Alex-the-Parrot

In what sometimes feels like a nod to Edgar Allan Poe, Alex the Parrot seems to haunt Jimmy-the-Snowman throughout the novel. His final appearance is spectral, as opposed to the televisual appearances he made in previous chapters. After Jimmy-the-Snowman wanders the halls of Paradice, following the big reveal of Oryx and Crake's demise, the apparently only remaining human takes a little nap, and dreams a little dream:

“Alex the parrot comes to him in a dream. It flies in through the window, lands close to him on the pillow, bright green this time with purple wings and a yellow beak, glowing like a beacon, and Snowman is suffused with happiness and love. It cocks its head, looks at him first with one eye, then the other. “The blue triangle,” it says. Then it begins to flush, to turn red, beginning with the eye. This change is frightening, as if it’s a parrot-shaped light bulb filling up with blood. “I’m going away now,” it says.” ~Margaret Atwood. “Oryx and Crake.”

Throughout the novel Alex seems to mock human language, particularly with regards to two issues. The first is that Alex is clearly doing much more than "parroting" sounds, evidenced by his frustration when his trainers fail to give him the requested "cork-nut" he asks for. (For more on this, see Atwood's own notes on the real-life Alex and follow up on the source material.) The second way Alex seems to mock human language is that his appearance is often near scenes of Jimmy-the-Snowman's own "parroting" of language. He is frequently going through his beloved "word lists" and one can't but help consider that Atwood might be putting some pressure on our assumptions about the supposed superiority of human language and intelligence.