Oryx and Crake

Oryx and Crake Summary and Analysis of Chapter 8



Jimmy and Crake graduate together from HelthWyzer High in February. The ceremony was traditional—outdoors featuring many formal hats and festive foods. Crake was at the top of the class and as such was recruited by the Watson-Crick Institute, the equivalent of Harvard. Jimmy, an average student with high verbal yet poor math skills, had finally gained entrance to the Martha Graham Academy. Jimmy suspected that he only gained entrance to Martha Graham thanks to a connection his father had with the president of the school.

Jimmy’s father had married Ramona. After so many years, Jimmy’s father was finally able to divorce his mother due to her absence. During the wedding, Jimmy had been drunk and stayed to himself. It bothered him that perhaps Ramona and his father would have a child together, a child that would undoubtedly be far superior to Jimmy. Crake had carried him to his room that night.

Jimmy congratulated Crake at graduation. The only family member present to celebrate with Crake was Uncle Pete. He tried to stay as far away from Crake as possible. Crake’s mother had died the month prior. It was suspected that it was an accident—somehow she had become infected with a killer virus, more than likely at the hospital. Crake could not go visit her because she was in isolation. He watched her die through the window. Jimmy could not understand why Crake was so emotional detached from his mother’s death.


Following graduation Jimmy was invited to spend some time at Uncle Pete’s place in the Moosonee HelthWyzer Gated Vacation Community. Uncle Pete spent most of his time playing golf, leaving Jimmy alone with Crake. They spent their time watching the wars being fought over the new Happicuppa bean. The creation of the bean pushed many small growers out of business. Riots had broken out worldwide. Crake was disturbed by the destruction of forests fueling the planting of the beans. A Boston Coffee Party occurred, protestors dumped crates of the bean in the harbor.

The war got worse after the Lincoln Memorial was bombed. While watching some coverage filmed outside of the Happicuppa headquarters in Maryland, Jimmy saw his mother on the television. Upon seeing her face, Jimmy calls out to Crake to freeze the frame. Crake gave him a glance and changed the channel. Jimmy was full of fear that Uncle Pete had made the connection. He did not want him to call the Corpsmen. Uncle Pete, however, did not appear to notice anything.

Crake later asks Jimmy why he cried out and asked him to freeze the frame. Jimmy does not want to say. Crake correctly guesses that Jimmy saw his mother. Jimmy is convinced that Uncle Pete is in the other room calling the authorities. Crake tells Jimmy that his father had also run away and had gone over an overpass in the pleeblands. Crake confides that Uncle Pete kept trying to have heart-to-heart talks with him, to assure him that his father simply had problems. Jimmy asks Crake if he thinks it is possible that his father simply fell off the overpass. Crake replies, with a smile, that his father was uncoordinated

Snowman reflects on this conversation and wonders what Crake had been trying to tell him. He feels stupid for not being able to read between the lines of his conversation with Crake. Snowman decides that in an attempt to shut out the world, Crake had simply walled himself in.

Applied Rhetoric

After summer vacation, Jimmy and Crake went to their respective schools. They promised to email each other. Jimmy was astounded at Martha Graham's condition. The school was quite literally falling apart. The security was incredibly lax, graffiti covered the walls of the school, the buildings were leaky, and the grounds were generally unkempt. Jimmy decided that he would simply have to buck up and make do.

The Martha Graham Academy had received its name from a famous dancer. The school had been set up by long-gone wealthy liberals from Old New York. Martha Graham was to serve as an arts and humanities school. Many of the subjects that the school had originally sought to teach had been outdated by technology. Declining interest had resulted in the school’s slow degradation. Many students ended up going into advertising. Jimmy decided to study Problematics, as it was best suited for individuals who liked words.

Jimmy was well aware of the type of job he would be able to secure with his degree. Irrespective of the grim outlook, he threw himself into his studies. He shared a dorm room with a girl named Bernice. She was a radical vegan who belonged to God’s Gardeners. Bernice became the bane of Jimmy’s existence because she was unable to accept his beliefs. She would burn his animal-based belongings. After many complaints, he was finally liberated of her and given a new room.

Jimmy began dating women at Martha Graham. He quickly realized that there was a similar logic to many of the women. He would rush to help them through their problems, gathering the details of their troubled lives. Eventually, Jimmy would tell them his stories and they would comfort him. Jimmy let the women try to make him happy. Eventually, they would tire of him and leave him. He repeated this process many times.

The women he dated were well aware of the story of Jimmy’s mother. She became part of his routine, something for them to pity in him. The only one who had not fallen into this trap was Oryx. She had been much more practical about it, stating that perhaps his mother just needed to get away.

Asperger’s U.

Jimmy complained to Crake about his life at Martha Graham via email. He told Crake about the sub-par food and the various creatures he had found crawling around in his room. Jimmy hinted at his sex life, but never spoke in details. He did this mainly because he felt that was the only leg up he had on Crake. Most women were intimidated by him. Crake, on the other hand, revealed little about himself. They would play long games of chess online.

After a while, Crake eventually gave more info about his life at the Watson-Crick Institute. He told Jimmy that it was known as Asperger’s U because of the high level of social awkwardness that the vast majority of students possessed. Most were so wrapped up in their own work that they noticed little else. Crake invited Jimmy to come see for himself during Thanksgiving.

Jimmy was committed to his studies at Martha Graham even though it would have been easy to cheat. Most assignments could be purchased online. He concentrated mostly on the vast number of self-help books in the library. He was fascinated by the ways in which these books manipulated their readers through use of fear and hope. He eventually wrote an outstanding senior thesis on the topic.

