Just like the names in Green Grass Running Water, Atwood's naming of saint's in The Year of the Flood shows the importance names can have. Each one is also the name of a person we can recognize from our world today, making the novel even more of a commentary on our society and a potentially prescient narrative. Furthermore, looking at the Saint's easily contributes to our discussion on heroes, as it is clear that these are God's Gardeners heroes. Without knowing anything of GG's, we could see from their array of environmentalist, scientist, naturalist, and adventurist saints, that these are values the GG's deem heroic.
Most of the names are simply stated, and no real information about them is offered in the novel. I've found what I believe is the majority of the Saint names and linked them to their real world counterparts. The page numbers for where I found them are in brackets. Many of them were extremely difficult to find, either because there are several people with the same name, and the most famous of those made no sense as GG saints, so I had to dig deeper to find the environmentalist, or scientist or so on that would make sense as a saint. A couple are extremely obscure at least in English writings, and so I've only managed to link a paper they were one of the writers for. And again some of them only have one name, such that I had to guess at who she meant. Some of this was easier contextually, such as Crozier, since he was mentioned in the book alongside Shackleton, and of course Terry could only be Terry Fox, and when he was mentioned it was alongside a story of his heroism. Unfortunately, Bashir Alouse continues to elude me.
Saint Bashir Alouse Day (17) is the first mentioned, but it is again mentioned on page 61 when Ren complains of remembering all the names: "Some of them were easy. Saint Yossi Leshem of Barn Owls - well, it was obvious what the answer was. And Saint Dian Fossey, because the story was so sad, and Saint Shackleton, because it was heroic. But some of them were really hard. Who could remember Saint Bashir Alouse, or Saint Crick, or Podocarp Day?" Saint Crick is later the day on which Toby first sees the liobams (94), which is fitting as the liobams were created through the manipulation (and perhaps even perversion) of Crick's work.
Saint Farley of Wolves (68) is the day Ren first meets Amanda, and was a "Young Bioneer day" for the young Gardener's to learn survival skills as well as recycling and other re-claiming waste. It's an important part of the Gardener's love of nature and the environment.
Saint Maria Sibylla Merian of Insect Metamorphosis Day, is when Pilar first opens up to Toby about personal lives and history of the Gardener's, and their connections to the upper levels of society and all the shady operations that go on there. (104)
Saint Allan Sparrow of Clean Air Day has Toby commenting that it "had so far [not] lived up to it's name." (112) It's definitely ironic, but likely not unusual for the air in the world as it has become, to be unclean. It makes me wonder if later once the humans have died, if the air is becoming cleaner again. Is that possible?
Saint Euell of Wild Foods is a week event for the Gardener's, and according to Adam One they will be "foraging for the Wild Harvest gifts that God, through Nature, has put at our disposal." Looking at this sentence now, I'm noting the capitalization of "nature" right alongside the capitalization of "god". Is nature as sacred to the Gardener's as God himself? (125)
On page 163 Toby lists off a number of Saints names: "Saint E.F. Schumacher, Saint Jane Jacobs, Saint Sigurdsdottir of Gullfoss, Saint Wayne Grady of Vultures; Saint James Lovelock, The Blessed Gautama Buddha, Saint Bridget Stutchbury of Shade Coffee, Saint Linnaeus of Botanical Nomenclature, The Feast of Crocodylidae, Saint Stephen Jay Gould of the Jurassic Shales, Saint Gilberto Silva of Bats." None of these seem to have any particular connection to one another, though it is generally readily clear, with their various expertise or work with animals or the environment, why they are GG's saints. I'm hesitant on my link to Sigurdsdottir, as the myth about the daughter of Sigurd never mentioned Gullfoss, or any other part of Iceland or other waterfall. However she does talk to birds at one point, so I can see why the GG's would like her!
Saint Orlando Garrido of Lizards Day is Toby's first time seeing the blue people, or the attempted perfecting of humanity. I'm not sure it was Atwood's intention, but this combination makes me think of aliens, as so often our sci-fi has alien lizard-like species attacking Earth, and to Toby, and any human seeing them, the blue people would seem utterly alien.
There are two saints in Adam One's speech on April Fish Day (196): Jesus, who called on two apostles to be "fisher of men instead of being fishers of Fish, thus neutralizing two destroyers of Fish!" and Saint Francis of Assisi who "preached a sermon to the Fish, not realizing that the Fish commune directly with God. Still, the Saint was affirming the respect due to them." I'm not surprised to see that the Saints connected with fish are both of Christian tradition (Francis being a present day Catholic saint), since the fish is a symbol of Christianity, and a strong theme throughout especially the New Testament of the Bible.
