Jimmy is a Justifiable Jerk: The Question of Love in Atwood’s Oryx and Crake

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“ ‘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 a...

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...’s quote on everything having a price rings true. Jimmy’s desire, his intellectual obsession for power, pays the price as he ends up it what appears to be the only survivor of a world apocalypse while taking care of Crake’s non-human humans. Why did not Jimmy just love Oryx? Although, it is not really in his DNA to love. Jimmy is a product of maternal love or rather the lack of.

Works Cited
Atwood, Margaret. “The Handmaid’s Tale and Oryx and Crake ‘In Context’.” Modern Language Association 119.3 (2004): 513-517. MLA International Bibliography. Web. 28 March 2014.
Atwood, Margaret. Oryx and Crake. Toronto: Vintage Canada, 2009. Print.
Banerjee, Suparna. “Towards Feminist Mother: Oppositional Maternal Practice in Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake.” Journal of International Women’s Studies 14.1 (2013): 236-247. MLA International Bibliography. Web. 28 March 2014.

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