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I have watched The Cloud Atlas many times, but still am completely perplexed as to why Sonmi is considered at all important to either the Union or Unanimity.

At one point her love interest mentions something about Free Will, but even if the other fabricant were designed without this I do not see how this would make her important to the Purebloods. Sure, she becomes some sort of philosopher, but she was not before, and why would they need one anyways.

Was her creation somehow tampered with by the union to create whatever was unique about her?

Note: It appears that the novel version of her story has her play a far lower key role, and does not portray her as some key piece in some underground resistance. This summary describes her uniqueness as being simply the only replicant that is capable of learning and remembering.

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Note: The tag "cloud-altas"is misspelled. But I do not have enough rep to make a new one. –  Jonathon Wisnoski May 4 '13 at 2:38

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It makes more sense if you look at the problem in a different way. The union are abolitionists, but with fabricants comes a unique issue. Are they capable of thinking their own thoughts, like a human, or is their very nature that of a slave, unable and unwilling to change?

According to the book (which i have literally just put down) purebloods had been experimenting with ways to make fabricants 'ascend' for their own scientific purposes for some time. Students in Sonmi-451's time were very lazy, however, and paid for their research to be rehashed. One of these lazy students, unwittingly ends up with one such 'ascended' fabricant, Sonmi 451.

To the Union, Sonmi 451 is a hugely powerful ally. Not only does she represent proof that fabricants are more than just slaves, but she wants to learn, is intelligent, and has a real thirst for life, which allows her to become the one person who can create a set of catechisms designed for fabricants who have ascended. The Union plan was to introduce huge amounts of the chemical agent - which allows fabricants to ascend - into the 'womb tanks' where they are created. Sonmi 451's catechisms are designed as a guide on how to live once ascended.

Sonmi 451 does not play a smaller role in the novel, but the circumstances were different. Her meeting with the Union was more chance, which the Union capitalised on, rather than the whole thing being a plan from the start.

We are never told whether the union plan works, whether it is responsible for the 'fall' (mentioned in Zachry's story) or whether it was abandoned. The book also contains no speech by Sonmi 451, or even a written version of her catechisms, although they may have been similar to that in the movie, i highly doubt it, as this story was modified to contain much more sentimental and emotional content for Hollywood purposes.

Hope this helps.

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Based on how the novel handles it, I think I am capable of making a guess. The Union view the fabricant system as some sort of slavery, and getting rid of this is their only/most important goal.

Theoretically, they modify Sonmi in some way to give her the ability to learn (they only mention "free will" in the film). Because, for some reason, they believe that only a fabricant should be able to philosophize about fabricant rights. They do not seem to show any of these fabricant rights in the film, but in the novel apparently her only major achievement is writing a fabricant bill of rights.

It does not really make any sense. The fabricant system has many similarities to modern animal husbandry, but no one would suggest that we would need to make a super intelligent cow to create a cow bill of rights.

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