The Cost of Production: Animal Welfare and the Post-Industrial Slaughterhouse in Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake

  • Stephanie Lance University of South Florida
Keywords: Speculative Fiction, Animal Welfare, Factory Farming, Genetic Engineering, Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake


Abstract: This article investigates recent biotechnological advances in meat production as represented in Margaret Atwood’s speculative dystopian thriller, Oryx and Crake (2003). The novel’s near-future setting captures the relentless pursuit of science and technology that overrides ethical and humanist concerns. In what follows, I explore representations of slaughter production as Atwood takes the animals out of the slaughterhouse and into the science lab. I aim to apply a postanimal critique to examine the ways in which the novel presents new predicaments that put animal bodies at risk for further manipulation and commodification that is shrouded in the rhetoric of “environmental sustainability.” I argue this reading discovers a new kind of animal subjugation in, what I call, the post-industrial slaughterhouse. In this space, animal bodies are subjected to cruel and unusual experiments to sustain human lives. These new forms of “slaughter” present another layer of difficulty in how we perceive animals in the future of food production.