Study Guide

Cloud Atlas Part 11: The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing (Chapters 1-15)

By David Mitchell

Part 11: The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing (Chapters 1-15)

Chapter 1

  • This chapter picks up in the middle of the sentence where Part 1, Chapter 1 left off. Big news: "Land! A-hoyyyyyy!" (11.1.1).
  • The Prophetess drops anchor off shore of Bethlehem Bay, and Mr. Boerhaave, Captain Molyneux, Ewing, and Dr. Goose go ashore.
  • They meet up with Preacher Horrox, assure him of their holiness (through lying, of course), and convince him to use them to set up a profitable trade route with San Francisco. Yes, that's what missionary work needs—more capitalism.
  • While wandering around the settlement that afternoon, Ewing wonders why all the natives are smoking.
  • Well, it's simple. The whites needed the natives to work for them, but the natives had no use for money. So, "by instilling in the slothful so-an'-sos a gentle craving for this harmless leaf [tobacco], we give him an incentive to earn money" (11.1.42). We have no words.
  • Adam Ewing happily bebops on his way and enjoys a nice dinner.

Chapter 2: Monday, 9th December

  • After smoking school (yes, you read that right: smoking school; must be Marlboro College), Ewing goes for a stroll with Mr. Wagstaff.
  • Ewing does his best to keep out of Mr. and Mrs. Wagstaff's many domestic disputes.
  • At dinner, Ewing sits quietly while Preacher Horrox recites his Ladder of Civilization theory: "A glorious order […] when all races shall know & aye, embrace, their place in God's ladder of civilization" (11.2.30). And if a few tribes fall off the lower rungs, who cares?
  • Henry Goose backs up this sentiment by saying that mankind's "rapacity […] powers our Progress" (11.2.43). In case you're wondering, he seems to think this is a good thing.
  • The next day, everyone re-boards the Prophetess, and Ewing discovers that someone broke into his room aboard the ship. His trunk lock has almost been forced open.
  • Goose advises Ewing not to report it, because then any thief might try to rob him when his back is turned.

Chapter 3: Monday, 16th December

  • Ewing observes a hazing ritual as the Prophetess crosses the equator. Rafael and Bentnail are tied up, tarred, shaved, and dipped into a stinging barrel of saltwater. Ouchies.
  • "Cruelty has never made me smile" (11.3.6), says Ewing.

Chapter 4: Wednesday, 18th December

  • Ewing's headaches are getting worse, and Goose has upped his dosage of vermicide.
  • That afternoon, the crew hauls up a young shark they caught. Some believe that since "sharks are known to eat men, […] to eat shark flesh is cannibalism by proxy" (11.4.2). If we didn't know better, we'd say this is symbolism at work.

Chapter 5: Friday, 20th December

  • In this short entry, Ewing complains about the cockroaches that crawl on him as he sleeps.
  • Finbar tries to sell him a specially trained roach rat. Ewing says, "Later, doubtless, he will want to sell me a 'rat cat' to subdue the roach rat, then I will need a cat hound & who knows where it will all end?" (11.5.1). Another metaphor for eternal recurrence and reincarnation, anyone?

Chapter 6: Sunday, 22nd December

  • The crew watches a pod of humpback whales following the ship, but Ewing can't enjoy it, because his parasite is getting worse. "The color of monotony is blue" (11.6.3), he observes.

Chapter 7: Christmas Eve

  • Ewing is distraught. His finger is so swollen, Dr. Goose has to cut off his wedding band.
  • Dr. Goose holds onto it for safekeeping, saying they can get it repaired in Honolulu.

Chapter 8: Christmas Day

  • After dinner with the Captain, Ewing is approached by Rafael, who asks if God will let him into heaven if he says he's sorry. He doesn't say for what, though.
  • Ewing tells him, "[J]oy shall be in the heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety & nine just persons, which need no repentance" (11.8.3). So, yes.
  • Later, Ewing sees Rafael clutching the mast, passed out drunk.
  • Mr. Boerhaave appears and carries Rafael away. "To keep him out of harm's way, I trust," (11.8.6) says Ewing.

Chapter 9: Boxing Day

  • Rafael has hanged himself.
  • Ewing wonders if he should have seen it coming, and if he failed to stop it. He feels partly responsible for Rafael's death, especially since Rafael was the same age as Ewing's own son.

Chapter 10: Friday, 27th December

  • This comes as a surprise to no one except Ewing, but Boerhaave had been raping Rafael repeatedly.
  • Ewing demands an inquiry into the suicide, but Captain Molyneux won't have it.
  • The suicide continues to wrack Ewing's conscience. He worries that he gave Rafael permission to commit suicide during their last talk. He wishes he could go back and word things differently.

Chapter 11: Saturday, 28th December

  • Ewing is the sickest he's ever been. He eagerly awaits landing in Honolulu in three days.

Chapter 12: Sunday, 29th December

  • This is the shortest entry, only four words: "I fare most ill" (11.12.1).

Chapter 13: Monday, 30th December

  • "Death is hours away" (11.13.1), Ewing believes.
  • In this journal entry, he addresses his son. "Jackson, do not permit your profession to sunder you from loved ones" (11.13.2). But he doesn't get to say more before his handwriting devolves into illegibility.

Chapter 14: Sunday, 12th January

  • Again, this comes as a shock to no one except Ewing, but it is Goose's "cure" that has been making Ewing sick this whole time.
  • Goose mocks Ewing's hoarse whispers, steals the key to his trunk, and robs him. He's disappointed to discover that Ewing is actually quite poor.
  • The next thing Ewing remembers is Autua forcing saltwater down his throat to get him to vomit up the poison.
  • Autua takes Ewing off the Prophetess and into town, asking everyone for help. No one wants to help him because of his dark skin.
  • Finally he finds a nunnery that takes them in. In three days, Ewing has enough strength to sit up again. It is his 34th birthday. "I remain thankful to God for all his mercies" (11.14.20).

Chapter 15: Monday, 13th January

  • In this final letter, Ewing ruminates over everything he's seen over the last couple of months.
  • He decides that "one fine day, a purely predatory world shall consume itself" (11.15.7).
  • Also, believing that he owes his life to Autua, Ewing decides to devote himself to the Abolitionist cause.
  • In closing, Ewing imagines the haranguing he will get from his stepfather, who sees Abolitionism as a losing battle and a waste of time. He imagines the man saying to him, "As you gasp your dying breath shall you understand your life amounted to no more than on drop in a limitless ocean!" (11.15.12).
  • "Yet what is any ocean but a multitude of drops?" (11.15.12).
  • And this epic journey comes to a close.