What is an analysis of Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell?

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David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas is a story written from the point of view of six different characters. This story transports readers through a variety of multiple times and stories that are all related in some way. The connections are not always easy to recognize and may be small connections, such as a birthmark.

Overall, the novel Cloud Atlas is a story about human connectedness. The setting of this story adds to the connectedness because of the fact that all the settings are real places that readers could visit. The narrators in this story also add to this connectedness because there are six different narrators who all have different points of view. Not one of the narrators is a reliable source, which also makes the story more realistic. Each character provides an opportunity for the reader to find a connection with an individual and makes the story timeless.

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In Cloud Atlas, the author takes the reader on a literary journey through multiple dimensions and times. David Mitchell presents a set of six distinct but interrelated stories, tenuously connected by theme, narrative, and character. Each story in some way informs the next. The impression left by the previous story may be a physical marker, such as the comet-shaped birthmark—but often it is neither obvious nor direct. Rather, it is nebulous or cloudy.

The metaphoric clouds may refer to mental and physical conditions. These include Adam Ewing’s state while being poisoned, the visual disability that keeps Vyvyan Ayrs from perceiving Robert Frobisher’s deceptions, and the memory-wiping effects of the Soap that the fabricants eat. In the latter part of the novel, the role of the holographs becomes more important, suggesting that projections, another sort of cloud, may be considered more “real” than living peoples or material objects. While many readers have enjoyed the complex interactions and partial connections among the tales, others find the author’s intentions frustratingly obscure.

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