Cloud Atlas: A Novel
By the New York Times bestselling author of The Bone Clocks | Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize | Includes a new Afterword by David Mitchell A postmodern visionary and one of the leading voices in twenty-first-century fiction, David Mitchell combines flat-out adventure, a Nabokovian love of puzzles, a keen eye for character, and a taste for mind-bending, philosophical and scientific speculation in the tradition of Umberto Eco, Haruki Murakami, and Philip K. Dick. The result is brilliantly original fiction as profound as it is playful. In this groundbreaking novel, an influential favorite among a new generation of writers, Mitchell explores with daring artistry fundamental questions of reality and identity. Cloud Atlas begins in 1850 with Adam Ewing, an American notary voyaging from the Chatham Isles to his home in California. Along the way, Ewing is befriended by a physician, Dr. Goose, who begins to treat him for a rare species of brain parasite. . . . Abruptly, the action jumps to Belgium in 1931, where Robert Frobisher, a disinherited bisexual composer, contrives his way into the household of an infirm maestro who has a beguiling wife and a nubile daughter. . . . From there we jump to the West Coast in the 1970s and a troubled reporter named Luisa Rey, who stumbles upon a web of corporate greed and murder that threatens to claim her life. . . . And onward, with dazzling virtuosity, to an inglorious present-day England; to a Korean superstate of the near future where neocapitalism has run amok; and, finally, to a postapocalyptic Iron Age Hawaii in the last days of history. But the story doesn’t end even there. The narrative then boomerangs back through centuries and space, returning by the same route, in reverse, to its starting point. Along the way, Mitchell reveals how his disparate characters connect, how their fates intertwine, and how their souls drift across time like clouds across the sky. As wild as a videogame, as mysterious as a Zen koan, Cloud Atlas is an unforgettable tour de force that, like its incomparable author, has transcended its cult classic status to become a worldwide phenomenon. Praise for Cloud Atlas “[David] Mitchell is, clearly, a genius. He writes as though at the helm of some perpetual dream machine, can evidently do anything, and his ambition is written in magma across this novel’s every page.”—The New York Times Book Review “One of those how-the-holy-hell-did-he-do-it? modern classics that no doubt is—and should be—read by any student of contemporary literature.”—Dave Eggers “Wildly entertaining . . . a head rush, both action-packed and chillingly ruminative.”—People “The novel as series of nested dolls or Chinese boxes, a puzzle-book, and yet—not just dazzling, amusing, or clever but heartbreaking and passionate, too. I’ve never read anything quite like it, and I’m grateful to have lived, for a while, in all its many worlds.”—Michael Chabon “Cloud Atlas ought to make [Mitchell] famous on both sides of the Atlantic as a writer whose fearlessness is matched by his talent.”—The Washington Post Book World “Thrilling . . . One of the biggest joys in Cloud Atlas is watching Mitchell sashay from genre to genre without a hitch in his dance step.”—Boston Sunday Globe “Grand and elaborate . . . [Mitchell] creates a world and language at once foreign and strange, yet strikingly familiar and intimate.”—Los Angeles Times From the Trade Paperback edition.
The curriculet is being added to your library
Chapter 1 - The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing
Cloud Atlas is unique in that each chapter is written in a different genre. This also gives the author the opportunity to explore different points of view. Watch the following video to learn more about point of view: (This annotation contains a video)
Mr. Ewing chooses the text for the church service based on his own experiences. How do Ewing and The Prophetess come to be on this Pacific island?
The Chatham Islands can be found in the Pacific Ocean about 423 miles southeast of New Zealand. They consist of about ten islands within a 25 mile radius, the largest of which are Chatham Island and Pitt Island. The Maori are the indigenous people of New Zealand, while the Moriori are the indigeous people of Chatham Island. (This annotation contains an image)
Based on the author's word choices in this passage, which of the following statements is supported by Walker's description of the Widow Bryden and Dr. Goose?
While the author uses more than one literary device in this passage, what kind of literary device does he use to describe the creek?
Among sailors, Friday is an unlucky day to start a voyage. In addition, a "Jonah" is someone or something who is bad luck (after the Biblical story of Jonah and the whale). Hence, the phrase "Friday is a Jonah amongst sailors" means a very unlucky day indeed.
