Character Analysis

Posted: November 26th, 2013

Character Analysis


Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake is a publication that majorly deals with the idea of genetics and its role in human existence. The setting is in apocalyptic world where the first surviving human life is introduced to the reader and is commonly referred to as the Snowman. Atwood heavily uses a recursive storyline that oscillates between the annihilated lifestyle caused by genetic miscalculations and therefore the destruction and the former world that is now a historical thought embedded on Snowman’s memory. The Snowman is the narrator and protagonist in the publication. Thereby through his flashbacks on the civil world that he existed as a human known as Jimmy, the other characters are developed (Atwood, 2003). We learn that the biological disaster has been caused by Crake, Jimmy’s best ally, and their involvement with the mystifying female, Oryx, which adds an intricate detail in the plot. Jimmy’s father is treated as a minor character in the novel and his role may be treated as a trivial element as he only appears in minimal cites in the first chapters only to disappear like the rest of civilization without a trace. Nevertheless, after careful analysis, we realize that the Jimmy’s father is very significant to the novel’s foundation, as he acts as the reconciliatory factor for the whole story.


Jimmy’s dad is introduced in the novel in the second chapter (Atwood, 2003). He is an employee of the OrganInc Farms holding the position of a genographer, meaning a hereditary engineer. His wife is also an employee within the same firm and they only have a single child, Jimmy. Jimmy’s father is proud to be associated with his workplace majorly as a secure place from the unfortunate human populace dwelling outside the fortified company. The society at the given time is brought out as undergoing cataclysmic effects of industrialization that effectually has created radiation gaps within the earth’s protective atmosphere that has numerous harmful effects on life. The heat waves have caused polar melts increasing the levels of oceanic catchments and this has led to numerous floods within the globe. Inversely, other regions experience the enhancement of wastelands and famines due to reduced rainfall caused by weather changes. The life outside the genetic station consists of an impoverished lifestyle marked by high levels of crime, maladies, and urban spillage.

Contrastingly, the scientific settlement is a fortified city consisting of wealthy individuals that have consistent refuge as evidenced by the CorpSeCorps who operate the facility. This contrast accords a basis for the social theme concerning the gap distinctly marking the affluent from the poor in the society. The theme is tied down to biotechnology through the scientific community and it is therefore thought of as a possible economic and social consequence of genetics (Bloom 101). Just like the settlement fortification acts as the safety measure against the ailing society and its issues, the father’s position as a genographer acts as the safeguard for Jimmy’s life and existence up to the destruction period. It is quite evident that the safe compound was off limits for individuals other than the scientists. Had Jimmy and his family dwelt in the ailing world, then the highest probability would be that they would have died just like the rest. Therefore, Jimmy’s father plays a significant role in the preservation of Jimmy’s life through his career positioning. This is very pertinent to the story since without Jimmy, there would be no narrator and ultimately no story to tell.

The critical element of Jimmy’s father and role in human continuity, specifically to Jimmy, is clearly brought out by the contrast infused by Jimmy’s mother, who was also an acclaimed genetic scientist. With the same career as her husband, Jimmy’s mother would have clearly acquired her pass into the facility and offered protection for the son. However, this would have been on a temporal basis since as the novel progresses in chapter five, Jimmy’s mother deserts her family and escapes from the scientific premises (Atwood, 2003). Jimmy has to spend the rest of his life being grilled by the CorpSeCorps for his mother’s location who also acted to ensure that the corporation’s secrets are well protected from foreign individuals. In chapter eight, Jimmy’s mother resurfaces in a remonstration geared towards the scientific organization that she initially worked for due to the genetic production of coffee. Later in chapter ten, Jimmy discovers of his mother’s demise though an assassination (Atwood, 2003). Had Jimmy been under his mother’s care, his secured future would have ended with his mother’s defection from work and he would have been killed like the rest.

Other than his love for science, Jimmy’s father is characterized out as an intelligent man. He is involved with the initial genetic production that is very relevant to the novel as it acts as the breakthrough to the cloning framework used by Crake in his production. Jimmy’s father is involved in the creation of the pigoon, a creature that fuses pigs and baboons. Jimmy’s pet is a rakunk created from the fissure of a raccoon and a skunk. Jimmy is introduced to the world of genetics at an early age and this makes him comfortable with relating bit. No wonder he is able to relate effortlessly to the genetically modified creatures throughout the novel. As Jimmy’s mom flees from the settlement, she leaves with the rakunk and this hurts young Jimmy (Howells 108). The action is a depiction of the strife and differences that have existed between Jimmy’s parents. Jimmy’s father wants him to assume a scientific role by the fact that he nurtures him within the scientific facility while his mother prefers a separate field. By taking the rakunk, fleeing the facility and distancing herself from genetics, Jimmy’s mother silently communicates to the son her disapproval for the career. Jimmy’s fascination from the genetic creations he acquired from the father’s projects force him to stick within the premises and meet Crake.

