders depicted them. They looked normal. Unlike the Compounders, deformities and crooked teeth existed in the pleeblands. Crake takes Jimmy to the Street of Dreams—an area of New New York where Rejoov’s numerous body-oriented products are sold. Jimmy and Crake head out for a drink. After indulging in spirit and rich food, they indulged in women. The next morning Crake offered Jimmy a job at Rejoov.


Jimmy returned to work at AnooYoo the Monday following his weekend with Crake. To his surprise, he was greeted by several of his superiors, thanking him for his service to the company. He was to be given a generous severance package, more than what he deserved. His bosses wished him luck at his new job. Everything had been arranged for his move and trip to his new home.

Jimmy was given a room at a special VIP guest hotel for his first night at RejoovenEsense. In the distance, from his hotel window, he could see the dome of the Paradice building. The following day Crake took him on a tour of the entire compound. Jimmy was impressed at the level of cleanliness and beauty that the Compound possessed. Jimmy asked Crake what funded the lavishness of RejoovenEsense. Crake vaguely replied that the human condition did.

After a luxurious lunch at one of the nicer restaurants on the Compound, Crake began to tell Jimmy about his unit, Paradice. He explained to Jimmy that he was working on immortality. Jimmy was doubtful about Crake’s ability to accomplish such a feat. Crake told Jimmy that there were millions of dollars invested in the research and development of his project.

Crake explained that Paradice focused on two main projects. The first involved the creation of a pill, BlyssPluss, which eliminated many of the non-biological causes of death. In other words, it removed misplaced sexual energy. Crake saw this as the main indirect cause of death. The pill accomplished this by protecting the user from diseases, providing an unlimited libido, and extending youth. Crake explained that the pill would also serve as a permanent form of birth control. However, he did not plan to advertise this last fact. The premise of such a mass sterilization was to reduce the population size so that there were more resources to go around. Crake thought that this, by definition, would remove many causes of armed conflict. Crake admitted that the pill still needed some tweaks, as there had been some unfortunate side effects in the clinical trial stage. Crake told Jimmy that there were millions of dollars to be made in the project. Jimmy was to be in charge of the advertising.


After finishing lunch, Jimmy and Crake went to visit Paradice. The complex was extremely guarded—Corpsmen were not allowed inside. Crake wanted to make sure that the integrity of the project was maintained. The facility had its own guards. After walking through an airlock, they entered a large room full of people working in front of screens. Each staff member had a nametag that carried the name of an extinct animal. Jimmy immediately recognized this as being related to the game he used to play with Crake, Extinctathon. Crake explained that these individuals were all Grandmasters of the game.

All of the individuals were involved in many of the acts of bioterrorism that once plagued society. Crake got a hold of them before they were caught. In exchange for a new identity, they went to work for him. A few had abandoned the project early on; Crake was forced to eliminate them from the picture. Jimmy wondered if any of the people knew his mother. Crake quickly whisked him onward.


Crake and Jimmy stopped in at Crake’s office. Jimmy slowly took in the surroundings—stopping to read all of the magnets on the fridge of Crake’s mini-bar.

Crake wanted Jimmy’s full attention. He was going to explain what else they were doing at Paradice—the main project. Crake showed Jimmy a large one-way mirror. Behind it were shrubs and a blue sky. It was the first time that Jimmy saw the Crakers. He admired their beauty, turned to Crake, and asked if they were robots. Crake said that they were the equivalent of floor models at a furniture store.

Later that evening Crake told Jimmy the complex number of splices that were made in order to produce a Craker. The Crakers were self-reproducing—Crake had programmed them to die at age 30 to avoid any of the sickness and anxiety related to old age. This was Crake’s view of immortality: life with no fear of death. Across the world, other companies were trying to come up with similar prototypes so the existence of the Crakers was top secret. They were endowed with fortified immune defenses to combat any illness they might pick up from the staff. All of the scientists who worked in Paradice were prohibited from leaving the complex. Only Crake was allowed to leave. Jimmy was also to be an exception to the rule. Crake explained that the MaddAddam crew was only allowed to leave the complex after the company had gone public with their creation.

Jimmy could see how this project would appeal to a wide variety of people. Who groups of people could be programmed for beauty and kindness. The BlyssPluss pill and the Craker project were invented to work together. The reduced birth rates of humans would allow the Crakers to serve as an alternate to the human species.