Did you know that you can look up any word in the text of the book or the text of the questions and answers? Just click (or press on mobile devices) the word you want to define and hold until the blue text selector pops up. When you release, a "define" option will appear. Since some of these genres use complicated vocabulary, make sure you use this feature frequently. Is there a word on this page you need to look up, such as "desiderata"?
In all of Autua's travels, what is one belief that runs as a common theme among all of the places he visits?
Which of the following statements by the Captain and Mr. Boerhaave are intended to prove that Ewing is lying about just finding Autua in his cabin?
"Rats behind the arras" is an allusion to Hamlet, Act III scene iv, when the king's right hand man Polonius hides behind an arras or tapestry in Queen Gertrude's room. When Hamlet hears Polonius behind the carpet (and believes it to be his uncle the King), he asks if it is a rat and promptly runs his sword through the arras, killing Polonius. (This annotation contains a link)
Follow the link to listen to the song "Shenandoah" as you read the text. This version is even set on a ship, making it doubly appropriate for this scene! Note there are some changes in text between the two versions. (This annotation contains a video)
So Adam Ewing's journal ends here mid-sentence, to be picked up again at the very end of the novel. At this point in the narrative, what do you predict Ewing's fate might be by the end of the novel?
Chapter 2 - Letters from Zedelghem
Keep in mind that we are shifting genres and settings in each chapter. In Chapter 2 we move from a diary to a series of letters, and the setting moves from the Pacific islands to the Dutch-speaking northern portion of Belgium.
Based on textual evidence in this first paragraph, which of the following would be the most logical occupation for the narrator of Chapter 2?
This is a (very long!) video of Ralph Vaughan Williams' "Sea Symphony," which the narrator Robert Frobisher imagines playing in his head as he leaves on a ship bound for Belgium. Listen to the first 60 seconds to understand what the music sounds like and how it contributes to the mood of this paragraph. (This annotation contains a video)
In answering Sixsmith's telegram, Robert gives more information on his family situation. Which of the following is an accurate interpretation of his description of his "Mater"?
A ha-ha is an actual landscape feature designed to keep livestock out of a garden or to keep vehicles from having access to property. (This annotation contains an image)
By the end of their first work session together, how are both Frobisher and Ayrs feeling about the work and each other?
Eva replied, "This lake has belonged to my family for five centuries! You are here how long exactly? About three weeks! So you see, I'm going where I please!"
Note the connection between the first and second chapters of the novel. Frobisher makes an interesting assertion based on his reading of the text--that Dr. Goose is slowly poisoning Adam for his money. Did you pick up this impression upon reading Chapter 1?
What does the fact that the author chose to put these sentences together suggest about Robert and Jocasta?
What is one thing that Robert's actions in this passage do NOT suggest about Robert's character?
Frobisher makes use of two literary allusions here--the first is to Shakespeare's Shylock, the Jewish moneylender in The Merchant of Venice. The second "magical portrait" reference is to Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, about a young man who sells his soul to stay young while his portrait ages and reflects his amoral, corrupt lifestyle. (This annotation contains an image)
Here Frobisher makes another literary reference, this time to French poet Arthur Rimbaud who, at 17, apprenticed himself to another French poet, Paul Verlaine. Their subsequent turbulent affair led eventually to Verlaine's shooting and wounding Rimbaud and Rimbaud writing Saison en Enfer or "A Season in Hell". (This annotation contains an image)
When Frobisher comments that Ayrs was "pleased as the cat who got the cream," what literary device is he using?
Chapter 3 - Half-Lives: The First Luisa Rey Mystery
Note another shift in genre, this time to a mystery story. Also, could Rufus Sixsmith be the Sixsmith to whom Frobisher was corresponding in the last story? If Sixsmith was in his 20's in 1931, then this would set this chapter around 1977. Watch the following video on point of view to get an even better perspective on the structure of this genre: (This annotation contains a video)
Based on the passages in italics, which type of point of view is the author using in this chapter?