As Jimmy’s father and the other team of scientists further their research, they also create wolvogs that are similar to dogs yet possessing a wolf’s veracity. This lays a foundation for Crake’s creation of the Crakers in genetic modification. Jimmy would never have met Crake was it not for the father and Crake would never have had his creations if it were not for the earlier tested creations. Recall that, Crake’s father is killed for the preservation of the corporation’s secrets. The author uses this fact and scenes to discuss the ethical implications of genetics. Genetic research is usually conducted in covert settings and secrets are protected under any means possible. The reader therefore has to decide whether life loss is worth in such careers. Jimmy detests his father for his carefree nature and busy schedule. He has never recalled his birthdays and often had to acquire his son’s forgiveness by getting him gifts a day later. The young boy has to grow up devoid of his father’s attention and direction (Thomas 74). The reason for his dad’s busy schedule is the genetic modifications under creation. This action has been a constant point of quarrels between the parents as the mother feels that she also lacks the necessary attention from her husband.

Jimmy’s father love for science supersedes his family and literary acts as his intrinsic impetus towards living. This proves to be a strongpoint in the unexpected divorce that splits the family. Jimmy’s father is overwhelmed by the situation and his decision acts as a critical point in the novel. Had his love for the wife taunted him to leave the scientific field as she did, Jimmy’s future would have been significantly altered, as he would have little probability of meeting Crake. The Crakers project would also be negatively impacted by the decision. His love for the job offers the consolation needed to see him though the heartbreak. Jimmy’s father meets Ramona working within the same facility and their budding relationship substitutes the missing one. The plot is held intact by this decision and saved from the possible change that would occur had the opposite decision transpired. The other notable characterization of Jimmy’s father is his ravenous appetite for money as discussed in chapter four (Atwood, 2003). The reader is evidenced of this nature as young Jimmy sets out spying ventures on his parents in a bid to uncover the reasons behind their estranged relationship. The revelation comes through one of the intense arguments where Jimmy’s mother indicts the husband of his love for genetics and money.

This greed is emphasized in Jimmy’s schooling; although the father desired for Jimmy to be a scientist, he simply lets him attend the Martha Graham Academy for an education humanity courses (Balachand 107). The school is also noted to be inexpensive. With the accrued resources acquired from the affluent career, Jimmy’s father would easily have transferred him to a superior school where he would have pursued a career in the science field. The commercialization theme is brought out in this section as Jimmy’s father opts to acquire financial power at the expense of the son’s dreams. His reluctance stemming from material greed aids in plot and thematic development. With Jimmy studying humanitarian courses, he is able to infuse contrast elements in the book by providing an argument against genetic manipulation. Crane is representative of individuals that accept and practice genetic engineering in life alteration while Jimmy lies in the opposing side. Having related with genetics in the science facility as well as acquiring information from the other side (humanitarian sciences), Jimmy realizes the danger posed by the dystopia that genetic engineering offers to the world. This is demonstrated by his desire to leave the scientific setting just like his mother with the accompaniment of Oryx. However, the timing is late and the world is annihilated because of this.




It is quite evident from the above discussion that Jimmy’s father may be termed as a minor character, yet one whom the publication cannot do without due to his level of significance in the book. Stemming from his career, everything else mentioned in the book seems to be connected to him. Therefore, his characterization is very essential in content and theme development.

















Works Cited:

Atwood, Margaret. Oryx and Crake: a novel. New York, NY: Random House Large Print, 2003. Print.

Balachand, K. Canadian literature: an overview. New Delhi: Sarup & Sons, 2007. Print.

Bloom, Harold. Margaret Atwood. Saint-Hubert: Infobase Publishing, 2009. Print.

Howells, Coral. The Cambridge companion to Margaret Atwood. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006. Print.

Thomas, Paul. Reading, learning, teaching Margaret Atwood. New York, NY: Peter Lang, 2007. Print.



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