I Teach AP Language, AP Literature, and Other English Courses at San Diego High School, CA. I'm completing a PH.D. with GWU in English. my research and writing is on Literary Animal Animal Studies of the late twentieth- and early twenty-first-century. 

Bonfires and Antiheroes

The summer is really just starting for me as following our last week of school I had a week of AP by the Sea seminars at University of San Diego. Now, my mind is packed with a tone of great new ideas for this coming year. I'm rebuilding all of my classes and am already looking forward to September. In the meantime, some of us are doing our summer reading...

Hopefully, you finished the section titled "Mango" by this point. We met Snowman who was, quite literally, up a tree. If that wasn't odd enough, we are starting to realize that Snowman's world is not quite our world. In fact, the broken watch, computer mouse, and other detritus from our modern lives indicates we are reading a dystopian novel.

In this less-than-appealing future, Snowman apparently hangs out near a village as some kids come to visit him. Snowman apparently enjoys messing with these kids, as he tells them his beard is made of feathers and that his watch can speak to Crake—whoever that is! 

As you read through chapters one, two, and three over the next week you will find yourself on page 46 likely wondering why in the heck Margaret Atwood, author of the famed feminist classic The Handmaid's Tale, is featuring a main character that is so, well, so coarse. That's a great question!

Snowman, it turns out, was once Jimmy and grew up in an affluent community in what appears to be the near future. Jimmy's father was busy genetically modifying pigs, apparently "to grow an assortment of foolproof human-tissue organs in a transgenic knockout pig host,” while his mother was unengaged, despite Jimmy wanting more than anything "to make her laugh" (Oryx and Crake 22, 31). Jimmy pushed his mother in particular, always living on "that knife-edge," wondering if "had he gone too far" (33). Yet, these flashbacks keep getting interrupted by the discomfort of his present situation.

As he struggles to find some comfort, physical or mental, Jimmy-now-Snowman considers journaling, keeping a diary, but thinks there to be no point as "he’ll have no future reader, because the Crakers can’t read," and that "any reader he can possibly imagine is in the past" (47). Which we can only assume means everyone is dead or illiterate. Either way, things don't look good in Atwood's vision of the future.

Reflecting on what we've read up to this point, and speculating a bit on the rest of the novel, select one question below to answer by means of submitting a comment. 

  1. Recall that foreshadowing is when an author gives us a hint about what's going to happen later in the novel. What do you think Jimmy's parents (both of them) are foreshadowing?
  2. Given the difference between Jimmy's and Snowman's surroundings, what are some examples of foreshadowing in Jimmy's sections that you can connect to Snowman's?

Isn't it Ironic?

Up a Tree