While the definition of ethics may be different in the eyes of different people, most individuals have a certain limit to their behaviour. Ethics s doing the right thing in life to make the world a better place. But an exception to this statement is none other than one of the main characters in this novel, Crake. In Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake, Crake (real name Glen) is a character who has a bright, young mind in his earlier years, but seems to have an increasing obsession with his idea of perfectionism as the years go by. Over many years, Crake realizes that there are many qualities about the human race that he finds to be negative.
Crake feels he has to do something about this, which is why he decides to work on a project that he feels would benefit humanity, but in reality causes damage. While Crake has shown examples of not having ethics on a smaller scale throughout his life, his high budget for research at RejoovenEsense along with his lack of ethics and morality is what ultimately leads to his “wild” behaviour, which in turn is the cause of human civilization’s downfall. He is not trying to benefit humanity, rather he is trying to recreate humanity. During Crake’s youth, he and Jimmy would enjoy some “weird” activities such as watching executions, surgeries, child pornography, and other explicit content together. Although these activities are a little “weird” and could be in violation of ethics depending on what a person’s definition of ethics is, it is nothing compared to the atrocities that Crake later commits. Upon graduating from Watson-Crick, Crake was hired at RejoovenEsense and promptly began to work his way up the corporate ladder in order to achieve a high position so he could carry out his sadistic plan.
Once Crake reaches the epitome of high corporate status, he is granted the freedom to work on any project he wants. This is where the example of how a man without ethics, combined with the resources to carry out any operation he wants, can be compared to a “wild beast loosed upon this world.” (Camus). The author states “What are you really up to here?” said Jimmy. Crake grinned. “What is really?” “Bogus,” said Jimmy. But he was thrown off balance.” (Atwood 302).
This quote is a great demonstration of the disparity between Jimmy and Crake. Upon Jimmy’s questioning of what Crake is really up to after being informed about the BlyssPluss pill, Crake asks Jimmy what “really” is because he knows that their definitions of being “ethical” are polar opposites. While Jimmy is more sensible, Crake’s plan to create an alternate species, the Crakers, and create a virus so potent that it is capable of exterminating the entire human species with a few exceptions is something that seems normal and necessary for him. While humanity is in chaos after Oryx unknowingly helps to spread the JUVE virus via the BlyssPluss pill, Crake casually passes off the situation as completely normal because from his perspective, everything is going according to plan. “”Let’s just suppose,” Said Crake wearily, “that I anticipated this event and took precautions. Anyway, you’re immune to this.”” (Atwood 328). Jimmy is able to see the obvious problem with the situation but from Crake’s point of view, telling Jimmy that he is immune to the virus is something that Crake feels would bring peace of mind to Jimmy.
This demonstrates that while Jimmy is worried about humanity, Crake shows a behaviour similar to a “wild beast” because he assumes that just like himself, Jimmy would only be worried about his own safety and well-being. For Crake, as long as his reckless plan is going according to plan, he feels like he is accomplished exactly what he intended and the thought of murdering a substantial amount of innocent people brings him no feeling of guilt whatsoever. Crake’s lack of ethics combined with the opportunity presented to him, is the cause of grief and death with a few exceptions, in the life of every human, excluding himself. For as long as we have known Crake, he has been a character with a carefree attitude towards the subject of ethics, which is displayed through his reckless behaviour throughout the novel. During their school years, when Crake and Jimmy used to watch explicit content together, Crake would use his Uncle Pete’s password using a hacking method so that he and Jimmy could gain access to the websites with an even higher explicit content, all the while Uncle Pete would have to accept the charges without the knowledge of who is actually behind the charges. “Crake used his Uncle Pete’s private code, via a complicated method he called a lily-pad labyrinth…
That way when Uncle Pete got the bill he couldn’t find out who’d run it up.” (Atwood 86). On one end of the spectrum is Jimmy who is more compassionate. An example of this is when he feels sorry for the Pigoons at OrganInc because he felt that they spent too much time doing nothing.
But on the opposite end of the spectrum is Crake who even in his adolescent years, shows a lack of ethics towards his own blood relative. “Some people base ethical decisions on principles of justice, equality, impartiality, and rights. This is the justice perspective. But others base their decisions on a care perspective, which the need to preserve relationship and minimize hurt takes precedence over considerations of justice and rights.” (Andre).
Using these two methods to base an ethical decision on, we can apply both of them to Crake and see how he handles his urge to view increased explicit content, with the way to viewing it being at the expense of his Uncle Pete. On the “principles of justice, equality, impartiality, and rights”, Crake ignores viewing ethics from this perspective because he sees absolutely nothing wrong with the fact that Uncle Pete is footing the bill for Crake’s questionable habits. Based on viewing Crake’s ethics from a care perspective, the goal is to preserve relationship and minimize hurt but in fact, the exact opposite is being done because his viewing habits are increasing the “hurt” on Uncle Pete by forcing him to pay anonymous bills. In addition to draining Uncle Pete’s pockets, Crake would also steal his skunkweed so that he and Jimmy could enjoy getting high and watching explicit content together, all at Uncle Pete’s expense. From Crake’s disregard of ethics from both perspectives, we can derive that Crake is a man without ethics.
We know that Crake’s lack of ethics leads him so far as to destruction on a global scale, but his lack of ethics also results in him taking advantage of his own family. This is a man without ethics who is a “wild beast” that will go to any extent in order to achieve or acquire whatever he desires. The by-product of Crake’s lack of ethics, including in the field of scientific research, is the death of humanity. As head of RejoovenEsense and access to a plethora of scientific resources, the opportunities are endless as to what Crake could accomplish.
Crake believes that the other pharmaceutical companies are creating diseases instead of curing them. With this golden opportunity, Crake could have countered the very thing he despised about these pharmaceutical companies. The author states “That’s what they’d have called it. They’d have said he was about to destroy an elegant concept. They’d have said they were acting for the general good.”” (Atwood 212).
Instead, Crake took the unethical and hypocritical route and let his power get the best of him by using his resources to develop a virus that in the end, exterminated the entire human race. Scientific research is about developing new methods and ideas that benefit humanity, not destroy it. “Many of the norms of research promote a variety of other important moral and social values, such as social responsibility, human rights, animal welfare, compliance with the law, and health and safety.
” (Resnik). Crake was a “wild beast” loosed upon humanity due to his violation of ethics in scientific research among other aspects. Ultimately, Crake’s lack of ethics is rooted in his behaviour as an adolescent which when combined with the circumstances he has as an adult, leads to his “wild behaviour” that is the cause of humanity’s downfall. There is a correlation between Crake’s influence on humanity and his place on the corporate ladder. As a teen, he was a “wild beast” loosed upon the people he knew but as he reached the mountaintop of corporate status, he became a “wild beast” loosed upon all of humanity.
Simply put without ethics a person cannot go so far in life.