Cloud Atlas

Cloud Atlas Summary and Analysis of The Orison of Sonmi-451 (Section Two)

The Archivist asks Sonmi-451: Then who was Hae-Joo Im, if he was not xactly who he said he was? (313).

“Union” ( 314) she replies, having already reached that conclusion back at the University while the disney of Timothy Cavendish played behind her. Despite Haw-Joo’s earlier deception about his identity, Sonmi-451 agrees to escape with him.

Fleeing to Mr. Chang’s waiting ford, she, Hae-Joo, and Xi-Li, his associate, pile into the vehicle. Once inside Hae-Joo and Xi-Li immediately remove the Soulrings implanted in their fingers. Suddenly “coltfire” erupts all around them and Xi-Li is hit. Hae-Joo kills Xi-Li out of mercy. Sonmi-451 realizes all traces of the carefree Hae-Joo are gone.

As the ford accelerates over an incline and free-falls toward the ground Sonmi-451 has the curious sensation of déjà vu. She feels that she has been trapped in another falling vehicle before but instead of hitting water their ford crashes into cluster of trees.

Bruised but unharmed Sonmi-451 and her companions run from the broken ford and into a concrete building. There she is taken down a man-hole and led past anxious Union members and into another ford. Hae-Joo drives them away, alone, promising to answer her questions later.

They drive to a slum on the outskirts of the city. Hae-Joo warns her to stay close to him; fabricants are often kidnapped in the area and are surgically altered and are made to work in brothels. A starving boy nearby laps at a puffle. He, like other migrants from surrounding outer areas, came to Neo So Corpos in the hope of a better life. Instead they found only poverty and disease. The poor serve as an incentive to the downstrata to work harder.

Sonmi-451 and Hae-Joo come to a reinforced door and meet Ma Arak Na, a Union member who gives them new identities and stolen Soulrings. Sonmi-451’s fabricant chip is also removed. Sonmi-451 learns Boardman Melphi has committed suicide and many other Union members have been compromised. Next they go to a “facescaper” or plastic surgeon and Sonmi-451 is given a new and less recognizable face.

Later the same day, they travel away from the city in a ford until they arrive at the HYDRA NURSERY CORP, a huge ark-shaped building with red-lite womb tanks filled with fabricant embryos. Sonmi-451 learns her own womb tank was located elsewhere but she is both intrigued and disturbed by the nature of her genesis. They spend the night in an unused office at the NURSERY. There, Sonmi-451 asks Hae-Joo why Union is interested in her wellbeing.

Hae-Joo responded that Union believes Neo So Corpos will fail. The lands and sea are poisoned by the corporations’ pollution. Even the air is toxic. Downstrata are dying from preventable diseases because they cannot afford medicine. The land used to produce obscene amounts of consumer goods has died is no longer inhabitable. Neo So Corpos was “sticking band-aids on hemorrhages” (325) and watching its people die.

If the downstrata were killed off their jobs would be replaced by fabricants, who cost little in overall expenditures from birth to death. Sonmi-451 describes fabricants as “perfect organic machinery” (325). They require little maintenance and only eat Soap. They die if they do not regularly consume Soap. Union believed they could bring about revolution for the downstrata by amassing an army of six mission fabricants. Union had already infiltrated the fabricant womb tanks, like the NURSERY Hae-Joo took Sonmi-451 to. They had already genetically modified certain fabricants’ DNA to enhance their intelligence and create sympathy for Union’s cause. Yoona-939 was the prototype for the gene modification. Sonmi-451 was the back up. Union intended to use Sonmi-451 as an ambassador, to show that fabricants are capable of self-motivated ascension.

The Archivist interrupts what he assumes is Union propaganda, and asks Sonmi-451 where she and Hae-Joo went after they left the NURSERY.

Traveling further into the country-side, Sonmi-451 and Hae-Joo came across a crossed-legged giant, carved into a mountainside. Hae-Joo explained, the giant was a lost deity who offered salvation from the tediousness of reincarnation. Sonmi-451 thought the seated statue looked like Timothy Cavendish.

Later the same day, they came across a desolate building, an old abbey, destroyed by Corpocracy after “pre-consumer” religions were outlawed during the Skirmishes.

The Archivist snidely remarks the old abbey appropriate for Somni-451, the Union’s messiah.

