In Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, Part 4 stood out to me in a very emotional type of way. It’s amazing what the group have been doing so far to continue surviving and moving on with the chaos that surrounds them.
In the first page of chapter 19, The symphony is discussing their motto, “All I’m saying,” Dieter said, twelve hours out of St. Deborah by the Water, “is that quote on the lead caravan would be way more profound if we hadn’t lifted it from Star Trek.” He was walking near Kirsten and August. “Survival is insufficient” Kirsten had had these words tattooed on her left forearm at the age of fifteen and had been arguing with Dieter about it almost ever since. Dieter harbored strong anti-tattoo sentiments. He said he’d seen a man die of an infected tattoo once. Kirsten also had two black knives tattooed on the back of her right wrist, but these were less troubling to Dieter, being much smaller and inked to mark specific events. “Yes,” Kirsten said, “I’m aware of your opinion on the subject, but it remains my favorite line of text in the world.” She considered Dieter one of her dearest friends. The tattoo argument had lost all of its stings over the years and had become something like a familiar room where they met.” (Page 119) I saw this type of communication as a form of escape from their actual reality. Kirsten and Dieter are using the subject of whether their motto is fine art or low art to help them survive their constant fear of being followed. In other words, this type of argument is their type of a distraction. Although this seems to be something that happens consistently, Kirsten is already aware of Dieters motives whenever he mentions what value their motto could or should have had, she will always cherish it and will always go along with this debate not only to help keep him calm but, to keep her mind steady as well.
In chapter 19 we also meet a new character, Eleanor. She’s a twelve-year-old girl who ran away from The Prophet, mainly because she was promised to marry him and both of her parents are already dead. Although she also has a hurtful past now, The symphony is at more risk due to finding and being with the young girl who was supposed to be the next wife of The Prophet. But, they accept these risks and do not push her away. “What to do with Eleanor? They knew they risked accusations of kidnapping and they had long adhered to a strict policy of non-intervention in the politics of the towns through which they passed, but no one could imagine delivering a child bride back to the prophet. Had a grave marker with her name on it already been driven into the earth? Would a grave be dug if she returned?”(Page 124)
In chapter 20, Kirsten, August, Jackson and The Viola go to a school that was found not too far from where they’re now camping in search for supplies. While some notes were found all around the school, Jackson found a skeleton with signs that it was shot in the head. “Jackson appeared in the doorway. “There’s a skeleton in the men’s room.” August frowned. “How old?” “Old. A bullet hole in the skull.” “Why would you look in the bathroom?” “I was hoping for soap.” August nodded and disappeared down the hall. “What’s he doing?” Viola asked. “He likes to say a prayer for the dead.” Kirsten was crouched on the floor, poking through the debris with a broken ruler. “Help me check the lockers before we go…….August emerged from the men’s room it was a relief to walk out into the sunlight, the breeze, and the chatter of crickets.”(Page 129) The reality of surviving in such conditions is coming face to face with dead bodies on a daily basis. It was great to see that although the world has ended for the survivors who lost everything, August still has faith in religion, he shows it by praying for the dead bodies they come across. In my opinion, this helps to keep him sane, and also helps him manage to sleep at night without having nightmares.
“We stand it because we were younger than you were when everything ended, Kirsten thought, but not young enough to remember nothing at all. Because there isn’t much time left because all the roofs are collapsing now and soon none of the old buildings will be safe. Because we are always looking for the former world, before all the traces of the former world are gone. But it seemed like too much to explain all this, so she shrugged instead of answering him.”(Chapter 20, page 130) This quote shows that one should not only reminisce the past but, to cherish and protect it. This specifically relates to Kirsten, because she is constantly looking for any information that relates to her personal history.