Themes

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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 339

MaddAddam is the last part of a dystopian trilogy by Canadian writer, Margaret Atwood. The first two novels in the trilogy are Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood. All these novels are set (mostly) in a time where most life on earth has been wiped out by a lethal pandemic. This setting dictates most of the themes of the MaddAddam trilogy. Here, I will discuss two of the most important themes.

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Gender and Feminism: it's almost impossible to read these books without paying attention to gender roles and the ways in which the author is commenting on them. The novel brings out clearly how women's bodies are commodified and the characters of the Painballers is almost an allegory for male violence and aggression in the present day. She also explores how women's bodies and actions affect their very constructions of personhood in a world that imbues them with very little power and control. Even Oryx is primarily depicted as a woman that Crake and Snowman fight over, with Crake and Snowman being depicted as the more powerful characters. In MaddAddam, the centrality of Toby and Toby's reflections show us how a woman can have power even in a world that seems determine to deny her any. The dynamics between various couples—Oryx and Crake; Toby and Zeb (with Swift Fox attempting to vie for Zeb's attention); Ren and Jimmy—also shed light on this theme.

The nature of humanity and the post-human: These are questions that are especially pertinent today; Atwood's examination of them several years ago shows her prescience. This theme is best understood through the Children of Crake or the Crakers, humanoids created by Crake. They represent a hopeful idea of what post-humanity could look like. However, Crake deals with the threat to humanity by replacing humanity altogether. The novel also calls into question the very boundary between human and non-human: consider the pigeons whoare created to grow human organs for transplant; it is this that allows them to become more 'human' than 'animal'.

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