The Logistics of Reincarnation

Hints of reincarnation are strewn throughout Cloud Atlas. While David Mitchell has said that he didn’t intend for this to be a theme, it is nevertheless an intriguing concept to entertain. Also, the film adaptation of the book makes this theme much more apparent, to the point where it is interesting to consider, at least.

The most interesting hint that reincarnation exists is the comet-shaped birthmark that reappears on each of six main characters in the novel – Adam Ewing, Robert Frobisher, Luisa Rey, Timothy Cavendish, Sonmi-451 and Meronym (Zachry in the film). Each is a character central to his or her story, and each seems to share experiences – one of the most prominent is the idea of falling from a bridge in a car.

In the case of these six characters, it would seem that reincarnation works logistically. Each lives in a different time to the others. The only exceptions to this rule are Luisa Rey and Timothy Cavendish. Luisa Rey is in her early adulthood in the seventies, which makes her about the same age as Cavendish in 2012. If these two live concurrently, it would seem to refute the idea that the same soul has been reincarnated into both of them. However, the trauma of Frobisher’s suicide could, in theory, be enough to split the soul in two, which follows into Rey and Cavendish’s lives.

However, whether you choose to believe that a soul has been reincarnated into each of these six, or that it is meant to represent the static nature of genetics, the same idea arises. Across time and space, this soul, and the people around it, make the same mistakes and they are unable to halt the deterioration and eventual destruction of society and the world. What does this say, then about human nature? Does anything we do matter?

-Amanda Thompson

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~ by Amanda Thompson on March 3, 2014.

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