In the book Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood, why did Crake choose Jimmy to take care of the Crakers?

Please answer using evidence from textual quotes to support your claims.

  • 1
    Hi shizakhan, welcome to the site! This looks like a homework question, which is fine for this site as long as it's a question that fits within site guidelines. So I've removed the purely opinion-based part ("was it a good choice") and the length requirement for answers. Answering why Crake chose Jimmy, with quotes from the text, is something we can help you with.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Mar 19 '20 at 18:55

Warning: spoilers follow!

The first person to ask Jimmy to take care of the Crakers was Oryx, on the last night of her life:

“Jimmy, I want you to promise me something.”
“Sure, what?”
“If Crake isn’t here, if he goes away somewhere, and if I’m not here either, I want you to take care of the Crakers.”
“Not here? Why wouldn’t you be here?” Anxiety again, suspicion: were they planning to go off together, leaving him behind? Was that it? Had he only been some sort of toy-boy for Oryx, a court jester for Crake? “You’re going on a honeymoon, or what?”
“Don’t be silly, Jimmy. They are like children, they need someone. You have to be kind with them.”
“You’re looking at the wrong man,” said Jimmy. “If I had to spend more than five minutes with them they’d drive me nuts.”
“I know you could do it. I’m serious, Jimmy. Say you’ll do it, don’t let me down. Promise?” She was stroking him, running a row of kisses up his arm.
“Okay then. Cross my heart and hope to die. Happy now?” It didn’t cost him anything, it was all purely theoretical.

Crake's last instruction to Jimmy is rather oblique, but it seems to convey the same idea:

He looked at Jimmy, a direct look, unsmiling.
“I’m counting on you,” he said. Then he slit her throat.
Jimmy shot him.

It's just possible that Jimmy ended up being the one to take care of the Crakers by coincidence - he was the one who happened to be nearest to them, sealed into the inner compound, while everyone outside either didn't care, couldn't get in, or was turned away by Jimmy's lies. But it seems more likely that nothing in Crake's meticulous plan was coincidence. Jimmy didn't "just happen" to be Crake's best friend and Oryx's lover. He was there, with them, at the centre of events - he would be the natural choice to be left behind. He was probably the only person who cared enough about Crake and Oryx to continue their work, and almost certainly the only person besides Oryx that Crake cared about on any level.

It's the thought of them that keeps Jimmy from ending his life:

Once in a while he considered killing himself – it seemed mandatory – but somehow he didn’t have the required energy. Anyway, killing yourself was something you did for an audience, as on nitee-nite.com. Under the circumstances, the here and now, it was a gesture that lacked elegance. He could imagine Crake’s amused contempt, and the disappointment of Oryx: But Jimmy! Why do you give up? You have a job to do! You promised, remember?

And, despite his thoughts during his last conversation with Oryx, he doesn't abandon the Crakers:

I could leave them behind, he thought. Just leave them. Let them fend for themselves. They aren’t my business.
But he couldn’t do that, because although the Crakers weren’t his business, they were now his responsibility. Who else did they have?
Who else did he have, for that matter?

Then why Jimmy? Why did he become Crake's friend (assuming that becoming Oryx's lover wasn't part of the grand masterplan, although it may well have been)? That might have been chance - since he was Crake's friend since boyhood, he ended up being there with him until the very end, the only person with sufficient loyalty to Crake. But again, assuming Crake to be completely without emotion and perfect in all his planning, can we find a reason why Jimmy was the best suited person to take care of the Crakers after the apocalypse?

Well, look at his skills. Jimmy was no scientist, like Crake. But science wasn't what was needed at that time. The Crakers had been created and educated so that they could take care of themselves, and new scientific discoveries might in time come from their new civilisation. Jimmy's role, as well as the basics of getting them out of the complex to a place of safety, was in telling them stories.

Some of the buildings along the way were still smouldering. There were many questions, and much explaining to do. What is that smoke? It is a thing of Crake’s. Why is that child lying down, with no eyes? It was the will of Crake. And so forth.
Snowman made it up as he went along. He knew what an improbable shepherd he was.To reassure them, he tried his best to appear dignified and reliable, wise and kindly. A lifetime of deviousness came to his aid.

In fact, Jimmy/Snowman is perhaps a less improbable shepherd than he gives himself credit for. His talent is with words, with stories, with making things up and convincing people. This is what the Crakers need in the post-apocalyptic world. They've been given enough physical attributes and training to take care of themselves if given a territory; they just need someone to take them there and give them a story to start them off. The story of Oryx and Crake fills the last remaining element that's needed to create their civilisation.

TL;DR: on one level, Jimmy was simply in the right place at the right time, being in the inner complex with the Crakers when the apocalypse hit; on another level, he was the only logical choice at that point, being the only person close enough to Crake and Oryx that he would stay in place and do what needed doing; and on a deeper level, he has the right skills for the job, being a storyteller to create a mythology for the Crakers, and being tough and devious enough to survive the post-apocalyptic world.

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