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Reading Parts 13-15 The shortest section, and after the shocker in part 12, maybe a little anti-climactic, I read this bit like a maniac, probably in the middle of the night, hoping to find out why. Of course, I didn’t find out. The next morning, I bought The Year of the Flood. And yesterday, I finished Maddaddam, and so, the trilogy in it’s entirety. Full review of the whole shebang to come.
Part 13-15 Reaction
Poem: On revisiting this section, I noticed some nice symmetry in the table of contents. And when you think about it, the chapter titles kind of sound poetic, when read together. Don’t you think? Or is this a symptom of Atwood fangirling?
Alex: It’s odd that I haven’t talked about Alex the Parrot yet, because it was one of the most intriguing references in the book. Up till this point, I thought Alex was was a representation of Jimmy’s disillusionment, but duh, it’s a super-intelligent animal that looks around and decides “fuck this.” Obviously it’s Crake. Or maybe both? I think Alex also represents the importance of language and the combination of delight and horror we experience when confronted with the fact that living things other than humans might have real intelligence. I mean, the last line in the book is “Time to go.” That’s a paraphrase of Alex’s “I’m going away now.”
Alex the parrot comes to him in a dream…Snowman is suffered 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.
“No, wait,” Snowman calls, or wants to call. His mouth won’t move. “Don’t go yet! Tell me…”
Fridge Magnets: Having finished the series, it’s tempting to go back and look for clues. Because [spoiler?] there are still a lot of unanswered questions and we never get back in Jimmy’s head. Here’s Atwood dropping a hint:
He could have mentioned the change in Crake’s fridge magnets. You could tell a lot about a person from their fridge magnets, not that he’d thought about them at the time.
Okay, so Crake’s fridge magnets are mentioned twice, once while he’s at University:
- No Brain, No Pain
- I wander from Space to Space
- Wanna meet a Meat Machine?
- Take Your Time, Leave Mine Alone
- Little spoat/gider, who made thee?
- Life experiments like a rakunk at play
- I think, therefore I spam
- The proper study of Mankind is Everything.
Later, when Crake is working on the Paradise project, we see his fridge magnets again:
- Where God is, Man is not.
- There are two moons, one you can see, and one you can’t
- Du musz dein Leben andern (“You must change your life”)
- We understand more than we know
- I think, therefore.
- To stay human is to break a limitation
- Dream steals from its lair towards its prey
The scariest one for me is how the silly “I think, therefore I spam” has because the chilling “I think, therefore.” Just makes me think of nothingness, which is, I guess, what Crake wanted.
Blank Page: I find a lot of great writers end up writing about writing, and Atwood is no exception. Jimmy says of the Crakers:
These people were like blank pages, he could write whatever he wanted on them… Snowman marveled at his own facility: he was dancing gracefully around the truth, light-footed, light-fingered. But it was almost too easy; they accepted, without question, everything he said.
I wondered, is that a writer’s dream, or nightmare? To have a complacent public lapping up their every word? Probably a dream that becomes a nightmare, as Jimmy says, “much more of this…and he could see himself screaming with boredom.”
Don’t Let Me Down: Crake’s last words to Jimmy are “I’m counting on you.” Jimmy’s mother’s last words to Jimmy (maybe) are “Don’t let me down.” We close the first book in this series with another echo of “Don’t let me down.” I don’t have some grand theory about this, in fact, I still don’t know why Jimmy, why Crake chose him as the shepherd to his Craker flock. But I’m sure there’s something here, and that Crake did choose Jimmy, deliberately, when they were still kids. I sort of think that Crake had something to do with Jimmy’s mother’s disappearance, or his own parent’s deaths – that he engineered something so that they would have this parentlessness in common, so it would bond them… because as I and the other read-alongers have noted, the friendship was always a little strange.
I won’t want to do much of a wrap-up here, because I want to do a proper review of the series, but just in case it wasn’t clear – I loved this book. Atwood is often held up as a symbol of the stodgy establishment in CanLit, but my god, she’s earned her status as literary icon. I’m quite tempted to join some fellow book bloggers in their quest to Read All of Atwood (though never at the pace they’re on, a book per month. I would see this as a “before you die” type thing.)