Charade was not, in fact, a Hitchcock film. However, it does have similarities to Cloud Atlas in that it is a movie with elements from three different genres of film--suspense thriller, romance and comedy. (This annotation contains an image)
What does the observation that Luisa "doesn't consider the question" when asked about protecting sources tell us about Luisa's character?
It's ironic (and a bit frightening) to think that eleven of the twelve scientists know there is a problem with the new reactor but have been convinced not to talk. Watch the following video on types of irony to help you better determine how the author is using irony in this section: (This annotation contains a video)
Based on the fact that Grimaldi and Hooks are portraying themselves in one way and saying completely opposite things that no one else can hear, what type of irony would this demonstrate?
New literary device! Tmesis comes from a Greek word meaning "to cut." When an author "cuts" a phrase apart by inserting another word ("Greenwich goddamn Village"), that is tmesis.
Ah, we now have proof of the connection between this and the previous story! Think about what these letters mean to Sixsmith. Why would the author have Sixsmith put nine of the letters in the Bible in the cabinet?
What does the condition of the letters suggest?
This is the song which Frobisher and Ayrs composed together late one evening, later known as "Cloud Atlas Sextet": (This annotation contains a video)
An oxymoron is a figure of speech in which two apparently contradictory terms appear together (such as "living death"). Which character in this passage is described using an oxymoron?
Activism has had a significant role in influencing policy in the U.S. The U.S. News article below shows how the government has changed the way they do business based on the Yucca Mountain protests: (This annotation contains a link)
The idea of thoughtcrime or having beliefs contrary to the ruling party (or organization in this instance) comes from George Orwell's novel 1984. Watch the following video clip about thoughtcrime and Newspeak from 1984 before answering the next question: (This annotation contains a video)
In the video clip, even though Winston is told that the verb "to be" has been abolished, he goes on quoting Hamlet's "To be or not to be" speech from Act III. Which of the following lines from Cloud Atlas illustrate that Sachs is not yet ready to turn his thoughtcrime into action?
Based on the highlighted description, which word best describes Isaac's and Luisa's mood in this scene?
The questions Napier is asking himself in this passage point to which type of irony?
Sachs is trying to give Luisa a message in code, assuming that her phone has been tapped. This is the perfect one minute video clip to explain the concept of dolce far niente, from "Eat Pray Love": (This annotation contains a video)
With which theme would Sachs agree based on his actions in this passage?
There are a number of literary devices used in this passage. Which of the following is an example of personification?
Chapter 4 - The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish
The first-person narrator was a clue, but now we know for certain that the new genre will be the memoirs of Timothy Cavendish, set in London.
If Dermot proceeded to throw someone over the railing, which literary device would be illustrated by this phrase?
OBE stands for Order of the British Empire, which recognizes distinguished service to the arts. Felix apparently has been knighted by Order of the British Empire, hence the "Sir" status. (This annotation contains an image)
Ok, we now have the connection to the last story--it has become a manuscript in the possession of Timothy Cavendish, editor. Note the author Hilary Hush; the fact that Timothy is "dubious" about the author's name means he doesn't believe it's her real name.
What can we infer will be Timothy's next move based on his observation that "Blood is thicker than water"?
Based on textual evidence from this passage, how is Timothy feeling as he watches out the window and sees places he visited as a boy?
While the "define" feature is usually helpful, there is no definition for "mackasser." What looks at first to be some type of English verb is instead a mispronunciation of "massacre."
Mr. Cavendish definitely makes ample use of figurative language in his segment. Which of the following best captures Timothy's reaction to the ticket agent's statement that Timothy should be happy he is only stranded and not dead from a train derailment?
Based on the Rastafarian's statement and Timothy's reaction to the "cigar," we can infer that it probably wasn't regular tobacco, which explains what happens to Timothy next.
Had you figured out where Timothy was, dear Reader? His brother definitely took care of Timothy this time, tricking him into checking himself into a nursing home!
Here Cavendish is alluding to a 1973 sci-fi film where the world's people are being fed a substance they've been told is made of plankton. In fact, Soylent Green is made of people, and the world's population is being kept alive only by eating each other.
With which of the following themes would Cavendish perhaps agree now, based on his recent escapade?
