two women ballooned slowly H u m a n i t i e s

two women ballooned slowly H u m a n i t i e s

Motifs in Oryx and Crake

A “motif” is a literary device that show up in authors’ works. A motif is literally ANYTHING that repeats throughout a text and forms a pattern – an image, an object, an action, a sound, a sensation, an emotion, an idea or concept, etc. It isn’t a character, though, so I guess it isn’t “anything” – but it is something that you can “track” through the text in order to distinguish patterns intention in an author’s work.

I would like you to identify FOUR different motifs to look for in Margaret Atwood’s novel, Oryx and Crake. For each category, name one example from chapters 1-3 and include a quotation that shows where you found it. Include a parenthetical citation, as well.

YOU CANNOT REPEAT THE SAME MOTIF(S) AS YOUR COLLEAGUES! That means you’ll need to look over others’ submissions and think of something novel and unique that you want to “track” throughout your text.





An IDEA or CONCEPT: This is for sure the hardest one, and may overlap with action/emotion. That’s ok! The idea is to give yourself 4 things to keep track of in the text, so it doesn’t need to be “perfect.”


For example, if you were doing this project with The Great Gatsby (so as not to preclude any of your good ideas), you might say:


“A breeze blew through the room, blew curtains in at one end and out the other like pale flags, twisting them up toward the frosted wedding-cake of the ceiling, and then rippled over the wine-colored rug, making a shadow on it as wind does on the sea” (Fitzgerald 8).

“Then there was a boom as Tom Buchanan shut the rear windows and the caught wind died out among the room, and the curtains and the rugs and the two women ballooned slowly to the floor” (Fitzgerald 8).

An EMOTION: Surprise

“At this point Miss Baker said: ‘Absolutely!’ with such suddenness that I started…Evidently it surprised her as much as it did me, for she yawned and with a series of rapid, deft movements stood up into the room” (Fitzgerald 10).

An ACTION: Driving

“And so it happened that on a warm spring evening I drove over to East Egg to see two old friends whom I scarcely knew at all” (Fitzgerald 6).

An IDEA or CONCEPT: Physical Strength or Power (still physical)

“Not even the effeminate swank of his riding clothes could hide the enormous power of that body — he seemed to fill those glistening boots until he strained the top lacing, and you could see a great pack of muscle shifting when his shoulder moved under his thin coat” (Fitzgerald 7).

“‘You did it, Tom,’ she said accusingly. ‘I know you didn’t mean to, but you did do it. That’s what I get for marrying a brute of a man, a great, big, hulking physical specimen of a——-‘” (Fitzgerald 12).