Station Eleven Analysis

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Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel is a novel about humanity, specifically what can be seen as its death. After it has been ravaged by a monstrous flu that wiped out a loosely estimated “ninety-nine point nine nine percent” of the world’s population, the few people that are left live in isolated communities (Mandel 60). Despite being set in a ravaged, lackluster world, the novel still encompasses the essence of what it means to be fully human. The beginning of the novel is set at a live showing of the Shakespeare play King Lear. Shortly after the tragic events of the play unfold, which involve the lead actor’s death by heart attack, the man from which we see our initial perspective receives a phone call. His name is Jeevan, and he has…show more content…
After Jeevan talks to his friend, he buys several shopping cart loads of food and supplies, goes to his brother’s house, and decides to wait it out (Mandel 1-26). After these events unfold, there is a twenty-year time skip, and we get to see what the world is like after all this time has passed. Cue Kirsten Raymonde, the first main character of the novel after the skip. She is a twenty-eight-year-old woman who first appeared at the beginning of the book as a child actress in the first scene of the novel, the play of King Lear. Despite living through the tragedy of the epidemic, known by the survivors as the Georgia Flu, she maintains a strong connection to the things that she perceives makes her who she is. Through acting, something she is very passionate about, Kirsten maintains her humanity in a world that could easily take that away. To be fully human in a setting like this requires a strong connection to inner expression, and Kirsten manages to accomplish this connection wholly through her acting and her fierce connection to the past—despite the challenges she faces in a near empty…show more content…
These comics, titled Dr. Eleven, are deeply precious to Kirsten after the collapse of society. She holds onto them very tightly, and this sense of connection extends to anything remotely about Arthur Leander as well (Mandel 42). She collects pictures of him, desperately holding on to the memories she has that took place before the pandemic. These memories that she clings to help define the emotional connection she has to the past. She keeps these memories so close because, if she were to let them go, then that would mean leaving the old world behind. That would mean abandoning her art, her passion of acting, and reducing her to less than she should be. Because if she were to give up on the past, then she would have to give up on acting, because, ultimately, it is an art from the past. She would be like the empty shells of people that are left alive in the towns her group travels through, just barely getting by, surviving on whatever they can, and therefore this is why the Travelling Symphony exists, essentially. It is there to make sure that, no matter what, these people who are essentially no longer human on an emotional level, can still experience “what was best” about the old world, and the wonders that it held (Mandel
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