Mistreatment For Destruction: The Neglect Of Family In Oryx And Crake

1681 words - 7 pages

In a normal functioning family, both parent and child care for and love one another, and display these feelings. A parent is required to nurture his or her child and assure that the child feels loved by spending time together, and by giving the child sufficient attention. However, there are often times when a parent is unable to fulfill these requirements, which can ultimately have damaging effects on the child. A child who is neglected by his or her parents “perceives the world as a hostile and uncaring place. In addition to this negative perception of the world, the neglect a child faces affects later interaction with his or her peers, prompting the child to become anxious and overly withdrawn” (Goldman). This neglectful type of parenting proves to be a pattern in the novel Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood, as the main characters, Jimmy, Crake, and Oryx are crucially affected by their parents’ choices and are unjustly abandoned by them. In this novel, the neglect of parents, especially mothers, is clearly reflected in the behaviours of the three main characters.
Neglecting a child consists not only of failing to provide life’s necessities, such as food, water, shelter and clothing, but also of inadequate attention and love. This parental neglect is seen in several characters, including Jimmy and his mother, Sharon. Sharon works for a large biotechnology corporation, and she is happiest while working there. However, when Jimmy reaches school age, she quits without reason and her mood degenerates. She becomes distant, depressed, and anxious, and no longer pays attention to Jimmy. This lack of attention that Jimmy faces gravely hurts him, but it does not compare to the feelings he experiences when he “finds a note on the kitchen table [from] his mother” indicating that she was leaving (Atwood 72). At the time, Jimmy could not understand why his mother had left him, but because of it, he “mourned for weeks. No, for months” (Atwood 73). However, as his character gradually develops, it is clear that the neglect from his mother affects his behavior. Jimmy, rather than allowing the neglect affect him negatively, learns from his mothers mistakes and tries to treat everyone well, certainly not by abandoning them. In a critical essay by Katherine Synder, it is stated that Jimmy’s past trauma has shaped his future, and that pain he feels not only makes him a better friend, but a better person in general (Synder). This is seen in Jimmy’s relationship with the “Craker’s” when Jimmy becomes responsible for taking care of them. Although it may have been easier for Jimmy to leave, he is against the idea because he is able to empathize with those who are abandoned. Rather than simply deserting and neglecting loved ones, much like Jimmy’s mother, he takes the neglect and allows it to lead him to be a better person.
Much like the neglectful parent-child bond that Jimmy and his mother have, Jimmy’s friend, Glenn, experiences a similar bond with his mother. When...

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