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Empathy In Oryx And Crake Essay

In the novel, Oryx and Crake, empathy is shown to convey the author’s truth about abandonment in someone’s early life. Empathy is used to identify what a person is feeling in many different situations including traumatic events. The protagonist Jimmy has found out that his mother has left him and his father and is going through many emotions in his head, trying to cope of what has happened. “Maybe she had loved Jimmy, thinks Snowman. In her own manner. Though he hadn’t believed it at the time. Maybe, on the other hand, she hadn’t loved him. She must have had some sort of positive emotion about him though.

Wasn’t there supposed to be a maternal bond? ” (Atwood 72). This quote has the device of empathy as it identifies how Jimmy is feeling after he learns the news that his mother has left him. He is going through many different emotions like confusion by asking questions like, “Maybe she loved Jimmy? ” and “Wasn’t there supposed to be a maternal bond? ” and depression as he is mourning the loss of his mother. Identifying what a character is feeling plays an important role of finding the traumatic event in someone’s early life to foreshadow how they will feel in their adult life.

When a mother decides to abandon their child, they are left to feel many emotions mentally and psychologically and grieve for a long period. In Genevieve van Wyden article, Mother Abandonment & the Effects on the Child, she believes “His (child) thinking is; My mom didn’t love me. She left me, so this means I’m not lovable; He experiences confusion and asks questions about why his mother left him. He feels guilt, believing that he did something so bad; that it made his mother leave him behind. ” (LiveStrong. com).

A child will go through numerous thoughts about why their mother left and will often blame themselves because they were not a good son or daughter. This is exactly how Jimmy was feeling when he was a child as he blames himself for not being a good son and asking what did he do that made her mother leave him and he continues to go through this in his mind in his adult life. Thus, empathy is used to express feelings of being abandoned by their loved ones and what they will go through after learning they have been left abandoned.

Margaret Atwood uses a narrative convention of the protagonist to establish the effects of rejection in through adulthood and how it can be unhealthy. The protagonist Jimmy does not have much luck towards women as he faces rejection to numerous women he sees, beginning with being rejected by his first crush Wakulla Price. Being rejected by her has changed his emotions on dealing with rejection when he is an adult as he feels aggressive, angry and is obsessed with having sex with someone. This is shown when he is suddenly rejected by a woman who is having an affair with Jimmy who loves her husband more instead of Jimmy.

After that they’d had a fight, and she’d cried, which strangely enough had made Jimmy feel better. After that they’d finished the Scotch. After that they’d had more sex, and this time Jimmy had enjoyed himself but his lover hadn’t, because he’d been too rough and fast and had not said anything flattering to her the way he usually did. (Atwood 344). This quote expresses Jimmy’s alter ego as he would stay calm when he believes the relationship is going considerably well but will suddenly snap when he gets rejected by one of his lovers.

When he gets rejected to the woman he falls in love with, he suddenly has a flashback to his teenage years when he was rejected by his first crush Wakulla Price and will suddenly will get aggressive towards them, reminding himself how women would always abandon him. There are many mixed feelings when getting rejected. It can be anger, the sense of loneliness, depression or feel all three of these emotions at the same time. Counsellor and Relationship Therapist Elly Prior gives tips on rejection and explains what people feel when facing rejection.

As human beings, we have a strong need to feel secure. But after you’ve been rejected your sense of security is threatened, you may feel abandoned, scared and/or hopeless…rejection now may fuel you feeling that you are ‘not worthy’ of having someone special. It may also be that you have felt rejected over a period of time-perhaps in the bedroom, or by your partner generally treat you with contempt. (Professional Counselling). Rejection is something huge to deal with in life and there are many emotions a person goes through in his or her mind.

The main effect of getting rejected would be the sense of worthlessness and abandonment. In the novel, Jimmy goes through many emotions when he is always rejected by one of his lovers. After he gets rejected to the many women he loves, he feels angry towards women and himself, telling himself that he is worthless and he will go through a flashback of being abandoned by other women that left him in his life, including his mother. In conclusion, the effects of rejection can lead to many emotions like anger and loneliness and later there would be trust issues of trusting those that are willing to accept them.

