Oryx and Crake

Margaret Atwood
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Summary

Chapter 5

Summary Chapter 5

Summary: Chapter 5

In the present time, Snowman sits on the edge of the tree line at dusk, feeling dejected and hungry. He observes light passing through unbroken window panes submerged under water and looks at overgrown rooftop gardens on abandoned buildings. He also notices a foraging rabbit with huge teeth and a semi-translucent glow, evidently the product of interbreeding between wild rabbits and the “luminous green rabbits” that had been developed in labs.

Snowman wants to hunt the rabbit for food, but then recalls that, according to the Children of Crake’s beliefs, rabbits “belong to the Children of Oryx and are sacred to Oryx herself.” He decides against killing the rabbit lest he upset the vegetarian Crakers. He then recalls the origin story that he’d made up for the Children of Crake and reminds himself of the importance of internal consistency in storytelling.

Stars begin to appear, and to himself Snowman recites the nursery rhyme that starts, “Star light, star bright.” He recites more of the nursery rhyme aloud, but in response to the idea of making a wish, he thinks to himself, “Fat chance.”

The Children of Crake appear and ask Snowman questions. A female voice comes into his head, instructing that “when dealing with indigenous peoples . . . you must attempt to respect their traditions and confine your explanations to simple concepts that can be understood within the contexts of their belief systems.” Snowman dismisses the condescending voice and tells the Crakers they should stop asking questions or else they would “be toast.” Snowman recognizes that he’s made a slip using such an arcane metaphor. He imagines all the other difficult-to-answer questions that would arise if he actually tried to explain what toast is.

As the sky darkens Snowman thinks about the names of oil paints, and he comments that all words and phrases are fantasies, though they are also signs of human ingenuity. He reflects that Crake did not have a high opinion of human ingenuity.

Snowman sees a group of Crakers approaching. The women present Snowman with a grilled fish, which is a ritual they perform weekly based on a story Snowman made up about Oryx. Though the Children of Crake are all vegetarians, they accept his eating habits and believe his story about Oryx.