Sonmi-451 was introduced to an old woman, called the Abbess, who was naturally aged and walked across the courtyard with the aid of a mute child with many scars. Surprisingly the Abbess was one of a group of peasants who lived outside of consumerism. They survived repeated attacks over the year by Neo So Corpos through fortitude and cooperation. Their community lived off the land and powered their equipment with water turbines and other useful inventions. The Abbey was a Union safe haven and Sonmi-451 slept well for the first time since Papa Song’s.

They moved on the next morning. As they drove they came to a suspension bridge. Hae-Joo pulled over to relieve his bladder. An expensive ford pulled u and an upstrata couple exited the vehicle. Hae-Joo exchanged pleasantries with the husband until he brought a doll-sized fabricant from the ford. Sonmi-451 watched in horror as the man casually threw the living doll off the bridge, immune to its screams. The wife explained the doll was called ZiZi and it had been the most popular toy the previous year but their daughter wanted another doll now and the process of returning or euthanizing a fabricant was a waste of their time and money. Still sickened by the sight of the falling fabricant, Sonmi-451 departed with Hae-Joo.

Later the same day they arrived at Ch’oryang Square, a popular tourist site with attractions, including a freak show composed of a two-headed man and a real live ‘Merican. Comfort fabricants were stationed nearby ready to serve PimpCorp customers.

Hae-Joo had an apartment in the area and left Somni-451 there for the night while he attended a Union meeting. The next morning Hae-Joo introduced her to General Ankor Apis, leader of the rebellion. He asked Somni-451 to help assimilate fabricants into citizens. To help sway her decision, Hae-Joo took her to the nearby waterfront where vast vessels were docked. Somni-451 was surprised to see Papa Song’s Golden Ark and wondered if her Twelvestarred sisters were aboard.

A distracted guard let them into Papa Song’s Ark. Hae-Joo led Somni-451 to the lower levels and climbed onto an unseen walkway, high above those below. They watched hundreds of Twelvestarred Papa Song fabricants in paddocks, dressed in scarlet and gold, singing while waiting for their Xultation to Hawaii.

An aide arrived and escorted one of the fabricants to another room. Her sisters applauded as she left. Somni-451 assumed the fabricant was being led to a private cabin on the Ark as promised by Papa Song for all Twelvestarred sisters.

Hae-Joo showed Somni-451 to an adjacent room. Still unobserved on the walkway, they watched three aides help the fabricant sit on a plastic chair in the middle of the room. They attached a strange helmet which was suspended from the ceiling to the fabricant’s head. An aide told the smiling fabricant that the helmet would remove her collar. Just as Somni-451 realized the room had only one door, leading to the paddocks, a loud clack sounded and the fabricant slumped forward in her chair, dead.

The helmet lifted the corpse upward and conveyed it through a flap in the ceiling into another room, just as a different fabricant entered and sat in the plastic chair.

Somni-451 explains to the Archivist that she has no words for the emotions she felt seeing her sister killed in such a manner.

In shock, she followed Hae-Joo to a cavernous room filled with the cadavers of hundreds of Papa Song fabricants. Butchers cut off limbs, removed organs, and skinned the corpses. The remains were eventually drained of blood and ground into smaller portions.

The Archivist asks the purpose of “such carnage” (343).

Somni-451 tells the Archivist the bodies of the dead fabricants are a cheap source of much needed bio matter in Neo So Corpos. Fabricant remains are used as the primary protein in Soap. The liquefied remains are also used in fabricant womb tanks and most surprisingly in Papa Song food products.

Disgusted, the Archivist tells Sonmi-451 she must be mistaken. The Beloved Chairman would not allow the mass murder and consumption of fabricants.

“If fabricants weren’t paid for their labor in retirement communities, the whole pyramid would be… the foulest perfidy” (344).

Sonmi-451 challenged the Archivist, asking if he or anyone else has ever been to or seen a fabricant retirement community? Thousands of fabricants retire each year. Where do they go? Sonmi-451 tells the Archivist about the cycle of fear and power that exists in Neo So Corpos, where fear of the “other” turns to hatred, which turns to violence, resulting in the power or dominance of one group or individual over another.

The Archivist asks Sonmi-451 to continue her story. They are running out of time, Sonmi-451 is due to go to the Litehouse soon, to be executed.

After the slaughterhouse, Sonmi-451 and Hae-Joo return to his apartment and make love. Their sex is improvised as Sonmi-451 lacked sexual organs. She describes the sex as graceless but an act of the living. Later, she remarks that the Papa Song Ark was probably on its way to another port. Her thoughts contemplative, Sonmi-451 drank her Soap.