In the novel Oryx and Crake, the literary device of repetition is used to further explain the abandonment of family and not getting the chance to express their feelings when they grow up. Oryx has gone through many traumatic events from her family abandoning her when she was a child to going through the sex trade as she is still traumatized when she is an adult. She does not talk about the past as she does not want to re-live those memories. “‘No,’ said Jimmy. ‘Why won’t you tell me? ’ ‘Why do you care? ’ said Oryx. ‘I don’t care. I never think about it. It’s long ago now. ’” (Atwood 142).

The repetition of the words “why” and “I” refers to Oryx not wanting to explain her tragic past as she does not wish to talk about. She has it locked up these memories in her head which shows she has trust issues explaining her past to other people. People hiding their emotions can be a sign of weakness as they do not want to share their feelings because they do not trust people of knowing how they feel. Dr. John Grohol, researcher of mental health and founder of Psych Central, explains the reasons on not expressing emotions in his article 10 Reasons You Can’t Say How You Feel. You believe that you should not have feelings such as anger, jealousy, depression or anxiety. You think you should always be rational and in control of your emotions. You are afraid of being exposed as weak and vulnerable. You believe that people will belittle or reject you if they know how you really feel. ” (PsychCentral). When people do not want to express what they are feeling, they believe it is not necessary to show their sadness and anger as it is a weakness. Oryx feels the same way as she does not talk about her background story and explaining how she feels about it.

Instead, she keeps this locked up in her head because she does not trust anyone of understanding her background story but it makes thing worse as she feels depressed about her past life. In conclusion, the novel takes a look at not sharing their hidden thoughts about abandonment because of trust issues towards others. The novel looks at the lack of family relationship and the effects of it from the past to adulthood through the literary device of repetition. After his mother left, Jimmy got used to seeing Ramona as his step-mother.

He gives her a chance during his childhood and teenage years but he does not view Ramona as her mother anymore and feels angry of having Ramona in his life. “She was allowed to say we and to kiss him, because she was now officially his stepmother. His real mother had been divorced from his father in absentia, for ‘desertion,’…At the wedding Jimmy got as drunk as it took… ‘Who cares, who cares,’ he’d whispered to himself. He didn’t want to have a father anyway, or be a father, or have a son or be one. ” (Atwood 214).

The two words of “Who cares” is repeated twice which expresses Jimmy’s anger that Ramona is officially his step-mother as he did not want Ramona to be part of his life. He is going through an Ego Identity vs. Role Confusion psychological crisis as he is thinking about becoming independent when he mentions does not want to have his father, having kids of his own and Ramona part of his life which explains him the independence he wants because he does not trust women and wants to re-examine his identity.

Majority of children who are introduced to their stepmother or stepfather have a hard time getting to know their new parent especially kids getting to know their stepmothers. Author and social researcher of the article Why It’s Easier to Love a Stepfather Than a Stepmother Wednesday Martin, looks at the tensions between step-mothers and step-children and how children feel about this change. Children, young adults, and adults have a harder time accepting a stepmother than they do a stepfather. This frequently translates into hostile and rejecting behavior.

Simply put, the literature on step parenting bears out the reality that stepmothers generally have a tougher row to hoe than do stepdads, and much of this difficulty steps from feeling rejected by and actually being rejected by their stepchildren of any age. (Psychology Today) Majority of children do not accept or give their step-mothers a chance to get to know each other and as a result, they have a harder time trying to bond with their step-children. Children reject their step-mother because they do not trust them and wish to have their biological mother be part of their life instead.

This is exactly how Jimmy feels as he keeps on rejecting Ramona being his step-mother because she does not trust her to being her mother and feels both have nothing in common as he still misses his mother and believes no one can replace her. In conclusion, the lack of family relationships is due to the relationship between step-mother and step-children as children do not trust their new step-mother to be their new mother and be part of their life as they want to stay independent.

