Cloud Strife

Cloud Strife

Cloud is somewhat of a complex character for this analysis in that he starts off as a greedy mercenary only caring about his paycheck, but he later begins to develop some compassion for the planet. His complexity stems from the fact that the degree of his change is up to the player. He participates in the bombing of the Sector 1 Mako reactor (with Barret) and Sector 5 reactor (with Barret and Tifa.) Mako reactors drain Lifestream (the lifeblood of the planet), and turn it into electricity. They give some people easy lives, but are destroying the planet and its ecosystem. An optional environmentalist cause that can show Cloud has changed is the Fort Condor side quest. In this quest, Cloud and the other characters must command an army against a Shinra army for a strategic battle of an abandoned Mako reactor. The Shinra wish to restart the reactor so it can be operational, but AVALANCHE wants to stop them, for a condor has made its nest in the reactor, which the Shinra plan on killing. Nonetheless, certain quotes show a genuine concern for the planet, which are not optional:

(When the Shinra 26 Rocket is launched into outer space)
Cloud: Hey, Cid! What're you doing!? There are generations of knowledge and wisdom inside the Materia. We're gonna borrow their powers and save the planet from Sephiroth. There's no way that we can lose the Huge Materia. You understand that, right?

(After Safer Sephiroth is defeated)
Barret: Wait! What about Holy? What's gonna happen to the Planet?
Cloud: That... I don't know. Isn't the rest up to the Planet?
Tifa: ...You're right. We've done all that we could do.
Cloud: All right, everyone. It's no use thinking about it. We'll leave all our worries here. Let's go home proud.

The previous quote is one of many that shows Cloud (and Barret and Tifa) must have changed their minds after Cloud's "Reasons for Fighting" speech towards the end of Final Fantasy VII disc 2. Its ecological motives conflict with the "Reasons for Fighting" speech's emphasis on personal reasons (i.e. protecting someone close, revenge) as motives for fighting. Barret is worried about the planet, and while Cloud and Tifa are not worried, they think that they've done what they can, and that the planet is a power greater then they, so it will survive since they've done their part. My (somewhat conjectural) explanation for this is that when everyone entered the planet core, they felt the holiness of the Lifestream, which may have reawakened their desire to fight for the planet. It should also be noted that Cloud does not completely abandon fighting for the planet in his earlier speech, he just places a higher value on fighting for personal reasons.


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