Jimmy is so habituated to disaster and apocalypse that it has become absorbed into ordinary life and habit, reducing even catastrophic events to part of the daily humdrum. The rhythm of disaster, predictable, makes it less important, only a peripheral concern in a society whose primary goal seems to be economic and business gain. Instead of acting, then, pursuing a change, Jimmy does nothing: the apocalypse has become normalized, a part of the rhythms of daily life, and therefore unchangeable and even necessary.
Instead, Jimmy focuses on story creation. He prefers stories that are linear, self-contained, built upon predictable cause-effect, hero-centric narratives, and views all deviations from this mode as unnecessary and unwanted distractions, exterior ephemera on the unimportant periphery of the tale. The apocalypse becomes one of these ephemeral, timeless background elements of his narratives, a part of the ‘setting’ of the story, but not essential in his plot-based stories. Oryx is so strange to Jimmy because she removes herself from this hierarchy, a removal made even more dramatic to him by virtue of her femininity. Believing himself entirely knowledgeable of women, Jimmy runs through girlfriends much like the society runs through apocalypses; they are interchangeable, simply “girlfriend[s] of the moment,” bound to be shuffled through in a repetitive, predictable cycle (241). He seeks merely to “mend [them], do the repairs, freshen up the paint,” just as the society continually covers up and reabsorbs disasters into the daily norm, offering people a “simple order” to follow in the face of change (246), with the express goal of resisting or at least not admitting that any change has in fact occurred.
Oryx, however, has already undergone an earth-shattering apocalypse in being removed from her home; however, she refuses Jimmy’s linear narrative by continuing to grow and change in spite of the disaster. She appears only on the periphery of stories, refusing a finite, linear form by her existence in memory, dream and myth. Instead of being itemized and pinned as most women are by Jimmy, objectified and made monotonous, she refuses a linear narrative, refuses to be bound by his words. His memories of her are fleeting, elusive and incomplete, unresolved and unsatisfactory, providing little in the way of information or the resolution he desires. The dream of her also refuses form, “drifting” on “soft feathery wings,” appearing to him only in moments of physical and mental darkness, embodied only by a sound associated intimately with the equal refusal of form (through abandonment) of his mother: “Whuff!” (238)
Even when Jimmy attempts to fix her memory to a specific story, the myth of her grows beyond his story, both outside of and more potent than the story itself. The female Children of Crake develop their own mythology for Oryx, their own methods for communicating with her, which Jimmy cannot control as he does their communication with Crake. Although the Crakers accept that “Only Snowman can ever see Crake,” the women both “commune” with Oryx and refuse Jimmy’s ability as the sole prophet of Oryx. They claim both access to her and authority to her word—“That is a matter for Oryx,” they say, acknowledging that although Jimmy alone communicates with Crake, Oryx is a myth embodying communal, feminine power, outside of the lone, masculine existence of Jimmy.
Oryx is an embodiment of Jimmy’s ultimate fears of triviality and anonymity, the fear that in his conception of what is normal (for the environment and for women), he has, perhaps, made a crucial mistake. After being shown the death of his mother, Jimmy loses his will even to seduce women, having been shown the narrative of her outside of his own typical narcissistic “psychodrama” (259). In his downward spiral after this moment, he loses hold even on language, the very thing he has traditionally used to create his solidity, linearity and purpose in the world; it becomes “thin, contingent, slippery,” finally vanishing altogether from his grasp when he dreams in only images, images of women with a “ruthless wisdom…much older than they appeared to be, and much more powerful as well” (260-61).
Of course, Jimmy does not lose his denial of the catastrophic reality entirely; even in reaching for a more holistic understanding of the universe, unconsciously through the dream, he trivializes his own potentially transformational realization: “girls,” he calls the women, refusing them the autonomy, the authority of adulthood.