Jimmy took the bullet train to Watson-Crick. He watched the dilapidated pleeblands pass by the window. In order to enter Watson-Crick, Jimmy had to pass through tight security. Once again, he was questioned about the whereabouts of his mother. As always, Jimmy told the truth—he did not know. Finally, they let him through. Jimmy was so happy to see Crake that he almost cried.


Jimmy gawked at the facilities at Watson-Crick. The grounds were beautiful—full of flowers and mammoth buildings. Crake lived alone in a plush suite. He had a house cleaning service, and his laundry was done for him. Crake showed Jimmy around the school—taking him to the various departments. Crake called everything “wave of the future” which annoyed Jimmy after a while. Jimmy noted that the women at Watson-Crick left much to be desired. They reminded him of his old roommate, Bernice.

Crake took Jimmy to the BioDefences department, where the school kept its supply of wolvogs, tame-looking dogs that were actually ferocious predators. Jimmy asked Crake what would happen if the wolvogs ever escaped. Crake replied that it would be problematic but that it would not happen because the bars in front of their cages were kept to keep them in. Crake equated the cages to that which keeps Nature and God in check. Jimmy perplexed at Crake’s statement, tells him that he thought he did not believe in God. Crake replies by stating that he does not believe in God or in Nature with a capital N.


Jimmy finally asked Crake if he had a girlfriend on the fourth day of his visit. Crake replied that dating was discouraged at the school as the students were supposed to focus all of their energies on their work. Student services could set up sexual encounters for students who desired such interactions. Jimmy was in disbelief. Crake explained that anything—any color, gender, hair-type, etc.—could be accommodated by the office.

The food at Watson-Crick was worlds better than that at Martha Graham. The food was infused with real ingredients rather than the soy-based imitations that Jimmy was used to eating at his school. Back in Crake’s suite, Jimmy and Crake would scan the internet as they used to when they were younger.

Crake walked Jimmy through a hypothetical situation. Crake suggested that illness was unproductive because it did not generate anything but suffering. He went on to state that the pharmaceutical company's ultimate goal was to eliminate sickness. However, Crake points out that after a certain point the company, to remain functioning, would need more illnesses to cure. Crake tells Jimmy that companies like HelthWyzer are not finding cures to diseases but rather creating diseases. Crake’s father believed the same thing and this is why Crake believes that he was eliminated; his father’s death made to look like a suicide to conceal the real motives.


The final evening of Jimmy’s trip Crake asked him if he would like to play Extinctathon, the game that had given Crake his nickname. At first, Jimmy could not remember the game—it had been so long since he had thought of it. He could not believe that it was still up and running.

Crake was now a Grandmaster of the game. As he logged into the game, the screen showed that MaddAddam would meet him. Jimmy asked Crake if MaddAddam was a person. Crake replied that MaddAddam was a conglomerate—several groups of individuals. Using the picture of Oryx as a back door to hidden files, Crake showed Jimmy a string of news articles related to various attacks. From the destruction of Happicuppa crops to destructive transgenic animals, the havoc contained in the pages was incredible. Jimmy began to feel uncomfortable. He thought that perhaps Crake was trying to play a trick on him, to frighten him. Crake explained that at first he thought they were simply a radical group. Over time, he came to realize that they were systematically trying to take down the entire system. Jimmy became concerned that Crake would be caught and implicated in the groups’ plots.

During the first night that Jimmy was visiting, he had woken to screaming. The next day, Jimmy had remarked that Crake must have had an intense nightmare. Crake claimed that he never remembered his dreams. Snowman knows why Crake screamed: he was currently living Crake’s nightmares.


Jimmy has a tremendously difficult time processing his father’s marriage to Ramona. Although he likes Ramona a fair deal, the definitive dissolution of his parents’ marriage bring backs memories that he has yet to deal with. During this time of emotional turmoil, Crake comes to comfort him. Although Crake is often depicted as a primarily logic-driven person, a few situations that arise demonstrate his empathetic side. This aspect of his personality is likely the driving force behind his logic-driven ideas—he cares about people enough to want to do something drastic to help them.

Crake provides the primary source of support for Jimmy during his formative adolescent years. The move to college signifies a split that allows each of these two protagonists to develop apart from one another. Due to limited contact and distance, both Jimmy and Crake mature separately from one another. This physical and emotional space is that which Snowman finds himself reflecting on. What exactly happened to Crake during that time?

Jimmy’s education at Martha Graham Academy nurtured his love of words and artistic self-expression. Although he was not like the average Martha Graham student, he felt that he fit in intellectually. Society’s undervaluing of verbal talent was readily visible in the deteriorated nature of the school. In addition, Jimmy encountered some anti-establishmentarian individuals at the school. These individuals bolstered the notion that science reigned supreme, while art was secondary. This theme is replayed repeatedly throughout the novel, eventually coming to an apex at the destruction of humanity.

During a visit to the Watson-Crick Institute, Jimmy learns of what life in the highly valued world of science is like. Everything from the accommodations to the food to the facilities is far superior to those at his school. Jimmy also learns of Crake’s involvement with MaddAddam, a radical group that uses science against the capital-driven pharmaceutical/scientific companies. Jimmy’s concern regarding Crake’s possible affiliation with the group scares him. This fear can be read in at least two ways—the first being one that demonstrates Jimmy’s complacency in the current world order. Rebellion against the status quo is terrifying for Jimmy. The second thing that Jimmy’s trepidation indicates is the level at which he values his relationship with Crake.

Snowman recalls something that he witnessed during this particular trip to Watson-Crick: Crake’s recurrent nightmares. Crake claimed that he could not remember anything in the morning. Jimmy suspects that he is living Crake’s nightmare—in other words, that he is experiencing that which Crake would have never intended. Although the reader is unsure of what exactly Snowman is referring to at this point in the novel, the passage serves as a foreshadowing of the progression of the story.