Oryx & Crake vs. The Road

In our current world many people have strong morals, morals that they tell themselves they will never loose. However both The Road and Oryx & Crake bring us into a world where morals are not of the importance they used to be. Worlds where you have to truly only care about yourself and those close to you. Worlds in which you put yourself and your loved ones above everyone and all else. We realize that the actions you always believed you would take in dire situations may not be the actions you truly take once you are in that position. We not only realize we may not act the way we always insisted we would, but we also witness that relationships greatly affect those actions. Both books bring light to the fact that when you have others around you, whether a child, or people you are caring for, you have a different perception of the world than you may if you were alone. It seems that in both books the main characters, “the man” and “Snowman (Jimmy)” are very much affected in the actions they choose to take, by the people surrounding them, and both care greatly for the wellbeing of those close to them.

In a grey, desolate world you may find yourself in situations you never imagined. There are many values in our world that people stand by, and swear to stand by no matter what. However saying is sometimes much harder than doing. There are many situations you may find yourself in that you wish you hadn’t. Waking up each morning with just the hope of making it until nightfall, continuously walking with no true sense of direction. Each day hoping to not be someone else’s breakfast, lunch or dinner. This life is one that no one wishes to encounter however in The Road this is the very life that the man and the boy are forced to live every day. The man and the boy are living in a world where most days they will not even lay eyes on another human being, they are living a life where if you act immorally no one would know. Yet it seemed that even with this being true, they, especially the boy, kept a sense of morality that many others would not and were not.

There is one instance when the man and the boy come across an old man on the road who looks as if he will pass away any day. The man and boy had just left a barrack where they had found an abundance of food, so they just so happened have on hand a few days worth. The man wanted to just pass the old man, to not touch him, just keep with their own journey. However the boy was insistent on helping him. “Maybe we could him something to eat” , but the man was hesitant. Finally after much pleading by the boy, the man gave in and let him offer some food to the old man. With this the boy said, “take it” , however the old man initially did not seem to want it. This meeting between the old man and the man and the son just showed that with experience and maturity, you may not act how you might have acted in a past world. The boy wants to help the old, frail, man yet his father does not. This is not because the man doesn’t care about others; he just cares about his own safety and his sons’ safety about anyone else’s. The boy doesn’t always realize this, and some others may not either. Many individuals may say they would have had the heart to willingly give the old man food, but no one can truly say that. When you and your child live everyday with the fear of starving, you may find that you too, would be hesitant to share your food with a stranger.

The man also brings light to the way you may act when merely encountering another human being in this cold, dark, empty world. The man and the boy live in a world where they never knew who to trust. This is a tough circumstance to be in. For you never know if someone may want to help you, or kill you. You must act on instinct, go with your gut and only care and fend for yourself and those you love. There are a few occurrences when the father and son meet other people on the road, and the man is forced to make split second decisions. At one point the boy and the man actually have all of their belongings stolen from them, so they set off down the road in search of the thief. Soon enough they find the thief. Seeing the pistol that the man had, the thief stepped back, but still held onto his knife. “Get away from the cart,” the man said. “The cart was piled high, he’d taken everything.” The man cocked the pistol, “If you don’t put down the knife and get away from the cart, the man said, I’m going to blow your brains off.” The man proceeded to take everything from the thief, both his personal belongings and the ones he had stolen from them. The father had no trouble deciding what to do in this situation. This other man had stolen from them, with no remorse, so he acted in response, with no remorse. He did what he needed to do in order to protect the boy, and not only get their own belongings back, but also take from the thief other items that would help them. Although many may think this is immoral, the man did it in order to better the life of himself and his son. This stranger had no problem stealing from them, so the father took from him what he had taken from him and his son. It was something that he needed to do. Stealing from this man did put the stranger in a bad situation, but the man needed to this for himself and his son.

Another time as the man and the boy were walking, “…three men stepped from behind a truck and stood in the road before them…[the man] had the boy take the cart and walked backwards keeping the pistol on them” . The man didn’t even take the time of day to meet these people, see if they were good; he immediately moved on. But in this world, that was what one needed to do. The man knows what others on the road are capable of, and he does not want to fall for a trick that people may try and play on them. He knows that people can be dishonest, so he passed by in quick enough time, so that the people didn’t even have the opportunity to be deceitful. When you meet strangers in this world it is hard to know who to trust and who to not, what it comes down to is your gut. The man always did just this, went with his gut, he acted with no hesitations. Oryx & Crake also makes your mind wander, wondering what you may act like in the world Jimmy or Snowman were living in. How would we act if our world turned into a world completely controlled by human alterations? Might our world really come to this, and if it did, would we accept the things that people were doing? You may say that you would never watch live feeds on the internet of executions, or child pornography, or eat chicken that is modified to be as a far from a natural chicken as it could be, or create diseases just to cure them. But the biggest question is; would you take these actions if these became the social norm.

Jimmy (Snowman) tries very hard to stay normal in the world of change that he lived in. He was not as intellectual as his father or his best friend Crake, and this seemed to put him in a place that relates more to our current society than his own. Although Jimmy did not have the knowledge using numbers and math, he did hold onto something that it seemed like everyone else was losing. He held onto words. Jimmy wanted to hold on to vocabulary that everyone else seemed to be losing. While attending Martha Graham Jimmy would go down to the bottom of the library and read books that were out of date, “The more obsolete a book was, the more eagerly Jimmy would add it to his inner collection” . He would also make lists of words that “no longer had a meaningful application in today’s world, or toady’s world, as [he] sometimes deliberately misspelled on [his] term papers” . Jimmy would do this just to see if the professors were truly paying attention.