Cloud Atlas Quiz 1
Chapter 5 - An Orison Of Sonmi∼451
The next genre of Cloud Atlas, "An Orison of Sonmi-451," is in the form of an interview between the Archivist and Sonmi-451, a "fabricant" or cloned human server in the near future.
Pay attention to the nouns used by Sonmi-451 in describing her job--matins, catechism, sermon, vespers. In using this terminology, to what does this society relate working at a fast food restaurant?
Based on the allusion to Luke 22:1-6, which of the following would be the best synonym for the verb 'judas' as it is used in the story?
It's interesting to note that the author uses the word "judas" here as a verb. Judas is an allusion to the Biblical story of Judas Iscariot. Read the first few verses of Luke Chapter 22 before answering the next question: (This annotation contains a link)
So it is not just a random coincidence that Sonmi-451 starts to understand the larger world--someone on the outside is manipulating her. Predict who might be doing this and why they would want to use a fabricant in this manner.
What does the phrase "then in vogue" infer about Boom-Sook's eyes?
Note how brand names for some items have become the names for the items themselves--a clock becomes a rolex, all cars are fords. Think about some examples from our own time period--all tissue is Kleenex, a gelatin side dish is a Jello salad. What other examples of this genericization can you think of? (This annotation contains a link)
Use the Define feature as necessary to interpret Sonmi-451's observation here. Which of the following is the most accurate rewording of her advice?
Here the text is referencing George Orwell, best known for his novels 1984 and Animal Farm, and Aldous Huxley, best known for his dystopian novel A Brave New World.
Which of the following descriptions for Orwell's and Huxley's works also describes the world of Sonmi-451?
This collection represents 21 paintings by Mark Rothko, an American painter of Russian-Jewish descent. Do you agree with Boardman Mephi that "Rothko paints how the blind see"? (This annotation contains an image)
What an interesting observation this student makes. Similarities can definitely be drawn between the character of Sonmi-451 and Solomon Northrup from "12 Years a Slave." Watch the following clip of an interview with the actor Chiwetel Ejiofor who plays Northrup, paying particular attention to the discussion of theme at minute 4: (This annotation contains a video)
As you learned in the interview clip, Solomon Northrup was a free educated black man who was taken and sold into slavery. Comparing his experience and that of Sonmi-451, with which of the following themes would they both agree?
Which of the following requirements under the Townsend Plan is also found under the Enrichment Statutes?
The Enrichment Statutes definitely have some similarities with the Townsend Plan which was introduced in the 1930s. Read the first three paragraphs of "The Townsend Plan" before you answer the next question: (This annotation contains a link)
The Archivist describes the political system of Nea So Copros as a corpocracy, or a society where the interests of large corporations control economic and political decisions. Click on the following link to read the definitions of other existing political systems before you answer the next question: (This annotation contains a link)
While the Archivist assumes that their form of government (corpocracy) will last forever, we know this is not true. Which of the following political systems in existence today most closely corresponds with a corpocracy based on the linked text?
Chapter 6 - Sloosha's Crossin' An' EV'Rythin' After
You will note as you begin the central story of Cloud Atlas that the dystopian world of Sonmi-451 has met its end, and the world has been plunged backwards into a largely agrarian setting with little technology. You will also notice that the vocabulary of this narrative has taken a giant step backwards along with the technology. Continue to use context clues to decipher the definitions of unfamilar words.
Based on the highlighted passage, what literary device is the author making use of in this chapter?
Evidently the setting for Sloosha's Crossing is Hawaii in the far future, as some terms such as the Kohala Mountains and the Mookini exist today: (This annotation contains an image)
Something Smart indicates something with advanced technology that only the Prescients possess. If you're having trouble with the terminology, some of it is defined in the Cloud Atlas Phrasebook: (This annotation contains a link)
Somehow Sonmi-451 from the last story has become a goddess figure in the post-technology future. Based on details from this passage, which of the following is a religious belief held by this culture?
Mauna Kea is a dormant volcano on the island of Hawaii. It stands 10,000 meters above the sea floor. (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following details is the same in both the book and movie versions of the attack by the Kona?
