Summary: Chapters 14 & 15

In the present time, Snowman packs as many supplies as he can carry and leaves Paradice. He makes his way out of the Compound and begins to cross No Man’s Land, on his way back to the Crakers. As the noon heat approaches he climbs a tree and shields himself in its shade. His foot throbs, and he considers what would happen if he died up in the tree. After a couple hours of rest, he climbs down and continues on his way.

Snowman arrives back near where the Crakers live. When approaches the Craker village, he hears an unusual noise that sounds like men and women chanting “Amen.” As he gets closer, Snowman observes a statue with a head and a body made of ragged cloths. The Crakers notice Snowman and welcome him back. They tell him they’ve been calling him, and Snowman realizes they were chanting his name, not “Amen.” He also realizes that the Crakers have created a statue of his likeness, an idol meant to carry their voices to him. Snowman recalls Crake’s warning: “As soon as they start doing art, we’re in trouble.”

The Crakers ask if Snowman’s journey into the sky was difficult. They believe that Crake lives in the sky, and they assumed the tornado had taken Snowman there. Snowman explains that the tornado brought Crake down to earth, and that they visited in Paradice, the place they all came from. The Crakers express their desire to go see Crake, but Snowman tells them Crake turned himself into a plant.

One of the women notice Snowman’s swollen foot, and a group converges around him to purr over his injury. The pain diminishes, but the swelling doesn’t fully abate. The Crakers bring fish for Snowman to eat, and he watches as children dismantle the idol, imagining that it’s his real body they’re tearing apart.

Abraham Lincoln informs Snowman that a group of three others like him came, one woman and two men. Others explain that the men looked angry and that one of them carried a “noisy stick”—a gun. The group retreated further along the beach when the Crakers tried to approach them. Snowman’s mind races, thinking about the other survivors and imagining the worst.

The next day Snowman wakes before dawn, climbs down from his tree, hobbles to the shore, and washes his wounded foot in the water. His wound is worse than ever, and he realizes the antibiotic cocktail he’d injected himself with in Paradice has worn off. He removes his sheet and, wearing nothing but his baseball cap, proceeds along the beach. He follows a trail of human footprints toward a column of smoke rising in the distance.

Through a veil of leaves, he looks at a group of three people sitting around a fire and roasting some animal. The group looks battered and thin, and one of the men has a spraygun. Snowman wonders whether to approach them as a friend or a foe. He whispers to himself, “What do you want me to do?” The voice of Oryx speaks in his mind: “Oh, Jimmy, you were so funny.” Next comes Crake’s voice: “Don’t let me down.” Snowman thinks to himself: “Time to go.”

Analysis: Chapters 14 & 15

At the end of a novel that has staged a symbolic battle between the sciences and the arts, the Crakers’ statue of Snowman suggests that art may have won out, if only just barely. On the one hand, it’s important to recognize the fact that the Crakers are flourishing in the post-apocalyptic world and that this in itself is a sign of Crake’s scientific achievement. Yet the Crakers are also developing into a tribe of quasi-religious people, which contravenes Crake’s desire for them to live without any metaphysics or faith. And as they begin to construct religious idols in their attempt to influence the world around them, the Crakers violate their creator’s original designs even further. In addition to the Crakers’ experiments with statue building, Snowman’s survival also indicates that the final victory might go to art. Crake may have succeeded in destroying human civilization and ensuring the survival of his own creations, but when he died, he left everything in Snowman’s hands, and it is his influence that will dictate the Crakers’ destiny from now on. And given the Crakers’ construction of a Snowman idol, it is likely that Snowman will become an important part of their pantheon, alongside Oryx and Crake.

The budding leadership sensibility of the Craker named Abraham Lincoln also threatens to undermine Crake’s designs. In this chapter Abraham Lincoln is the first to inform Snowman of the group of human survivors, and he appears to take more responsibility for the Crakers than anyone other than Snowman. Snowman noted Abraham Lincoln’s leadership qualities back in chapter 7. At that time, he also reflected on Crake’s warning that leaders inevitably turn into tyrants. Crake’s theory about leaders likely stemmed from his recognition of the tyranny of corporations. Crake knew well the power that corporations held. In fact, he wielded the power of RejoovenEsense against itself when he used that corporation’s vast resources to develop BlyssPluss and the Crakers. Crake’s dislike of corporate tyranny gave birth to his desire for the Crakers to live in a nonhierarchical society with no authority figures. However, Abraham Lincoln’s growing tendency to take charge suggests that the Crakers could eventually evolve into a more hierarchical society. And when considered alongside their nascent religiosity and art-making abilities, the Crakers may eventually develop into the same kind of complex society that Crake just destroyed.

The novel’s ambiguous ending emphasizes the uncertainty of the future. With his foot infection having advanced past recovery, Snowman will likely suffer a painful death in the near future. In the present moment, though, he remains unsure about how to approach the group of survivors. He doesn’t know whether the strangers are friends or enemies, and the novel leaves the reader unsure what Snowman has chosen to do next. When Snowman tells himself, “time to go,” it isn’t clear whether that means it’s time to approach the group or time to walk away from it. Evidence could support either reading. Snowman has been so lonely throughout the book, and his only moments of joy have come from entertaining the possibility of other survivors. From this perspective, it seems likely that he has chosen to approach the group. On the other hand, Snowman has learned to manage his loneliness by retreating into memory, and by now, he might prefer the companionship of the voices in his head. In the novel’s final moments, Snowman hears the voices of Oryx and Crake, suggesting that they are with him in spirit. Snowman’s imagined trio therefore symbolically mirrors the group of survivors around the fire. Which group will he choose?