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Why did Jimmy rename himself Snowman, and what is the significance of his new name?
Jimmy renamed himself Snowman because he felt the need to adopt a new persona for the new world in which he lived. Crake’s plague decimated the majority of the planet, including the only two people who still meant something to Jimmy. When Oryx and Crake died, a part of Jimmy died as well. Thus, just before Jimmy introduced himself to the Children of Crake, he adopted his new name. Now radically transformed, Snowman led the Crakers out of Paradice and into a world that was itself radically transformed. Thus, his new name prepared him symbolically and psychologically for his new life in a post-apocalyptic world.
But why did he change his name to Snowman, and what does that particular name mean? As the narrator explains in chapter 1, Snowman is short for Abominable Snowman, which refers to the ape-like Yeti creature said to live in the Himalayas. Symbolically, Snowman’s new name both links him to and differentiates him from Crake and Oryx. It links his to his friends, since both of them were known by adopted names. Crake’s original name was Glenn, but Snowman never found out Oryx’s original name. Yet Snowman’s name also differentiates him from Crake and Oryx, since his friends chose names of extinct species that really used to exist. By contrast, Snowman named himself after a mythical creature, at once “existing and not existing, flickering at the edges of blizzards.” On the one hand, Snowman’s new name represents an intentional offense against Crake, who made a rule that no one at Paradice could choose a name “for which a physical equivalent . . . could not be demonstrated.” On the other hand, Snowman’s new name reflects his current existential status, in which he feels like he’s flickering between past and present, possibly the last member of an endangered species on the brink of extinction.