Study Guide

Nurse Noakes in Cloud Atlas

By David Mitchell

Nurse Noakes

The Noakes from the Black Lagoon

Nurse Noakes gives One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest's Nurse Ratched a run for her money. Noakes makes the nursing home experience as miserable as possible for anyone who doesn't regress into a vegetative state. First, she threatens to make Cavendish eat soap (a foreshadowing of Sonmi-451 and the rest of the fabricants being forced to do the same thing hundreds of years in the future). Then, after Cavendish has used the telephone in her office (that's against the rules), she drags him into a public shaming. Finally, Ernie Blacksmith suggests that she "Mickey Finn[ed]" (8.1.118) Cavendish's food, which caused his stroke. "Noakes" does rhyme with "strokes."

We have to wonder how accurate a portrayal Cavendish paints of Noakes. Now matter what, he would probably have hated Aurora House. He names Noakes in his Ghastly Ordeal because "she shall be named and shamed" (8.1.325). Sounds to us like a little revenge. Do you think she was as bad as Cavendish made her out to be?