The attack by the Kona is significantly different in the movie version than it was described before. Watch the following clip before you answer the next question. (This annotation contains a video)
Zachry has been struggling with internal conflict, sometimes known as man vs. himself. Read the following Slideshare on types of conflict to identify other types of conflict that you'll encounter in this chapter: (This annotation has embedded rich content)
Based on the Slideshare you read previously, what type of conflict has the author introduced in this passage to create tension?
With which of the following themes would Meronym most agree based on her conversation with Zachry?
Mauna Kea is also the location of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory. Apparently some of this observatory still exists in Zachry's time period. (This annotation contains an image)
Sonmi-451's life and elevation to goddess status have some similarities to that of Jesus Christ. Read the following brief history of the life of Jesus before answering the next question. (This annotation contains a link)
Based on Meronym's account of Sonmi and the brief history of Jesus, which of the following is NOT a similarity between the lives of Jesus and Sonmi?
Meronym uses symbolism in the folk tale she tells in order to relay a lesson to her listeners. Watch the following video to learn more about how authors use symbolism: (This annotation contains a video)
Based upon your reading about political systems in Sonmi's chapter, which of the following political systems is best illustrated by Zachry's description of the Honokaa?
Setting, or the time and place of the novel, shifts with each chapter of Cloud Atlas. For an informative map of the island of Hawaii with Ikat's Finger (and the rest of the settings for Sloosha's Crossin') indicated, proceed to the last section of this webpage. You may be interested in taking a look at the other settings from Cloud Atlas as well, especially since you'll be going back through all of them before the end of the novel! (This annotation contains a link)
Why does Meronym choose to travel through the Nine Valleys on the way to Ikat's Finger?
Since Zachry is relating this story as a flashback, what can the reader safely infer is Zachry's choice?
Meronym's observation indicates that sometimes you need to follow a course of action because it will yield benefits far in future, perhaps after you are long gone. Do you agree with this assessment? Have you ever done anything because you knew it would benefit someone in the future?
Which of the following adjectives best describes Meronym's response to the Kona guards? Feel free to use the Define feature if necessary.
Chapter 7 - An Orison of Sonmi∼451
Just to refresh your memory, we had left Sonmi-451 watching the movie about Timothy Cavendish when she and Hae-Joo were informed that they were being overrun by Unanimity forces. Even though Hae-Joo has lied to her, Sonmi really has no choice but to trust him in order to escape from Unanimity.
Read again the highlighted phrase. What detail from this page transforms the highlighted information into a play on words?
Note the author's choice of words to create setting in this passage. Words like 'warrenlike,' 'discreet,' and 'cryptic' give us the distinct impression that neither the people who visit here nor the ones who occupy these spaces want to be identified. What does this tell us about the facescaper that Hae-Joo and Sonmi are visiting?
What is the inference that Sonmi-451 is making with this statement?
The Archivist and Sonmi-451 have drifted into a debate on the ability of Unanimity to survive as a social structure. Who seems to have the better support for their argument?
While this is not the Buddha located at the Sobaeksan Mountains, these mountains are considered the home of Vairocana, the Buddha of Cosmic Light. (This annotation contains an image)
Advertising today has a lot in common with the corpocracy of Sonmi's story. Advertising is designed to make us dissatisfied with our lives and convince us that the things we want are actually the things we need. Which character from Cloud Atlas also had a discussion about the difference between wants and needs?
Sonmi is thinking, of course, about the unfortunate flight that Felix Finch takes from the balcony: (This annotation contains a video)
Using textual evidence, why do you infer that "the xec's curiosity died" when Hae-Joo introduces himself using his fake credentials?
Unfortunately, what the fabricants have been fooled into thinking is Xultation and retirement is, instead, exactly as Sonmi-451 described, as seen in the following clip from the film. In another eerie parallel, the recycling of fabricants for consumption is almost exactly the scenario described in Soylent Green, the movie Cavendish alluded to in his story. (This annotation contains a video)
Even though the character of the Archivist is only created through his dialogue with Sonmi, which of the following is NOT suggested by the Archivist's statements?
