“Footprint”: The Apocalyptic Imprint of End as Immanent in Atwood’s Oryx and Crake

Denise B. Dillon

Abstract


In her speculative fiction novel, Oryx and Crake, Atwood explores and challenges readers with visions of loss: the extinction of life forms, of culture, and loss of human control over various systems including those of language, economy and ecology. All such systems are prone to human manipulative influence and sensitive to minor alterations that result in major disruptions and ultimately to extinction, disappearance (both forms of loss) or, at best, altered forms of survival. I consider here McKibben’s suggestion that we live in a “postnatural world” because human activity has altered things as fundamental as the weather, and explore Atwood’s depiction of some of the consequences of a human-altered future in which a great city transforms into a harsh, tropical wilderness. I also apply Buell’s notion that apocalyptic rhetoric serves to alert people to global environmental threats by arousing their imagination to a “sense of crisis,” through this “master metaphor”. If only perceptions to threats are sufficiently aroused such that people are spurred to action, real apocalypse might thereby be delayed.  Buell expresses the view that the environmental imagination has a sure role in how people might be able to adapt to transformations in the environment by gaining understanding of what the human relation to nature can be and what it should be. The notion of apocalypse is a strong and enduring theme in literature and is of particular relevance to speculative fiction pertaining to human desire to exercise ultimate control, as is Oryx and Crake.


Keywords


apocalyptic rhetoric; ecocriticism; environmental imagination; tropical cities in literature

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References


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.25120/etropic.17.2.2018.3657

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