Summary: Chapter 9

Snowman continues on his way to the RejoovenEsense Compound. He moves through a former residential sector that is now slowly being reclaimed by vines and other natural growth. As he proceeds, Snowman wonders about whether others have survived. He also thinks about what the survivors’ descendants will make of the ruins of civilization. Vultures circle overhead, and as noon approaches, Snowman worries about finding shelter.

Snowman arrives at the twelve-foot-high wall that surrounds RejoovenEsense and passes through the outer gate, which is no longer electrified. He makes note of a trail of objects that people left behind when they fled the Compound. After passing the gate and the abandoned security checkpoint, Snowman proceeds down the main street toward the residences. He goes into a medium-sized house, where he finds a small amount of bourbon in the liquor cabinet and a dead man in the bathroom. He finds the corpse of a woman in the bedroom, and her pixie haircut reminds him of a wig Oryx used to have. Snowman also walks through a child’s room, but the child’s body isn’t in there.

Snowman proceeds to the kitchen hoping to find food, but someone else has already raided the cupboards, leaving nothing more than stale cereal, three packets of cashews, and a tin of SoyOBoy sardines. He also finds a working flashlight, candle ends, and matches, and then stuffs everything into a garbage bag. Next Snowman goes down the hall to the home office, where he finds a computer as well as a pile of reference books. Snowman hypothesizes that the dead man in the bathroom must have worked as an advertiser or speechwriter for RejoovenEsense, and then imagines that he’s broken into his own childhood home.

Snowman leaves, hoping to find another house with a stash of canned goods. But as soon as he crawls out a window he’s confronted by a group of pigoons. He stands still until the pigoons wander off, then cautiously move away, thinking he could take refuge in the nearby checkpoint gatehouse. At the same time ominous clouds roll in, signaling a coming tornado.

Rain, wind, and thunder swell, and Snowman ducks into a gatehouse. Inside he finds two dead men in biosuits and a mess of scattered paper. The storm outside frightens Snowman, and his hands shake. He worries about the possibility that there are rats in the gatehouse, and that if water floods in, they will swarm around him. As he curls his legs up on the chair, a voice in his head counsels, “Having to face a crisis causes you to grow as a person.”

In the dark he lights a match, eats a packet of cashews, and drinks the partial bottle of bourbon. He hears a woman’s voice, possibly Oryx’s, assure him, “You’re doing really well.” A puff of air blows out Snowman’s candle, leaving him in the dark once again.

Analysis: Chapter 9

Chapter 9 provides the reader with more fragments of insight into the nature of the apocalyptic event that led to Snowman’s present. In particular, the details in this chapter indicate that the event happened suddenly and caused a sense of panic among the inhabitants of the RejoovenEsense Compound. The reader knows that people must have picked up and left without much planning, both because of the trail of belongings that leads from the residences and out of the Compound, and because of Snowman’s conviction that the houses in RejoovenEsense will likely still be full of supplies. Furthermore, the fact that people clearly fled the RejoovenEsense Compound suggests that Snowman may be entering ground zero—that is, the epicenter of the apocalyptic event. Although the full details of the event will not appear until later chapters, the current chapter uses foreshadowing to build a sense of suspense for the reader.

At the same time as chapter 9 offers fragmentary suggestions about the past, it also shows Snowman thinking about the bleakness of the future. The chapter opens with Snowman wondering about what future generations might think when they examine the ruins of the former civilization. Although Snowman doesn’t make any specific conclusions about what these fictional people will think, his thoughts nevertheless suggest a bleak future. For one thing, as he wanders, he observes plant life already overtaking residential areas. This image of nature reclaiming the ruins of civilization echoes similar images from earlier in the novel, as when Snowman made note of some overgrown rooftop gardens in chapter 5. In addition to this speculation about nature’s reclamation of civilization, Snowman also recalls a point that Crake once made about how the elimination of a single generation of humans would bring an end to civilization. Even if there were survivors, there would be no effective way for them to resurrect the vast amount of complex knowledge that would have been lost. Snowman may not explicitly think about how bad the future will be, but his observations and recollections throughout the chapter nonetheless suggest a bleak outlook.

As Snowman arrives at the RejoovenEsense Compound, alone and imagining the panic of all those who once lived there, the narrative revisits the theme of Snowman’s loneliness. A strong sense of loneliness flares up both in the house where he searches for supplies and in the gatehouse where he takes shelter from the tornado. While searching the house, Snowman has an uncanny feeling that he’s in his own childhood home and that the he is child who was missing from the kid’s bedroom he found upstairs. This uncanny sensation partly relates to the fact that the apocalyptic event made Snowman an orphan, and it surfaces just after he finds an office with a stack of reference books, which make him speculate that the dead man upstairs worked in advertising. As the next chapter will make clear, Jimmy went on to have a career in advertising after graduating from Martha Graham Academy. Thus, in addition to seeing himself as the absent child, Snowman also envisions the dead man he found upstairs as a representation of a former self (i.e., Jimmy) that perished in the apocalypse.