Margaret Atwood utilizes the literary device of an oxymoron to establish the unhealthy choices adults make when feeling emotional after going through a traumatic event. After Jimmy’s mother abandoned him when he was a child, Jimmy learns the news that she has been executed which allows Jimmy to go through another round of depression and having to accept her mother is gone forever. His depression goes even further as he decides to get drunk and have sex with other women to help feel better. “He was drinking alone now, at night, a bad sign.

He shouldn’t be doing that, it only depressed him, but he had to dull the pain. The pain of what? The pain of the raw torn places, the damaged membranes where he’d whanged up against the Great Indifference of the Universe. ” (Atwood 314-15). This quote uses an oxymoron to express an opposite effect to what Jimmy is feeling as he thinks drinking is making him more depressed but he wants to cure his pain while drinking. With how much he is drinking shows how Jimmy does not want to live his life anymore as he essentially needs love and belongness from his mother in order to continue living life and be happy in life.

To many people who are stressed out and depressed, they believe drinking alcohol is a good way to relieve their stress and depression but it makes it worse according to an article on WebMD. “Alcohol is a depressant. That means any amount you drink can make you more likely to get the blues. Drinking a lot can harm your brain and lead to depression. When you drink too much, you’re more likely to make bad decisions or act on impulse. ” (WebMD). By continuing to drink alcohol, it causes many to stay depressed longer and allows them to make unhealthy choices in order for them to feel better like expressing anger or doing something stupid.

Jimmy continues to drink alcohol as he thinks it will make him feel better but he continues to feel worse. As a result, he makes unhealthy choices like getting drunk and having rough sex to help him feel better but it does not. Thus, experiencing a traumatic event when they are an adult causes them feel emotional and allows them to make unhealthy choices like drinking alcohol which makes things worse as it can lead them to make bad decisions in life. The novel looks at how the internet is symbolized to influence teens to make bad decisions by creating new friendships after losing their old friend.

Jimmy lost his rakunk friend, Killer after his mother took Killer with him which allowed Jimmy to mourn for months. He makes a new friend named Crake and he begins a new friendship with him but it allows him to make some bad decisions while spending time with him like going on into the deep net. When they weren’t playing games, they’d surf the Net – drop in on old favourites, see what was new. They’d watch open-heart surgery in live time…or they’d watch dirtysockpuppets. com, a current-affairs show about world political leaders…or they might watch hedsoff. com, which played live coverage of executions in Asia. (Atwood 99).

In this quote, the “Net” symbolizes the negative influences that Jimmy faces when he watches these executions and pornography with Crake. Going onto the deep web is Crake’s idea and influences Jimmy to go onto illegal websites with him. Jimmy has no choice but to follow him along as he feels vulnerable and lonely after losing his friend Killer and he is right now open to friendships that have a negative influence on him. A teen’s brain to fully develop is when they are in their mid twenties as the brain is only 80% developed for a teen.

In an article called How Teen Experiences Affect Your Brain For Life, neuroscientist Dr. Frances Jensen looks at the road for a teen’s brain to reach maturity. “Our brains are not finished maturing by adolescence, as was previously thought… Healthy relationships have a positive effect on how an adolescent navigates through a tumultuous period of life…this reliance on friends makes young people susceptible to the influence of peer pressure. ” (Newsweek). Teens will try to explore their life further as they learn to make decisions on their own. The majority of their decisions are a result of immature decisions as their brain has not fully developed to become mature.

Jimmy begins to make decisions on his own, starting with becoming friends with Crake and joining him on going onto illegal websites to watch executions and pornography. He feels pressured from Crake as he encourages Jimmy to watch these executions and porn with him and later he enjoys going onto the deep net. This shows the immaturity he still has in his brain and how he is beginning to become delinquent in society. Thus, the novel looks at the loss of a friend and making a new friend but it results in being negatively influenced by their new friends which leads to immaturity and becoming delinquent in the future.

In conclusion, Margaret Atwood’s novel Oryx and Crake conveys a truth that going through abandonment as a child by a parent can result in trust issues when forming new relationships and will often lead to making unhealthy choices in life. She uses literary devices of empathy, oxymoron repetition and symbolism, the narrative convention of the protagonist as well as taking a look at psychological theories to demonstrate the impact of abandonment through adulthood.

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