Jimmy Is A Justifiable Jerk: The Question Of Love In Atwood’s Oryx And Crake

2459 words - 10 pages

“ ‘You can’t buy it, but it has a price,’ said Oryx. ‘Everything has a price’ ” (Atwood 138). If everything has a price then everything is a product and if something is a product, it is made to be used in some shape or form. What of love though? Does love follow under the category of something? In Margaret Atwood’s novel Oryx and Crake, Jimmy, the protagonist, hints at the idea that love cannot be bought in his discussion with Oryx. How ironic this idea is for Jimmy to consider when the reader considers Jimmy’s use of love. Jimmy is in a relationship with Oryx but love is not what is motivating him to be there: a desire for power, to be able to use and influence someone is his motivation. Jimmy uses Oryx to satisfy these underlying needs which originate from his childhood. Jimmy’s interaction with his depressed mother funnelled his desire to use power to create a reaction in his mother. He further progresses this need as he studies and experiences the power of language at Martha Graham, the art university he attends after high school. This fundamental need for power finally extends out into Jimmy’s eventual relationship with Oryx as he treats her as another object to exert his power over. Evidentially Crake, Jimmy’s best friend and employer, understands Jimmy’s desire and uses his relationship with Oryx to complete his own world rejuvenation plan. Through Jimmy’s interaction with his depressed mother and the reactions he experiences in using language, Jimmy develops an intense need for power which is why he does not genuinely love Oryx which consequently, results in Crake’s cunning ability to use Jimmy.
Jimmy does not love Oryx because simply put, their story is not based upon love. Margaret Atwood herself alludes to this fact as she describes her own novel: “It’s an adventure romance – that is, the hero goes on a quest – coupled with … the literary form that deals in intellectual obsession” (In Context, 517). There is no suggestion here by Atwood saying that Oryx and Crake is a love story or that the protagonist, Jimmy, is involved in the kind of romance usually associated with love. Instead, the protagonist’s main adventure focuses on his intellectual obsession; that is, Jimmy’s story is about how he is innately obsessed with having power over those he can. He can have this power over others by using his ability to exploit the faults in who he is interacting with to influencing or causing them to have a reaction which can be referred to his intellectual reasoning. Crake is the exception here because Jimmy knows Crake outranks him in intellect (Atwood, Oryx and Crake, 76). Nonetheless, Jimmy has an innate desire for intellectual superiority because it gets him what he wants in life. In some cases, he is aware of his power over others and directly implies it and in other cases, Jimmy indirectly applies his power. Therefore, when it comes to Oryx, Jimmy’s whole relationship is built upon his innate and unintended desire to have power over her....

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