Crake was amazed by what his team had accomplished. Pseudospeciation, for example, had been eliminated by programming the Crakers not to notice differences in skin color. As they were strict vegetarians, they had no need to kill animals or farm. They survived simply on grass and leaves. A simple species, they had no need to create shelters or money or anything else of inheritance. That which so many of humankind fought over was eliminated from the picture in the world of the Crakers.

Crake explained to Jimmy that they had done market research on the different qualities that buyers might want in their Craker. Jimmy asked if they could speak, Crake answered affirmatively. Jimmy wanted to know if they had the ability to tell jokes. Crake said that they were still working on that.

That evening Jimmy was moved into a suite inside of the Paradice complex. All of his things were there with a sizeable number of new additions. Everything was to his liking.

Crake in Love

Lightning and thunder resound over Snowman who lies crouched on the rampart. He thinks about how at this point in the story, a play would say Enter Oryx. It would be a fatal moment. However, Snowman cannot decide which moment is actually the fatal one. Oryx entered so many times—as a child in a porno, as a teenager on TV rescued from a locked garage, as a stark naked teacher to the Crakers. He has so many images of her entering his world that he is not sure which one would be considered the fatal one. He hears her laugh in his ear.

Jimmy had not seen Oryx at first. She blended into the crowd of naked Crakers with her beauty. It was only a few days later, when Crake was showing him how to work the controls of the camera, that he spotted her face. Jimmy was full of both happiness and fear at that moment. She was now a real person—not just an image. He asked Crake who the woman was. Crake explained that she was serving as a go-between, someone who could teach the Crakers about botany and zoology.

Oryx’s lessons with the Crakers were short. A specialist would go over all of the details of the day’s lesson with Oryx before she entered the Crakers’ home. Sprayed with a citrus chemical to hide her non-Craker scent, she would creep into their arena through a hidden door behind foliage.

Jimmy wanted to know how Crake met Oryx. The Student Services office at Watson-Crick had arranged for Oryx to be brought to Crake at his request. Crake had given them the print out from the internet that he and Jimmy had seen years ago in order to help the office find her. When Crake became the head of Paradice, he hired Oryx to work alongside him.

Oryx emerged from the shower room with her damp hair braided. She shook Jimmy’s hand and the three of them went to have coffee. Oryx explained that she found the Crakers very relaxing. Jimmy wants to know if the Crakers ever wonder where they came from. Crake realizes that he has missed the point and explains to him that any desire to know such things has been edited out of them. Oryx jumps in and says that they did ask her that very question. She told them that Crake made them. The Crakers, however, were not interested in knowing more.

Jimmy was bothered by Oryx’s presence because he wanted to be near her. He feared the problems that would arise with Crake if he did so, so he avoided it. Whenever he felt the need, he headed off to the pleeblands to satisfy his sexual needs. It did not take away his desire for Oryx. He worked diligently at his job, coming up with catchy phrases to accompany the advertisements for BlyssPluss. At night, when he could not sleep, he would feel sorry for himself.

To Jimmy’s surprise, Oryx seduced him. She came to his suite and quickly had him in bed. Oryx told Jimmy that she did not want to see him sad, especially not about her. Jimmy worried about Crake. Oryx shrugged off Jimmy’s concerns. Crake lived in a world of thoughts and was her boss. He did not have time to spend with her.

Apparently, Oryx’s interpretation of the situation was correct because Crake did not appear to sense anything about Jimmy and Oryx’s relationship. Jimmy thought that perhaps his love for her was blinding. Crake simply did not see what was right in front of him. He was always touching Oryx, something that he had never done with anyone else. In addition, Jimmy sensed that Crake trusted Oryx. She was in charge of making contacts in the pleeblands for the marketing of BlyssPluss.

It was hard on Jimmy when Oryx was away on business. When she returned from a trip, she would come to his room in the middle of the night. Before arriving in Jimmy’s room, she would have already briefed Crake on the details of the trip and satisfied his relatively simple, direct sexual needs. For Oryx, fulfilling Crake’s sexual needs was just a part of her job. Jimmy found Oryx to be new and refreshing each time he was with her. He never seemed to tire of her.

Jimmy always wanted to know the details of Oryx’s past. He wanted to uproot her emotional connections to her troubled past. Oryx, however, did not want to explore these feelings. When asked what happened in the garage she was locked in, she would return the question with a question. Pretending not to know what Jimmy was talking about, Oryx would try to convince Jimmy that he was imagining things. She could not understand why he was so preoccupied with her past. After much pushing, Oryx would finally give in and talk about her past. However, Jimmy was not satisfied with her responses. For example, Oryx spoke only kind words about the man who kept her in his garage. Oryx felt that Jimmy always thought the worst of people.


