Party of Two in the Tree

“He shouldn’t dangle impossibilities in front of himself, as if he were some caged, wired-up lab animal, trapped into performing futile and perverse experiments on his own brain” (45).

Oryx and Crake reminds me of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. While trying to determine whether Snowman is more akin to Caliban or Prospero, I found this quote and decided that he may embody characteristics of both. Snowman resembles the despotic island magician Prospero, because he rules over Crake’s children to some extent. They bring him fish and rely on him for stories of Crake. Snowman resembles Prospero’s slave Caliban as well. Caliban feels the island rightfully belongs to him, yet he lives as Prospero’s prisoner. We don’t yet know Snowman’s full story, but we get the sense that Snowman was the “word man” to Crake’s role as “number’s guy.” It seems Snowman was instrumental in the creation of life as they know it, and has been cast off to live on the water (the same setting as The Tempest). As he struggles through his daily existence, Snowman frequently remarks on how the effects of his distant executive decisions impact his daily life –an unanticipated situation for him. Snowman’s encompassing both Prospero and Caliban reflects the dualities inherent in his character. Snowman is both prisoned and imprisoned, Snowman and Jimmy, victim and perpetrator. That duality is seen in the above quote. Snowman both “[dangles] impossibilities in front of himself” and is a “caged…animal.” He is the oppressor of himself. More of Snowman’s duality is seen in his internal monologues that often sound more like dialogues. Certain lines are italicized, which connotes that Snowman is in conversation with himself and embodies two characters. Moments of Snowman’s duality feel like the psychological side effects of his isolation, after growing half crazy from loneliness and lack of kinship.

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