The next morning she told Hae-Joo she would help Union destroy the fabricant ships and the corporations that created them. In order to do so, Sonmi-451, the only ascended fabricant, must create a new set of Catechisms for the fabricants to follow in support of Union in their war against Neo So Corpos.

Sonmi-451 wrote a series of philosophical statements called “Declarations” over the course of a week. “My Declarations were germinated when Yoona-935 was executed, nurtured by Boom-Sook and Fang, strengthened by the tutelage of Mephi and the Abbess, birthed in Papa Song’s slaughtership” (347). She was arrested, as planned, the day she finished her “Declarations” by an overzealous group of enforcers.

The Archivist is shocked to hear this, questioning whether Sonmi-451 knew the enforcers were coming. Sonmi-451 had known the enforcers were on their way, Union made sure of that. She left the doors open in anticipation of them and looked forward to her arrest, referring to as the next stage of the theatrical production.

Stunned by her revelation, the Archivist asks if her confession was real or made of staged events and to what purpose?

Sonmi-451 admits that some of the events of her confession were exaggerated and the truth behind her involvement with Union was a fabrication. Sonmi-451 confesses that Neo So Corpos not only knew of Union activities but were behind them. Union was a façade, purebloods like Hae-Joo and Mephi worked for Neo So Corpos. They led a group of malcontent citizens, like Xi-Li, who believe a rebellion against the government was possible. Neo So Corpos created Union as their enemy to discredit true abolitionists and to enforce a continued mistrust of fabricants by upstrata by broadcasting Sonmi-451’s trial and using her as an example of what could happen should the fabricants be liberated. Her trial set off a chain reaction making sure both the upstrata and the downstrata maintained a deep mistrust of fabricants which created little resistance to stronger laws against fabricant rights, ensuring that fabricants remained enslaved.

Sonmi-451 points out the flaws in her story citing Wing-027, who was just as competent as she was, suggesting he too was ascended. The ZiZi doll’s convenient murder was added to her confession to emphasis the carelessness by which upstrata treat their fabricants.

The Archivists asks her why did she go along with Hae-Joo and Union if she suspected they were lying?

Sonmi-451 states, she believes her “Declarations” will inspire a successor. Someone who will use her experiences and knowledge as a guideline for their own revolution against corpocrasy. She relishes in the fact that Neo So Corpos has made the mistake of broadcasting her “Declarations” to the masses which only instigate hate and violence toward fabricants. Sonmi-451’s message, as a result, has reached billions of potential successors. Her role in the coming revolution may soon be over but her “Declarations” and the significance of her martyrdom will live on.

ISonmi-451 asks the Archivist to turn off the silver orison and to give her his sony so that she might see the rest of the disney “The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish” before she is to be taken to the Litehouse.

An Orison of Sonmi-451 Section Two Analysis

In an unforeseen role reversal, Sonmi-451 takes control from the Archivist and sets the tone for the second half of her orison, revealing the depths of corruption within Neo So Corpos. The reader and the Archivist are shocked to learn that Union was created by Neo So Corpos for citizens with anti-governmental leanings to have an outlet for their anger, directing it toward the fabricant abolitionist movement which the corporations wished to discredit. By making Union the enemy of the state, their central cause concerning fabricant rights, would destroy any real threat from true abolitionists like the Abbess and those who live outside of corpocracy. Their greatest mistake, of course, was underestimating Sonmi-451 and her understanding of the truth behind the façade of their society. The themes of deception and truth are abundantly clear in this section and Sonmi-451 successfully convinces the reader of her support of Union until she reveals their treachery. But did her revelation come too late and is Sonmi-451 a trustworthy narrator?

In retrospect Sonmi-451 laid the groundwork for her revelation with her carefully worded and perhaps too perfect rendering of her life history. Mr. Chang’s sudden rescue of her from Papa Song’s, Wing-027’s unexplained intelligence and death, and the murder of the ZiZi doll were all key points within a well crafted story set to illustrate the need for fabricant rights. The structure of the narration of Sonmi-451’s orison; however, does not add the depth needed to convey the importance of her message. Sonmi -451’s matter- of-fact tone and the author’s poor attempt at segwaying into the next section by having Sonmi-451 watch the film “The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish” before she is executed overrides the importance of her final message. The Archivist and the reader are left to consider the importance of truth in a society like Neo So Corpos which masks its many deceptions in layers of fabrications. Hence the term “fabricant.”