Snowman knows that the next part of his story is one that has troubled him for a long time. He has replayed it many times. The alternate scenarios that could have taken place haunt him. He wonders if he had objected to Oryx’s trip to get take-out if things would have still turned out the way they did. He wished he had known that something was going to happen, a gut feeling. He did not. That evening she had come to his suite after working with the Crakers. Jimmy had asked her where Crake was. Oryx replied that he was outside of Paradice in a meeting. He asked her if she loved him. Oryx laughed.

Oryx got dressed, ready to head out. Jimmy asked her not to leave. She told Jimmy that she was coming right back; she was only going to pick up a pizza. Jimmy suggested that they drop everything and leave Paradice. Oryx laughed, telling Jimmy that he was funny, and that they were already together. At Jimmy’s suggestion of leaving Crake, Oryx proclaimed that Crake needed them both. Jimmy suggested that Crake might know about their intimate relationship. He had started searching his room for bugs, hidden cameras, and microphones that might be secretly recording the reality of his relationship with Oryx.

Snowman thinks back to the signs that he missed. Crake had once asked him if he would kill someone he loved to spare them pain. Jimmy had been unsure of how to answer because a number of factors would influence his answer. Crake changed the subject by telling Jimmy that he was depending on him to continue the Paradice project if something happened to him. Crake felt that only Jimmy had the empathy required to deal directly with the Crakers. Jimmy asked about Oryx taking over. Crake replied by saying that if he was not around, Oryx would not be around either. Jimmy had taken it as a joke.

Jimmy revealed to Oryx that he was convinced that Crake had been snooping on them. He did not mean it at first, but after it was out in the air, he realized that it could be true. He was not sure if he wanted to scare Oryx or not. Oryx was not convinced. She did not think that Crake would be jealous because he fundamentally did not believe in jealousy. She pointed out that perhaps Jimmy was jealous. Oryx would not leave the project because she believed in it. She was dedicated to seeing it through. Oryx made Jimmy promise that if she and Crake were gone that he would take care of the Crakers. The request made Jimmy anxious, but he agreed.

Snowman wonders why she asked him that. How much did she know about what was about to happen?


Jimmy had waited impatiently at first but as time went on and Oryx had still not appeared his impatience turned into panic. A bulletin came in at nine forty-five describing an outbreak in Brazil. Jimmy received it as he was second in command and Crake was not present. Then, more notices came in. The outbreak was spreading all across the world. It was a major plague.

Jimmy tried to get in touch with Crake but he could not be reached. He watched the news. The bioform appeared to be a hemorrhagic, causing death in a surprisingly short amount of time. Jimmy’s cell phone rang; it was Oryx. She was bawling. Oryx told Jimmy that she did not know; she was sorry. Jimmy, confused, asked her what she meant. Oryx explained that the pills she was selling had been the spreading agent. The line died. Jimmy began to worry about the infection reaching Paradice. What if Oryx was already infected?

The staff of Paradice was worried. They were not sure what to do next. Jimmy, still in charge, did not know what to do either so he simply told them to do nothing. Waiting it out seemed to be their best option. Jimmy told the nervous staff that their main goal was to protect the Paradice models, e.g. the Crakers. Everyone was to be kept out of the complex. Jimmy’s phone beeped, it was Crake. Crake sounded inebriated, a rare occurrence. He claimed that everything was under control. Jimmy angrily replied that nothing was under control. He confronted Crake about the real motives behind the BlyssPluss Pills. Crake said that he would be returning soon—he was at the pizza place. Jimmy hoped that perhaps Crake had found Oryx and would bring her back to safety. He went to check on the Crakers. They slept peacefully under their fabricated night sky.

What happened next remains a fuzzy, soundless memory in Snowman’s mind. Jimmy sat in a chair waiting for Crake to return. He turned on the news only to see even more reports of death. He went to the storeroom and took out a spraygun. He told all of the staff members that they were safe and that they should return to their rooms. Jimmy walked them to the airlock and let them exit to their rooms. He viewed them as already being dead. Nobody was in the inner part of Paradice but he and the Crakers.

