Thoughts from the front lines

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A New Beginning

The idea of a new beginning along with the theme of starting over are what drive the plot of Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam. Throughout the story, the humans as well as the Crakers attempt to create a new life for themselves in a world destroyed by the waterless flood and now inhabited by dangerous painballers. Restarting society is a theme that is also very prominent in the real world, namely in countries that suffer massive disasters, whether they be natural or man made.

In terms of natural disasters, the 2010 Haiti earthquake was devastating, and forced an already poor Haitian society to restart from scratch. The earthquake had a catastrophic magnitude of 7.0 Mw and affected an estimated 3 million people. At least 52 aftershocks of 4.5 Mw or higher were recorded prior to the initial earthquake and the death toll ranged between 100,000 and 160,000 people. Additionally, 250,000 residential buildings and 30,000 commercial buildings collapsed or were severely damaged. Immediately, many countries and organizations came to Haiti’s rescue by pledging funds and sending medical and rescue teams as well as engineers.

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Unlike the group in MaddAddam, Haiti received a lot of help from many different sources, and although the country is still recovering from the natural disaster, they have and still are rebuilding much faster thanks to the external help.

In terms of manmade disasters, the nuclear bombs dropped on the Japanese cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6th and 9th of 1945 were perhaps the most destructive and tragic disasters in human history. This was the first time ever that weapons of this magnitude were used, and they were deployed by the United States military under President Truman in the final stage of World War II. Although the initial explosion was devastating, the worst part came later as radiation exposure continued to affect people many years after.

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This aspect can be compared to MaddAddam. Both the bombs and the disease created by Crake were manmade. Additionally, they both continued to have large impacts after they were initially used. Much like how the effects of radiation exposure were passed on from generation to generation, the disease created by Crake was passed from person to person and its effects are still very notable in the third book of the trilogy.

It therefore appears as though manmade disasters tend to be more catastrophic than those that are natural due to the fact that their effects seem to last much longer. While the earthquake in Haiti is definitely still having negative impacts on the country, its effects will certainly not last as long as those created by the nuclear bombs used against Japan in 1945.

Thankfully, over time, Japan was able to rebuild their societies in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Haiti is also in the process of rebuilding their society, much like the group in MaddAddam is having success in rebuilding theirs. It therefore seems as though societies will always rebuild no matter how badly they are destroyed.

Is there anything capable of completely ending societies, giving them no chance of resurgence?



“Earthquake in Haiti.” International Rescue Committee (IRC), 12 Jan. 2015, Staff. “Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”, A&E Television Networks, 2009,