Study Guide

Giles Horrox, Preacher in Cloud Atlas

By David Mitchell

Giles Horrox, Preacher

That Other Carpenter/Savior

Giles Horrox is the preacher/mayor/dictator with a Jesus complex of Bethlehem Bay. His life's work is to convert the pagan savages to Christianity, with a little bit of capitalistic greed mixed in for good measure. His wife, the honorable Mrs. Horrox, brags about how Mr. Horrox "was trained as a carpenter. […] The pagan mind is impressed with material displays, you see. He thinks:—How spick & span are Christina's houses! How dirty our hovels!" (11.1.14). Adam Ewing is too polite to comment, but we're not above rolling our eyes until they almost fall out of their sockets.

As if that little bit of white superiority wasn't enough, when asked if the Indians work of their own free will, "[Mrs. Horrox] responds, 'Of course! […] If they succumb to sloth, they know the Guards of Christ will punish them for it'" (11.1.24). And there go our eyes, bouncing across the floor like a couple of rogue marbles. We hope she slips on them. Were people actually like this, or are these characters cartoonishly selfish?