At dawn, the monitor beeped. Someone was trying to enter. Jimmy had changed the code, so their old code did not work. He saw Crake on the video monitor. Crake told Jimmy to open the door. Jimmy told Crake that he was not going to let anyone in. Crake objected, saying that he should be an exception. He explained that he and Jimmy were immune to the bioform because the antibody was in the plebe vaccine that they had both used many times. Jimmy opened the door outer door for Crake. Jimmy could see blood on Crake’s clothing. He asked where Oryx was. Crake had Oryx with him. Jimmy held on to the spraygun and opened the inner door. Crake was splattered with blood. He had Oryx across his arms, a knife in one of his hands. Before Jimmy knew what was happening, Crake slit Oryx’s throat. Crake looked directly at Jimmy and said, “I’m counting on you.” Jimmy shot Crake.


Chapter 12 includes one of the two main climaxes of Oryx and Crake. The chapter leads up to this climax through a series of revelations, recalled by Snowman as he walks through the Paradice complex that he once called home. Snowman recalls that he came to work for the project after Crake rescued him from his severe depression following the revelation of his mother’s execution. Jimmy is hired by Crake as the ad producer for the BlyssPluss project. As Snowman plays through his memories, the reader finally begins to learn what Crake had in store for the world. Although Jimmy is not completely onboard with Crake’s deception vis-à-vis the incomplete promises of the BlyssPluss Pill, he agrees to work for Crake after being bombarded with imagery of the big picture. Involuntary sterilization and the creation of a self-reproducing population of humanoid creatures were central to Crake’s plan of improvement of life.

Crake’s ultimate goal was to create a state of immortality. However, as the reader soon learns, Crake’s unique interpretation of the concept reinvented the definition of immortality. It is in this chapter that Crake’s old persona begins to crack, and the beginnings of a mad scientist begin to shine through. For example, inspired by his belief that removing fear of death would result in immortality, he programmed his Paradice models, later referred to as Crakers, to drop dead at the age of 30. In addition, Crake creates a paradoxical situation in which by involuntary sterilizing the world’s population, i.e. permanently harming their reproductive capacity, he hoped to help heal the world of its main problems. War and hunger were two of the sources of suffering that he aimed to eliminate through his BlyssPluss Pill. The ethics and logic of his project are twisted, clear signs of someone who has gone off the deep end.

Another facet of Crake is revealed in this chapter through the reappearance of Oryx. It is learned that Crake was just as smitten with young Oryx as Jimmy was. Using the resources available to him, Crake was able to track her down. Jimmy suspects that he did this because he was in love with her. The relationship between Oryx and Crake is one of great conflict for Jimmy. Jimmy is also in love with Oryx and Crake is his best friend. In the end, an unusual sexual arrangement between the trio helps ease tensions. Jimmy, however, is always skeptical about what Crake might think about the inadvertent ménage-a-trois. He fears what may happen if Crake finds out that Oryx is sleeping with both of them. The sexual relationships that Oryx has with Jimmy and Crake serve to highlight major character differences between the two protagonists. The two men have become inextricably linked in the success of the BlyssPluss project. Crake is the scientific mastermind, whereas Jimmy knows how to sell the product for successful, wide distribution. Oryx’s relationship with Crake is business-like and emotionally simple. Her relationship with Jimmy, on the other hand, is filled with excitement and love. These two contrasting yet simultaneous relationship styles reflect the role that each man has in the BlyssPluss project.

The beginning of the worldwide pandemic is the crescendo of the book’s first climax. As Jimmy pieces together bits of information, he realizes that both he and Oryx have been had by Crake. The sense of betrayal he feels is second only to the panic that courses through his veins. Jimmy assumes a role of leadership that he has never had before. He decides that his primary goal is to keep the Crakers safe. As such, he locks the world out. In this moment, although he does not realize it, Jimmy seals his own fate. The dramatic irony that results from this decision is that by attempting to keep himself safe from disease, he unintentionally elicits a situation that ends up being extremely detrimental for his mental health.

The climax is reached during the fatal moment of the chapter. Crake kills Oryx by slitting her throat. Jimmy then shoots Crake. In a matter of seconds, Jimmy has lost the two most important people in his life, one by his own hand. The trauma that results from this moment is what has been driving his obsessive memories. Jimmy is left with the task of caring for what he believes are the only other sentient beings on the planet, the Crakers. He does this not only because Oryx asked him, but also because he feels a sense of obligation to them. The Crakers become a living metaphor for Jimmy by replaying the relationship he had with his mother years ago. The last thing he wants to do is abandon them. Moreover, Jimmy and the Crakers are now in a symbiotic relationship, each needs the other for survival.