Oryx and Crake

Oryx and Crake Summary and Analysis of Chapter 5



Snowman sits near the trees. He feels better now that the weather has cooled off. He is hungry. He gazes out at the rooftops in front of him. A rabbit passes by. He yearns to kill the rabbit for food. However, he decides against it, as rabbits are Children of Oryx. He curses himself for inadvertently making such difficult rules for himself while laying down the law for the Crakers. Oryx was the mother of all creatures; Crake was the father of the Crakers. A star appears in the sky and he recalls a poem. He closes his eyes and makes a wish that he knows is not going to come true.

The children approach Snowman while his eyes are shut. They ask him to whom he is talking. He responds by telling them that he is talking to Crake. He tries to shoo the children away by telling them that if they do not stop asking questions that “[they’ll] be toast.” The children do not understand this idiom and Snowman internally chastises himself for having used it.

After he shoos the children away he ponders how he might explain toast the children. He realizes that it would be impossible to do so without explaining so many other things with which they are unfamiliar. The thought depresses him.


As the sun begins to set, Snowman thanks the creator of the names of colors. He thinks of the great irony of Crake: a person who thought so little of humanity in spite of possessing a great amount of creativity and intelligence.

Snowman hears voices from where the Crakers live. The men are approaching him holding torches, the women directly behind them. Each week the female Crakers bring Snowman a grilled fish. A Craker named Abraham hands the fish over to him. Snowman smirks at the humor in the way Crake named his creations; they are all named after important historical figures.

The Crakers bring Snowman a fish every week because he has told them that this is the will of Oryx. Oryx sacrifices the life of one fish every week so that Snowman may eat it. The Crakers hunt and prepare the fish for him. Snowman laments not having stated this rule differently, he should have asked for more fish. He gobbles the fish down, licks his fingers, and throws the bones in the ocean.

The Crakers gather around Snowman and ask him to tell him a story about the beginning. He tells them that in the beginning everything was chaos. People killed one another without regard. They also readily killed and ate the Children of Oryx, i.e. animals. Crake removed the chaos from the world and created space for his creations to prosper. The Crakers join in on the familiar tale. They praise Crake for his work, which angers Snowman because Crake had not believed in God. Snowman wishes that they would worship him instead. They ask him one last thing—the story of Crake’s birth. Snowman replies simply by stating that Crake was never born, he instead descended from the clouds. He shoos the Crakers away.


Snowman climbs into his sleeping place after the Crakers depart. He listens to the noises of his environment—the bugs, the birds, the leaves. He hears the Crakers singing in the distance and admires their unique voices. Part of him feels excluded from the community that they share. However, he knows that there is no way that he can ever truly be a part of them.

Snowman shivers under his thin blanket. After failing to fall asleep, he climbs down to retrieve his Scotch bottle. His turn to alcohol was something he used to do more often when alcohol was more plentiful. He decides that he should no longer hoard his last bit of alcohol. Cursing Crake, he climbs back into the tree and greedily drinks the Scotch. Wolvogs, fierce animals with the appearance of domesticated dogs, soon surround the base of his tree. Snowman yells at them and throws down the empty bottle.

After the departure of the wolvogs, Snowman lays down. He gazes at the stars while recalling esoteric facts about the human body. He calls out to Oryx hoping that he can conjure her tonight. When she fails to show up, he masturbates alone in the dark.


Although Crake genetically engineered the Crakers, Snowman has been left with the task of building their moral and philosophical universe. Crake attempted to edit out many of the qualities that he felt were ultimately pitfalls of the human species. Snowman notes that many of these things cannot be edited out.

For one, the Crakers long to understand where they come from. Crake thought he removed the desire to worship a higher being. Ironically, it appears that Crake has unwittingly taken the role of a deity in the Crakers’ world. The Crakers long to have a history, which ultimately proves many of Crake’s hypotheses incorrect.

Crake took much joy in his invention of the Crakers. Snowman, on the other hand, finds the task of explaining the world to the Crakers to be extremely tiring and depressing. They are so unfamiliar with his world that every explanation results in him feeling more isolated than he did before.

Snowman feels the weight of many responsibilities on his shoulders. Namely, he has been charged with ensuring the Crakers’ survival and, unintentionally, has become responsible for remembering that which cannot be remembered by anyone else because he is the last human. The weight of these responsibilities is sometimes crushing for Snowman.

In order to cope with his situation, Snowman often turns to the bottle. Alcohol provides a mental escape from that which has become a living nightmare. At the end of Chapter 5, however, Snowman begins to realize that this will no longer be a viable option because he has run out of liquor. He had already raided the alcohol supplies within a day’s walk. His new alcohol-free existence provides a turning point for the plot as Snowman now has to face that which he has been avoiding.