The film version of Sonmi-451's Declaration and capture are very different from the novel's version, as is her relationship with Hae-Joo. In fact, the core purpose of Sonmi-451 changes completely between the book and the movie: (This annotation contains a video)
So according to Sonmi-451, it was Unanimity and not the Union behind her ascension and Declaration. Which of the following Nazi theories best states why Unanimity would have used Sonmi in this fashion?
Cloud Atlas Quiz 2
Chapter 8 - The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish
Just as a reminder, when we last left Timothy Cavendish, he was eating peas when "a chain of firecrackers exploded in my skull and the old world came to an abrupt end." In addition, we met a variety of characters in a retirement home who will make a reappearance again. Watch the following video on static and dynamic characters to see if you can identify any of them in this story: (This annotation contains a video)
Based on author's word usage in this passage, which of the following would be an appropriate description of the driver of the Range Rover?
While Falstaff is a fictional Shakespearean character (usually described as quite fat and jolly), the reference to John of Gaunt is a play on words. John of Gaunt was one of the British nobility, but the term 'gaunt' also means lean and haggard, especially because of suffering, hunger, or age.
Leprosy is an infectious disease which causes skin lesions. In Biblical times, before a cure was discovered, lepers were forced to live apart from society in isolated leper colonies. Think about the implications of Ernie's comparison of the elderly to lepers. (This annotation contains an image)
So far in the story, what type of character has the author created in Nurse Noakes?
To "Mickey Finn" something means to lace it with drugs to incapacitate the recipient, named for a Chicago bar manager who was found guilty of using knockout drugs to rob his patrons. Do you think there could be drugs at Nurse Noakes' disposal which would actually mimic the effects of a stroke? Timothy doesn't seem to think so.
John Cage's "Sonata II for Prepared Piano" will give you an idea of the sounds Timothy awoke to: (This annotation contains a video)
Which is the most appropriate adjective for explaining how Cavendish must be feeling on learning that his letter would not free him from Aurora House?
To encourage Hotchkiss to drive out to Aurora House, Timothy appeals to his sense of
The inclusion of details such as the missing key, Withers' glare through the glass, the banging on the window and Timothy banging his head on the steering wheel are all meant to create which literary effect in the scene?
To what is Timothy referring with the highlighted statement?
Rip Van Winkle is a character from an American short story who falls asleep under a tree and awakens twenty years later. What connections can you make between Van Winkle and Timothy Cavendish? (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following is a detail which is NOT in the text version of the bar fight but is in the movie version?
This is one scene that the movie version gets almost exactly correct: (This annotation contains a video)
Chapter 9 - Half-Lives: The First Luisa Rey Mystery
Although these are the musings of a relatively minor character, this seems to be the central idea behind all of the stories of Cloud Atlas. You may want to jot down some notes about Sachs' ideas to think about as we make our way back through the rest of the Cloud Atlas stories.
Why would the divers be more interested in the Sixsmith Report than finding Luisa Rey or her car?
In case you are confused about who is who from the first Luisa Rey chapter, Joe Napier is an ex-cop who is now the head of security at Seaboard. Lloyd Hooks (below) was introduced as the Federal Power Commissioner, who we now know has ordered the elimination of Seaboard CEO Grimaldi, Isaac Sachs and Luisa so he can take over the company unchallenged. (This annotation contains an image)
Based on Isaac Sachs' previous observations about the past and the future, which of the following time periods is Javier discussing in his scenario?
Since this chapter is set on the West Coast, the woman is referencing Salem, OR, not Salem, MA. Wright's Gordon House is located just east of Salem, OR: (This annotation contains an image)
Based on context clues, which of the following definitions for the word retainer would be correct in this instance?
The map below will give you some idea of the location of Joe's cabin. (This annotation contains an image)
So what is it that Joe's dead wife has convinced him to do by "saying nothing"?
The author makes great use of imagery in the next passage to begin creating tension in this scene. We can tell from the details the author includes that Luisa may not be in a safe area of town. Watch the following video on tension, and then pay attention to other details the author uses to keep increasing the tension in this chapter: (This annotation contains a video)
Not too long before, Fay Li was observing that Smoke is really deep-down dumb. What reason does she give for thinking she is smarter than Smoke?