Saint Jacques Cousteau's Day (240) and Saint Aleksander Zawadzki of Galicia Day (250) occur just prior to Toby leaving the garden and becoming Tobiatha. These men both, among other things, studied life-forms, the former studying sea-life while the latter studied beetles and butterflies.
Several saints are mentioned during Adam Ones speech for Pollination Day "on which we remember the contributions to forest preservation of Saint Suryamani Bhagat of India, Saint Stephen King of the Pureora Forest in New Zealand, and Saint Odigha of Nigeria, among so many others." (276) After spending ages pouring over Stephen King the author's biography, and finally realizing that a different Stephen King was a conservationist connected with the Pureora Forest, I have to wonder what Atwood's purpose was using such a well-known name of today in this somewhat mis-leading fashion. Did she want to allude to the science fiction and horror of his novels to highlight the darkness of the society she writes about?
In his following speech, another several are mentioned: "Today is Saint Dian's Day, consecrated to interspecies empathy. On this day we invoke Saint Jerome of Lions, and Saint Robert Burns of Mice, and Saint Christopher Smart of Cats; also Saint Farley Mowat of Wolves, and the Ikhwan al-Safa and the Letter of the Animals." (311) I do wonder why particular animals were chosen to be mentioned. She never used Jane Goodall as a saint of Chimpanzees for instance. Was there a reason for choosing both a wild (Lion) and tame version of "cats", alongside an animal cats eat (Mice) and the wild version (Wolf) of a stereotypical cat antagonizer? (A dog.) It seems unlikely that her choice would be random, but I
Saint Karen Silkwood Day (319) is when Toby's life-saving garden at the AnooYoo spa is uprooted by pigoons, and on Saint Anil Agarwal Day (325), she leaves her sanctuary for the first time since retrieving the rifle to collect "animal protein".
On Saint Nganeko Minhinnick of Manukau Day (349), Toby unknowingly shoots Blanco , on Saint Wen Bo Day (353) she and Ren meet again for the first time since the Waterless Flood, and for the next few days (Saint Mahatma Ghandhi (359), Saint Henri Fabre, Saint Anna Atkins, Saint Tim Flannery, Saint Ichida-San, Saint David Suzuki, Saint Peter Matthiessen (361)) she is tending to Ren's wounds and delirium. They leave the spa together on Saint Chico Mendes, martyr, Day (365). I have no idea where Atwood got "Ichida-San" as "San" is simply an added form of respect in Japanese. I found an "Ichida" who seemed to fit GG values as much as possible. Is she trying to be purposefully misleading and obscure? Or are all of these people ones that she knows well and I simply do not have the benefit of her particular sphere of knowledge? Perhaps through this novel, the reader is getting a glimpse of Atwood's own heroes, or even Atwood's own "Canada".
On Saint Rachel Carson and All Birds Day, Toby and Ren reunite with Crozier, and join all the surviving MaddAddam members.
In Adam One's speech for Saint Terry and all Wayfarers Day, he says "On this day we remember, too, Saint Sojourner Truth, guide of escaping slaves two centuries ago, who walked so many miles with only the stars to guide her; and Saints Shackleton and Crozier, of Antarctic and Arctic fame; and Saint Laurence "Titus" Oates of the Scott Expedition, who hiked where no man had hiked before, and who sacrificed himself during a blizzard for the welfare of his companions." The three brothers in the book are named after the these three male explorers, and Oates' death at the hands of their captures is a clear reference to the death of the explorer, though while the latter died intentionally, it was in vain as his companions later died as well, and the former's unintentional death, nonetheless allowed for the escape of his companions, and they all ultimately survived.
The final saint, and the day on which Ren, Toby, Amanda, and Jimmy have a meager feast, is Saint Julian of Norwich and All Souls Day. I find it interesting that the last Saint of the novel is a purely religious figure. In the end the only character's to survive are those who all along either disbelieved or at least questioned the God's Gardener's beliefs. It leaves open the question about whether now, as the survivors attempt to rebuild, it will be along the lines of GG teachings and beliefs. Will the religious aspects be carried forward? Only the conservationist and survivalist teachings? Or will the surviving group fully move away from anything the religious group had taught?
As usual, Atwood leaves the reader with more questions than answers.