Oryx and crake, year of the flood, gender, gender spectrum, margaret atwood
This thesis explores Atwood’s depiction of gender in Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood. In an interview from 1972, Margaret Atwood spoke on survival: “People see two alternatives. You can be part of the machine or you can be something that gets run over by it. And I think there has to be a third thing.” I assert that Atwood depicts this “third thing” through her characters who navigate between the binaries of “masculine” and “feminine” in a third realm of gender. As the female characters—regardless of their passive or aggressive behavior—engage in a quest for agency, they must overcome bodily limitations. Oryx—the quintessential problematic, oppressed feminine figure—and Ren are both associated with sex as they are passed from man to man throughout their lives. Furthermore, as other females (namely, Amanda and Toby) adopt masculine traits associated with power in an attempt at self-preservation both before and after the waterless flood, men in the novels strive to subvert this power through rape to remind these women of their confinement within their physical bodies and to reinstitute the binary gender system. The men also span the gender continuum, with Crake representing the masculine “machine” and Jimmy gravitating toward the feminine victim. Crake, who seems to live life uninhibited from his body, appears to escape the bodily confinements that the women experience, while Jimmy’s relationship to his body is more complex. As Jimmy competes to “out-masculinize” Crake, and Amanda and Toby struggle to avoid both identification with and demolition by the machine, readers of the novels are invited to think beyond the “machinery” of gender norms to consider gender as a continuum instead of a dualistic factor.
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Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Arts and Humanities
English; Literary, Cultural and Textual Studies
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Arts and Humanities -- Dissertations, Academic, Dissertations, Academic -- Arts and Humanities
Anderson, Lindsay McCoy, "The Machine, The Victim, And The Third Thing: Navigating The Gender Spectrum In Margaret Atwood's Oryx And Crake And The Year Of The Flood" (2012). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 2362.