Study Guide

Ernie Blacksmith and Veronica Costello in Cloud Atlas

By David Mitchell

Ernie Blacksmith and Veronica Costello

No Country for Old Men

Timothy Cavendish is a man who seems accustomed to getting what he wants. However, when what he wants is outside of Aurora House, his usual tricks aren't going to cut it. Enter Ernie Blacksmith and Veronica Costello, who concoct a plan to bust them all out of the big house.

Blacksmith, with a name that evokes strength and bending steel, has a mind like a steel trap, despite his advanced age. He tells Cavendish: "Amateurs talk strategy, professionals talk logistics. [...] Without logistics, where are you? Belly-up is where, and in the back of Withers's van five minutes later" (8.1.35)—or, as Cavendish has, learned, belly down (and pants down) in Withers's lap. Without this plan, Cavendish would never be able to break the steel bars of Aurora House on his own.

Veronica Costello, with a name that evokes a 1920s Hollywood starlet, is the spokesperson of the group. Her main job in the book is to give a voice to why being old really, really stinks. We've put all her best quotes on the "Themes" page under "Old Age," so go check 'em out. Don't take too long, though; your youthful good looks won't last forever.