Allow me to start you off with a question. Isn’t it hard to comprehend the idea of a novel, without any characters? Think a second. Well yes. There will be no dialogue, no experiences hence no story to convey, and no novel to start with. Therefore characters are one of the most necessary elements of a novel; and this is what this oral presentation will scrutinize. This oral presentation aims to answer these questions during the process: how are the characters presented on paper, how do may the readers interpret the characters, what are the purposes of the characters and their actions. These questions will refer to the three main characters, Jimmy, Crake and Oryx, found in the novel Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood; portraying a dystopic world in our near future.
Jimmy is the main character of the novel. The author presents Jimmy to us at the beginning of the book as a naked and ruined man, which has somehow survived a disaster of some sort. He is a vulnerable creature that has managed to stay alive in a new dangerous and vicious ecosystem. It is evident that Jimmy is a weak organism of this ecosystem from how Jimmy’s skin is full of bug bites, his sensitivity against the bright sun, the lack of food and the fact that he has to sleep in tree to be safe from creature crawling under him during the night.
Jimmy renames himself as the “Abominable Snowman” after surviving human extinction. However he changes it to snowman thinking he will melt into nothingness similar to a real snowman. Snowman is presented as an inferior of the environment. He was also a weak individual in society as a child. Jimmy found it hard to form connections with other humans. The most important reasons for this is Jimmy’s parents not spending any time with him, even when it was Jimmy’s birthday, and his mother abandoning Jimmy to engage in anti-compound activities. Jimmy tries to make friends by performing small funny shows of his parents fighting at school. Nevertheless he still lacks the ability to form true friendships.
The readers can easily observe the different stages of Jimmy’s life and how he develops through the years. Jimmy suffers similar to any average person today will suffer from a dysfunctional family. There are no exaggerations. Even when Jimmy gets into a relation with his true love, Oryx, he continues having difficulty empathizing. Jimmy can’t prevent himself from searching into Oryx’s past although she refuses. Small details similar to this add the extra realism to this character; allowing the reader to easily connect to the story through this realistic character.
Jimmy continues to develop. After the disaster, although he had a great talent for language and word usage, Jimmy encounters problems recalling the fancy words he once knew and loved; allowing the reader to fully understand the consequences of the disaster on Jimmy, both physically and mentally. Jimmy accurately fills the purpose of portraying an average person struggling to survive in harsh conditions. Bringing the theme “survival” up to surface. Also the novel is told from the depth of Jimmy’s mind. Allowing the reader to further know how this character thinks and moves helping the author portray a realistic character that the story can be revolved around.
Crake is one of the antagonists of the novel. Crake, previously known as Glenn, is Jimmy’s only friend and vice versa. Crake impresses Jimmy with his ability to make impressions of teachers. He is also very intelligent; intelligent enough to attend the prestigious Watson-Crick institute. Glenn is first presented to us as a silent and intellectual teenager. A good example to show his cleverness is when Crake calculates the position of the man’s hand in there teacher’s jacket at the mall. It is on page 85. Both Glenn and Jimmy do what average teenagers do: they play a great deal of video games, watch violent movies and even watch porn together. Glenn acts similar to an average teenager however he lacks the emotions and tenderness. Nonetheless he possesses a strong logic. Glenn only operates from logical theorems like robots we see in science fiction.
When Jimmy and Glenn start playing a game called Extinctathon, Glenn adopts the name Crake (name of an extinct red necked Australian bird). Foreshadowing his, own extinction in near the end of the novel. Although his name changes Crake doesn’t develop through the novel. Crake continues depending only on pure logic at every aspect of life and lacks the human emotions. Crake is blinded from his desire to carry out his logical theorems and kills all of humanity including him. No normal human being can ever dare to think of an action like this. Crake lacks the realism that Jimmy possesses.
Most readers will identify Glenn as the most intelligent kid in class who always has something clever to say. I heard that most people think that Jimmy’s and Crake friendship is improbable. The mentality is that people become friends with people as same as them, intelligent with intelligent, sporty people with sporty people etc. However I think, Jimmy and Crake a perfect match. Both of them have parents that don’t interact with them much. Jimmy’s mother abandons him and his father barely calls with him, only spends his time with his new wife. A similar template can be seen with Crakes parents with slight differences, his mother doesn’t talk much and he has a stepfather “Uncle Pete.” Besides their similarity of their family relations, there are their differences that attract them closer like the different poles of a magnet.
For some their difference in intelligence is a negative factor in their friendship. However, this difference allows the each of them to learn different aspects of life; making their friendship more interesting and causing them to connect more. This is the role of Crake in the book. Allowing the author to write an interesting story of Jimmy’s childhood, showing the how the families of the future are going to be corrupt. Crake also fills in the role of causing the biggest conflict in the book, the extinction of human kind.
Finally there is the beautiful Oryx. She is the only female character from our three main. In the book she is described to have a triangular face, like that of a Siamese cat. The good friends Jimmy and Crake first see her in pornography movie, wearing a garland of flowers and a pink hair ribbon. Before all these Oryx used to live in a poor village as a small child, later being sold to a child trader. She is first thought to sell flowers to tourists then to seduce old man into a trap. Afterwards she starts playing in porn movies. Then she meets Crake through the students’ services of Watson-Crick.
Oryx is very unique character. She is the furthest from average human features. Oryx is extremely adaptive to any condition. She manages to look at the bright side of everything. She believes anything said to hear. Seem is as if she is only programmed to follow orders. Uncle En tells her to go to the hotel room with the man, she doesn’t refuse. She doesn’t have the ability to oppose. Life isn’t about herself it is about the people around her. For example, although she loves Jimmy she still can’t breakup with Crake just because she thinks Crake is doing something to change the world and that she shouldn’t break his feelings and help him as much as possible.
There a few key roles Oryx carries out in the novel. First of course she portrays the horrible events like child trading in the novels dystopic world. Second she becomes the only girl that Jimmy has feelings for. Bringing out his inner emotions to surface allowing him to develop. Finally, she forms the love triangle between the three characters. Actually it is more similar to a “v” shape where Oryx is the point of the shape. This produces a new conflict: a conflict for Jimmy to win his true love entirely from Crake. Another would be Oryx having to choose one of the two. However Oryx isn’t in a state of conflict, when any normal person should. This leaves the character incomplete and alien to readers.
To conclude, all three of the characters are different from each other: Jimmy is the closest representation of us humans, Crake is what robot are like in humans destroying humans thinking they are imperfect, and Oryx is the naï¿½ve beautiful girl that follows anyone that sound convincing. Crake and Oryx may lack the humanlike features; however they have important drives to fulfill. This novel wouldn’t be what it is without them. Nonetheless Jimmy is the strongest and most entertaining character in the Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood.
Throughout the presentation I tried to give a brief background of the characters, how many readers might interpret these characters, and their roles in the novel. Every individual reads and understand differently. Of course, literature pieces are always debatable. Now if there is any question please feel free and thank you listening.