Study Guide

The Archivist in Cloud Atlas

By David Mitchell

The Archivist

Recording Her-Story

The Archivist exists to give Sonmi someone to bounce her ideas off of. He doesn't even have a name, or much of a personality. He's just a nameless citizen of Unanimity. Occasionally, we do get a glimpse of prevailing Unanimity attitudes through his questions, like when he incredulously asks, "How could people there survive without franchises and gallerias" (7.1.137). This makes us want to smack our foreheads and say, really? As if we couldn't survive without McDonald's or Best Buy.

But we have to admit, we're not sure we could survive without some of the luxuries of modern life, like grocery stores, central heating, and Cinnabon. Does that make us just as pathetic as the Archivist, or is there a middle ground between now and the corpocracy of the future?