Last Updated on October 4, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 497
Margaret Atwood's novel Oryx and Crake is the story of a man who is left alone in a post-apocalyptic wasteland with the creatures he helped create. After the destruction of society (due to corruption and greed from the government and businesses), Snowman, formerly known as Jimmy, is left in the wilderness with the "Crakers": semi-human creatures bred by his late friend, Crake. Let's analyze some quotes from the text.
Out of habit he looks at his watch—stainless steel case, burnished aluminum band, still shiny although it no longer works. He wears it now as his only talisman. A blank face is what it shows him: zero hour. It causes a jolt of terror to run through him, this absence of official time. Nobody nowhere knows what time it is.
This quote shows Snowman struggling with the destruction of society and the resulting concept of timelessness. As the world has been driven to anarchy and chaos, time itself is meaningless and relative. He maintains his watch as a reminder of his past life, but it has no meaning anymore and no usefulness. Each time he looks at it, all it tells him is "Zero Hour," because there is no formal definition of time. In a post-apocalyptic world, this is metaphorically showing that human constructions, even those as complex and deeply ingrained as time itself, will crumble.
He shouldn't have had Righteous Mom weeping in the kitchen because her ovaries had burst; he shouldn't have done that sex scene with the Monday Special Fish Finger, 20% Real Fish—Evil Dad falling upon it and tearing it apart with lust because Righteous Mom was sulking inside an empty Twinkies package and wouldn't come out.
Jimmy reveals a lot about himself in this quote. He feels a deep-seated hatred for his father, to whom he refers as evil, and his frustration with his mother is also evident. While he considers her "righteous," he is frustrated with her absence and her lack of action in regard to their evil father. This quote also shows his perversion and the depths to which he, and the rest of society by this point, has sunk to. Pornography and wanton sex are rampant, and he puts on grotesque puppet shows for his friends at lunch, frequently depicting sexual acts.
What next? Advance with a strip of bedsheet tied to a stick, waving a white flag? I come in peace. But doesn't have his bedsheet with him.
At the close of the novel, Snowman finds a band of humans—not Crakers, but real humans, who wear shoes and are roasting meat. This fills him with hope, but it is also clear that he is filled with fear. His isolation from any form of humanity has caused him to be cautious when dealing with them. He compulsively looks at his watch, and it once again indicates "Zero Hour," implying that it's time to do something. The novel ends without clearly indicating whether he flees or approaches the group.