Study Guide

Cloud Atlas Greed

By David Mitchell


Greed isn't anything new. It's as old as we humans are, it's one of the seven deadly sins, and it's a bad mamma-jamma, at that. Some say that greed is the stuff that all sins are made of. Cloud Atlas not only shows us how greed got from 19th-century seal clubbing to Gordon Gekko; it also paints a grim vision of the future. Scary thought: how different is the future presented in Cloud Atlas from what he have in the present?

Questions About Greed

  1. How does greed manifest itself in each of the six major narratives?
  2. In the world of Sonmi-451, the corporation is king. Do you think our world could end up like that? Why or why not?
  3. If greed is the Mother of All Sins, what other sins and themes in Cloud Atlas are caused by greed?
  4. Is Robert Frobisher greedy, or are his moneymaking schemes a necessity?

Chew on This

Alberto Grimaldi, Henry Goose, and even Timothy Cavendish show us that greed only benefits the greedy. When people are looking to make money, they don't care about anyone else.

Being a savage isn't about a "primitive" lifestyle, skin color, or a lack of cultureā€”it's about greed. Wanting what you want and wanting it now makes you no different from a cannibal (no offense to cannibals). The people who turn a blind eye to fabricants in Nea So Copros are no different from the white traders who ignored the Maori slaughter of the Moriori.