Study Guide

Other Seaboard Employees in Cloud Atlas

By David Mitchell

Other Seaboard Employees

Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?

Seaboard Corp. might as well be run by a den of snakes. There's not a single virtuous man on its board of directors. CEO Alberto Grimaldi is a power-hungry psychopath who loves manipulating the lives—and deaths—of those under him. And he thinks everyone is under him. This is the guy who defines "power" as "[t]he ability to determine another man's luck" (3.29.2).

Not much better is Lloyd Hooks, the Federal Power Commissioner, who manages to buy Bill Smoke out from under Grimaldi and blow up Grimaldi's plane, becoming the new CEO himself. The most heinous thing about Lloyd Hooks's involvement in this is that it shows that the cover-up conspiracy runs all the way to the federal government. President Ford's vow to "boot out crooks who bring ignominy to corporate America" (9.70.2) sounds a lot like someone protesting too much. We bet he knew all about it the whole time.

That leaves vice-CEO William Wiley. With a name like Wiley, we'd expect him to be the baddest of the bunch (chasing roadrunners off cliffs and such), but his crime is one of apathy and denial. Up until Luisa presents definitive proof against Seaboard, he accuses her of concocting a "libelous fantasy culled from a spy novel" (9.70.4). Once Seaboard starts going down, Wiley jumps ship and agrees to testify against them. He's a man who will switch sides just to be on the winning one.

Luisa tells us: "Seaboard Corporation is the tenth biggest corporation in the country. They could buy Alaska if they wanted" (3.21.23). That's a lot of money. With money comes power, and with power, as we know, comes great responsibility. When that kind of money is in the hands of bad people, bad things happen. It's as simple as that.