Study Guide

Villagers of the Nine Valleys in Cloud Atlas

By David Mitchell

Villagers of the Nine Valleys

If They Wore Shirts, They'd Be Red

Aside from Zachry and Meronym, we don't get to know the other villagers of the Nine Valleys all that much. They have goofy names (Rusty Volvo and F'kugly being two of the most unfortunate), and they live simple lives. We hesitate to call them primitive because they live far, far in the future. The future, though, is nothing like The Jetsons or even Battlestar Galactica. It's a lot like the turn of the millennium. The first millennium.

A few villagers play critical roles in Zachry's plot. When his sister Catkin falls ill, Zachry convinces Meronym to save her. And Truman Napes tells a chilling story about a relative who climbed Mauna Kea and returned with no soul. A guy named Lyons proves that betrayal is timeless when he joins the Kona and helps to kill and enslave all his former fellow tribesmen.

Tragically, all the villagers die in the Kona raid at the end of the section (even Lyons). Maybe that's why Zachry doesn't talk about them too much. The memory is too painful. It's made even more painful by the fact that they believe in reincarnation… but if all the people in their tribe die, how will they ever be reincarnated? It could be that they're dead forever, alive only in Zachry's story. Now that he is dead, it depends on Zachry's descendants to keep them alive.