Words were of great importance to Jimmy, he would at time just say random words in his head, so as to not forget them and let them drown away in history. Jimmy seemed to be doing all that he could to stay “normal” in the world of chaos and superficiality. It seemed that vocabulary was his only way to hold on to sanity in this world he did not always agree with. It makes you wonder what you would do to hold on to the past, and a normal world, in an ever changing world.

Jimmy was also put in a tough decision that was relatable to some of the situations the man from The Road found himself in. When the outbreak of disease and death first began Jimmy had been waiting for Oryx and Crake to return. But when they came back, Jimmy knew something was not right. “‘Have you been in a fight?’ Jimmy said. ‘You have no idea,’ said Crake. ‘Now let me in.’” As he and Oryx entered Jimmy saw her draped over Crakes arm, head on his chest. “As Jimmy watched, frozen with disbelief, Crake let Oryx fall backwards, over his left arm. He looked at Jimmy, a direct look, unsmiling. ‘I’m counting on you,’ he said. Then he slit her throat. Jimmy shot him” . When Jimmy saw the love of his life murdered in front of him, his gut reaction was to return the favor, killing Crake. Both Jimmy and the man (in The Road) were faced with circumstances where they had the power to kill someone, and both chose to it. The man killed a bad guy who was trying to take his son, but in Jimmy’s case, he actually killed his best friend. Yet it seemed like it was all in Crakes plan. By saying “I’m counting on you” it was as if Crake wanted to die and have Jimmy take control. The circumstance that Jimmy found himself in was nothing he could ever have expected. Oryx was the love of Jimmy’s life and ever since he was a young boy he had been searching for her. Finally he found her but she was already taken by Crake, he was never able to fully have her how he had always wanted. By killing Crake, it proved Jimmy’s love for Oryx was truly above all else. He killed someone he loved, because of the murder of his one true love. His actions make you wonder if there would be anything to cause you to kill your best friend. If they take the life of your true love, would you act like Jimmy, taking their life in return? One may not truly know the answer until they are faced with the opportunity, or want, to murder their best friend.

When Jimmy entered Crakes new world of Paradice, consisting of, “floor models” and BlyssPluss pills, he never imagined what was to come. When he first was thrown into this new world, he didn’t know how to act. He later looked back and realized there had been hints to what Crake was planning, but he had not put it together when they were in-front of him. There was one time when Jimmy and Crake were having lunch and Crake said something that looking back, Jimmy realized was sign of what was to come. “If anything happens to me, I’m depending on you to look after the Paradice Project. Any time I’m away from here I want you to take charge. I’ve made it standing order” . Of course Jimmy promised to his best friend that he would take order of his project, however he never imagined what that would entail. He never thought that it would mean being responsible for the Crakers in a desolate and empty world, surrounded by beings who had no knowledge of the past. It is hard to think about what you would do in Jimmy’s situation. In an abandoned world would you keep your promise, even though those you promised would never know if you did or not? Or would you break your promise, so you would only have to worry about yourself? Jimmy knew that the two most important people in his life were gone, yet still he kept his promise to them, even though they would never know if he didn’t. He was an honorable friend, he did not seem to take notice that he could in truth act however he wanted, he still honored his friend and lover, keeping their last wish.

Jimmy was a full time babysitter for these Crakers. He always had to be contentious of what he said in front of them, what words he used to explain and describe things. He had to make everything understandable to them, he had to make a history that they could fathom. So when Jimmy left on a journey to find Paradice he had to be very careful about what he told the Crakers. He told the Crakers that he was going to see Crake, “there are some things I need to ask him” he said. When they repetitively tried to join him, he kept saying no. “…you can’t see Crake, it isn’t allowed” . He had to come up with a reason that the Crakers would understand, as always he put them above himself, he was a parent to all of them, and in return to this, the Crakers honored him with the utmost respect. He was their everything and would do anything for him. Yet after a long time of caring for the Crakers and not for himself, Jimmy did something that many others would have done right away. He put his needs above the needs of the Crakers.

When Jimmy returned from this journey he learned from the Crakers that people like him had passed by. “Some others like you came here,” one of the Crakers told Jimmy. Asking the Crakers questions, Jimmy learned it was three people like him, one female and two males. “I’ll go and talk with them. I’ll do it tomorrow. Now I will go to sleep,” Jimmy told the Crakers. Jimmy had had no contact with other real human beings since the great epidemic caused by Crake, and he knew it was time to leave the Crakers. They were beginning to fall into the cycle of human kind. They began acting in ways that Crake had wished they never would, but it was inevitable. Jimmy saw that no matter what he did, the Crakers would take their own natural path of evolution. The Crakers began using their imagination, making art, chanting. There was nothing Jimmy could do to stop the new steps that the Crakers were taking. He knew he was no longer needed or useful in the way that Crake had wanted him. While falling asleep that night, Jimmy was thinking about what he would say to the Crakers concerning him leaving. However everything he thought of saying he knew the Crakers would ask what he meant. “What is rape?” “What is build?” “What is grow” Jimmy imagined them saying. So he decided he would just say “Crake is watching over you, Oryx loves you”. The next day, Jimmy left the Crakers, he went in the direction they had said the people like him went, with the hopes of finding them. He went with his gut; he went with his intuition and his own needs. He did something for himself after so many years of not.

Both The Road and Oryx and Crake make you think about the actions you may take when in circumstances you never wish to be in. Would you help those in need if it meant putting your own survival at risk? Would you kill for those you love? Would you trust people in a desolate abandoned world? Would anything cause you to kill your best friend? Would you break a promise to someone who died, in order to care for yourself above all else? No one truly knows the answer to those questions until you are personally and literally in those situations. You may live with morals all your life to then realize that there may come a time when morals are of no importance. Both books open your eyes, make you think about what you may do in order to survive, that sometimes things of importance in a populated world are of no importance in an empty world.


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