Are the Crakers Human? The Nature of Humanity in Oryx and Crake


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Extra credit presentation given by one of my students, Katey Dager, at the beginning of lecture 18 for students in English 165EW, "Life After the End of the World," winter 2013 at UC Santa Barbara.

Posted here with Katey's permission.

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Are the Crakers Human? The Nature of Humanity in Oryx and Crake

  1. 1. Are the Crakers Human?The nature of Humanity in Oryx and Crake A presentation by Katey Dager
  2. 2. Snowman and the Children of Crake● “Existing and not existing, flickering at the edges of blizzards, apelike man or manlike ape.” (Atwood 7-8)
  3. 3. Their Transgenic Predecessors Copyrighted picture removed before posting to the web; it can be found at: Courtney, Jason. Jimmy went in to see the pigoons. 2006. Online.
  4. 4. Their Transgenic Predecessors● “[The bobkittens] were supposed to eliminate feral cats, thus improving the almost non- existent songbird population. . . except that the bobkittens soon got out of control in their turn.” (Atwood 164)
  5. 5. Their Transgenic Predecessors● “If you could tell they were fake. . .it was a bad job. These butterflies fly, they mate, they lay eggs, caterpillars come out.” (Atwood 200)
  6. 6. The Beginnings of the Crakers● “What were working on is immortality.” (Atwood 292)● “These are the floor models.” (Atwood 302)
  7. 7. Aristotelian Definition of Human Nature● Humans are pairing● Humans are political● Humans are creative
  8. 8. Pairing● “The friendship between husband and wife appears to be a natural instinct; since man is by nature a pairing creature even more than he is a political creature.” (Nicomachean Ethics)● “In your plan wed just be a bunch of hormone robots. . .Thered be no free choice.” (Atwood 166)● “Therell be the standard quintuplet, four men and the woman in heat.” (Atwood 164)
  9. 9. Political● “Hence every city-state exists by nature, inasmuch as the first partnerships so exist; for the city-state is the end of the other partnerships, and nature is an end” (Politics)● “Hierarchy could not exist among them, because they lacked the neural complexes that would have created it.” (Atwood 305)● “Hes [Abraham Lincoln] getting to be a bit of a leader, that one. Watch out for leaders, Crake used to say. First the leaders and the led, then the tyrants and the slaves, then the massacres.” (Atwood 155)
  10. 10. Creative, Expressive● “We have, then, a natural instinct for representation and for tune and rhythm” (Poetics)● “Well, what about art?” said Jimmy. . . “What about it?” said Crake, smiling his calm smile.” (Atwood 166)● “Symbolic thinking of any kind would signal downfall, in Crakes view. Next theyd be inventing idols, and funerals, and grave goods, and the afterlife, and sin, and Linear B, and then slavery and war.” (Atwood 361)
  11. 11. ● “He couldnt get rid of the singing either.” (Atwood 352)● “Today they asked who made them.” (Atwood 311)● “We made a picture of you, to help us send out our voices to you.” (Atwood 361)
  12. 12. Summary● The Children of Crake are transgenic humans, but they are indeed human● Crake successfully removes the pairing tendencies, because that is primarily biology● Crake thinks he has successfully removed political tendencies, but they reemerge● Crake cannot remove artistic tendencies, specifically singing and representation● These things are inherent to humanity and imply that the Crakers are human