Study Guide

Cloud Atlas Prejudice

By David Mitchell


Although this isn't what Jane Austen intended, she was onto something when she paired Prejudice with the deadly sin of Pride. After all, people who are prejudiced against others are usually prideful when it comes to themselves, whether it be their race, their wealth, their sexual orientation, or whatever arbitrary symbol of worth they choose to define themselves.

There are all sorts of prejudice in Cloud Atlas. It's a prejudice smorgasbord. Sometimes people get away with it, but sometimes they don't. We have to admit that it's pretty sweet when karma comes back around and bites them in their prejudiced butts.

Questions About Prejudice

  1. Which of the six main characters hold prejudiced views? Do they change their minds by the end of their sections?
  2. What forms of prejudice are evident in Cloud Atlas (race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.)? Are there any forms of prejudice present in all six sections, or do the prevalent forms of prejudice change in each section?
  3. Timothy Cavendish seems to have something negative to say about everyone. Why is he prejudiced, and does he know that he is so prejudiced?

Chew on This

Adam Ewing is initially prejudiced against the darker island peoples because he doesn't understand their culture, and also because that's just the way things were at the time.

Prejudice is universal—no matter the culture or time period, there will be people discriminated against. Even the primitive Maori dislike the darker-skinned Moriori.