Is it no wonder then that the Archivist reacts negatively toward Sonmi-451 as she deconstructs the core of their society? She successfully demonstrates that the purebloods of Neo So Corpos are just as enslaved to their culture as the fabricants. The social structure of their society is so dependent on fabricant labor that when the poor of other territories migrate to Neo So Corpos they are bitterly disappointed to find that they are unwelcome and unneeded. The poor little boy who lapped at a puddle reinforces the social structure, prompting the downstrata (middle class) to work harder out of fear that they too will find themselves along the margins of society. Although a brief moment in the text, the poor boy’s circumstances illustrate a need for an advocate for the downtrodden, especially for the fabricants who have no political voice. The Archivist makes this point when he snidely calls Sonmi-451 a messiah of the fabricants, a prophetic word choice that neither he nor she would live to appreciate.

There are several notable references to religion within the second section of Sonmi-451’s narrative including the Archivist’s foreshadowing comment. The Abbey and its leader, the Abbess, are a society of caregivers much like their historical counterparts who took care of the physical and spiritual needs of their communities. To a society like Neo So Corpos, which does not tolerate anyone outside of the norm, would not tolerate the young boy with scars that walks with the Abbess to meet Sonmi-451 and Hae-Joo upon their arrival. Sonmi-451, an true outsider, felt at home at the Abbey, she was safe there and slept well for the first time since she left Papa Song’s.

Another example of the religious overtones in the text is the seated Buddha, described by Hae-Joo as a “lost deity” who helped the souls of the reincarnated reach nirvana which reminded Sonmi-451 of Timothy Cavendish. Her comment neatly reminds the reader of the spiritual connection between sections and would go on to foreshadow the beliefs of the Valleymen who worshiped Sonmi-451 as a God who helped reincarnated souls.

Reincarnation, the central theme of the text, is mentioned briefly in An Orison of Sonmi-451. Sonmi-451 has the comet-shaped birthmark which her fellow fabricants refer to as a “stain.” The birthmark is an anomaly and sets her apart from her peers at Papa Song’s but marks her as one of the shared souls within Cloud Atlas. Sonmi-451 experiences a moment of deja-vu when she is escaping with Hae-Joo from the University in Mr. Chang’s car. As the ford freefalls toward safety, Sonmi-451 remembers being in a similar circumstance in another life. The reader recognizes the similarity in circumstances between Luisa’s car accident in Half Lives and Sonmi-451’s experience in the ford.

Reincarnation is not mentioned again in this section but the influence of the characters in the other sections is very clear. Luisa’s story of uncovering the corruption at Seaboard Inc. was fictionalized and given to Timothy Cavendish to edit. While imprisoned in Aurora House, Cavendish reads Luisa’s story and perhaps finds inspiration in the main character’s zeal for exposing the crimes of Sixsmith’s killers. Similarly Cavendish feels compelled to reveal the vile conditions in which he was kept at the nursing home, exposing his captors to the world in his memoir and subsequent film which Sonmi-451 watches. As Sonmi-451’s story progresses, her own need to reveal the deceptions of Neo So Corpos and promote fabricant rights mirrors the tribulations of both Luisa and Cavendish’s storylines. Note the reoccurring use of the word “HYDRA” as it refers to both the HYDRA-Zero reactor and the HYDRA NURSERY CORP, where fabricants are born.

Unlike reincarnation which encourages the spirit to grow with each incarnation, the fabricant embryos of the HYDRA NURERY CORP are literally being nurtured by the remains of other fabricants. Consider too that the fabricants are clones, therefore they share identical physical makeup within their stemtypes and their development in uterodepends upon the deaths of their grown counterparts. The fabricant slaughterhouses are the lowest example of deception within An Orison of Sonmi-451 and both the reader and the Archivist are shocked by the cruelty displayed there. Not only are the fabricants murdered, dismembered, their remains liquefied to nurture the young of their race, they are led there believing they will reach Xultation and live the rest of their lives in peace. Instead they are butchered and made into Papa Song food products. As a contemporary reader, it is easy to draw similarities between the slaughter of livestock for fast food production at McDonald’s and the fate of the fabricants of Papa Song’s.

The blatant disregard for life of the corporations of Neo So Corpos inspires Sonmi-451 to write her own Catechisms which she calls Declarations. (Note the reoccurring religious references). The content of her Declarations are never specified in the text but their overall theme of the promotion of fabricant rights does not sit well with the authorizes of Neo So Corpos and Sonmi-451 is arrested and sentenced to die. Her message is broadcast to millions of viewers or as she terms them “potential successors” who may one day take up the true abolitionist cause and free the fabricants.