Authenticity in Oryx and CrakeIn Oryx and Crake, nothing is authentic. Snowman doesn't have the initiative to live because he is confronted with reality and authenticity that wasn't there when he...

Authenticity in Oryx and Crake

In Oryx and Crake, nothing is authentic. Snowman doesn't have the initiative to live because he is confronted with reality and authenticity that wasn't there when he was known as Jimmy. I sincerely hope that our world doesn't come to this.

Asked on by psalm91

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accessteacher's profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

What do you mean by "authentic"? Certainly, we are presented with a world that contains many life-forms that have been genetically engineered into being, but they are still alive. I do agree, though, with your hope that this vision of the future does not come to pass in our world.

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StephanieRR | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted on

Oryx and Crake definitely brings up the question of authenticity, the question of what is or is not real, several times throughout the story. One of the early instances of it is when Crake and Jimmy are watching shows online, and some sites show people running around and being silly before getting lethal injections or the electric chair.

Crake said these incidents were bogus. He said the men were paid to do it, or their families were. The sponsors required them to put on a good show because otherwise people would get bored and turn it off... Two to on it was all rehearsed.

"Do you think they're really being executed?' [Jimmy] said. "A lot of them look like simulations."

"You never know,' said Crake."

"What is reality?"

Another example occurs when Jimmy visits Crake at his school and looks over the intensely genetically altered surroundings. He sees some large pink-winged butterflies.

"So, are the butterflies- are they recent?"...

"You mean, did they occur in nature or were they created by the hand of man? In other words, are they real or fake?"

"Mm," said Jimmy. He didn't want to get into the what is real thing with Crake.

"You know when people get their hair dyed or their teeth done? Or women get their tits enlarged?... After it happens, that's what they looks like in real time. The process is no longer important."

"No way fake tits feel like real tits," said Jimmy...

"If you could tell they were fake," said Crake, "it was a bad job. These butterflies fly, they mate, they lay eggs, caterpillars come out."

Jimmy is always looking for a way to make a distinction between authentic and fake, while rapid technological advancements are constantly challenging this ability to make any distinction at all. Not only that, but another question that follows is how important is authenticity? Does a man-made creature have to be denied the label of "real" or "authentic" when it can do everything that a naturally-born one can do? If you have to be born to be authentic, does that mean when man-made creatures reproduce their offspring are allowed to be considered "real"?

As for not wanting to live in a world like it, I agree, but I must say I saw some alarming similarities between the world of this book and the world I already live in. We have genetically modified food, and pesticides powerful enough to break down cells that are used so much that bugs have grown resistant to them. We have billion dollar industries that rely on making people feel bad about themselves so they can sell products to clear up a problem that would not have existed until the companies pointed them out. Lotions have "beauty beads" that are nothing more than tiny pieces of blue plastic you scrape across your face. I could go on, but I think you get the point. What disturbed me most about this book wasn't so much that it has a strange world where people are obsessed with genetic modifications, but that I could already recognize that world. Truly creepy.

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