Just moments before, Luisa was asking herself, "What am I living through?" Just in case you got confused, she lived through a kidnapping, a bombing, a second attempted kidnapping, and now being chased by three more men after being rescued by Joe Napier!
Roughly, during the monkey wrench attack, the woman was yelling, "I loved that ___ing dog!" At the end, she says something similar to "Take care of yourself, honey. Go with riffraff and, my God, that old man could be your father!"
Luisa has a strong reaction to the Prophetess. With which chapter is the Prophetess connected?
Ralph Waldo Emerson was an American Transcendentalist poet. His poem "Brahma" embraces the immortality of the soul and the essence of everything in the universe being encompassed by the Hindu creator god Brahma. As you read the poem, think about how it reflects the themes in Cloud Atlas.
Chapter 10 - Letters from Zedelghem
Frobisher is referring to the Western Front of WWI, from which Europe was still trying to recover in 1931: (This annotation contains an image)
What is Frobisher's opinion about historical events?
It's clear that Frobisher's encounter with the pheasant creates a definite picture in the mind of the reader. Watch the following video on imagery and think about why the author goes into such detail in this scene and what the image of the pheasant might represent: (This annotation contains a video)
In some respects, Morty has correctly summarized the trajectory of Cloud Atlas. Eventually the world became so power hungry that it imploded and sent civilization back to the dark ages. Which story is best identified by Morty's quote, "Our will to power, our science . . . are the same faculties that'll snuff out Homo sapiens"?
The 366 steps to the top of the clock tower in Bruges would take more than a "scramble"! (This annotation contains an image)
When Frobisher describes Eva in the highlighted text, what form of literary device is he using?
Here Frobisher is referencing the Greek goddess Circe, who tempts Odysseus into her bed in order to free his men from her magic. (This annotation contains an image)
Which line in the last passage indicates that Frobisher realizes he has gone beyond bad behavior to illegal behavior?
As Frobisher alludes to the Cerberus when describing the butler, what can we infer is the butler's job (as determined from the video clip)?
Cerberus is another allusion to Greek mythology. Watch the following clip from Harry Potter which makes use of a cerberus before you answer the next question: (This annotation contains a video)
The closest Latin translation which could be found online is "There are tears of things." Like other characters in Cloud Atlas, Frobisher believes that the soul is reborn; however, he believes that the same events keep occurring over and over again.
Chapter 11 - The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing
Previously, Chapter One ended, "Sabbath not being observed on the Prophetess, this morning Henry and I decided to conduct a short Bible Reading in his cabin in the 'low-church' style of Ocean Bay's congregation, "astraddle" the forenoon and morning watches so both starboard and port shifts might . . ."
What is Adam inferring by using the simile that Cpt. Molyneux had a smile "as friendly as a cutpurse's"?
A smoking school is a unique idea. Why, according to Mr. Wagstaff, does such a school exist?
Here the author makes an allusion to Job, an Old Testament prophet who is tested when he loses everything (including his health) except his faith in God. Because of his steadfast faithfulness and recognition of God's unlimited power, he is rewarded with more riches than before. What difficulties are testing Mr. Wagstaff?
It's interesting that Preacher Horrox becomes indignant when Henry intimates that the only reason white races rule are because they kill other races. The Preacher previously told their visitors that the way they had achieved dominion over the island was by shooting the Natives who tried to keep them off the island!
In "Letters from Zedelghem," Morty theorizes that the world became so power hungry that it imploded and sent civilization back to the dark ages. According to Henry, what do the Aryans (or white race) love most?
So clearly, when Adam saw Boerhaave carry Rafael away the night before, it was not to "keep him out of harm's way" as Adam had supposed. This also answers the question of the topic that Rafael wished to discuss with Adam the night before.
What does the narrator use (particularly dealing with snakes) to convey to the audience that he believes Boerhaave to be purely evil?
In the end, what is the lesson that Adam Ewing learns?
The last scene of the movie version of Cloud Atlas does a nice job of connecting the theme through the multiple storylines: (This annotation contains a video)
Cloud Atlas Quiz 3