Part 1 of Station Eleven provides an introductory backdrop to the story, set in modern day Toronto. Author Emily St. John Mandel describes the world as it were before the cataclysmic event happens. The author also introduces and fleshes out the main protagonist of the story, Jeevan Chaudhary, and establishes his relationships with his friends and family namely his girlfriend Laura, his close friend named Hua, and his brother Frank.
Part 1 of Station Eleven begins with Jeevan and his girlfriend Laura watching a theater performance of Shakespeare’s King Lear in the Elgin Theatre of Toronto (Mandel, 3). The actor playing King Lear, Arthur Leander, faints in the middle of his performance on stage (Mandel, 3), and Jeevan, who was training to be an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician), jumps onto the stage to try and help resuscitate the actor (Mandel, 4). I believe this establishes Jeevan’s competency in medical care, as well as his strong sense of duty in helping others. However, Jeevan and another doctor on the scene fails to revive the actor, and Arthur Leander is declared dead by the ambulance crew. There is a part that I found particularly interesting, where Jeevan converses with a child actor, Kirsten Raymonde, who had witnessed Arthur’s collapse and subsequent death (Mandel, 6). I thought it was very strange how Jeevan had interacted with the girl, trying to comfort her while she was watching another man die in front of her (Mandel, 7). I think this establishes Jeevan’s awkwardness interacting with children as well as his unfamiliarity with consoling distressed people. It also establishes Jeevan’s pessimistic personality, as he had no confidence in Arthur’s survival (“He’s going to die, isn’t he?” [Kirsten] was breathing in little sobs. “I don’t know.” [Jeevan] wanted to say something assuring, but he had to concede that it didn’t look good (Mandel, 7)), and being doubtful that he would find Kirsten’s guardian ( “Come on,” he said, “let’s find Tanya. She’s probably looking for you.” This seemed doubtful. If Tanya were looking for her charge, surely she would have found her by now (Mandel, 7)). Jeevan would later learn that his girlfriend Laura had abandoned him at the theater and went home by herself: “she’d left him onstage performing CPR on a dead actor and gone home, and now she wanted him to buy milk” (Mandel, 12). This is very revealing, as it introduces Jeevan and Laura’s complicated love life.
Jeevan would later receive a series of phone calls from his close friend Hua, who is a doctor working at a hospital (Mandel, 17). Jeevan would learn of an epidemic of an out-of-control deadly illness that is called “Georgian Flu” (Mandel, 17), which originates in the Eastern European country of Georgia. Hua is in a panic, and describes to Jeevan how quickly the Georgian Flu has spread, and how it is killing many patients under his care (Mandel, 18-19). Jeevan is revealed to have paranoid tendencies, and believes in his friend Hua. Jeevan calls his girlfriend Laura and tries to warn her of the epidemic but Laura is flippant and ignoring Jeevan’s sense of urgency (Mandel, 23-25). I think this further cements Jeevan’s strained relationship with Laura, proving that they may be estranged and/or do not like each other very much. The last chapter of Part 1 details what the people of the world would no longer have or enjoy, after the cataclysmic event of what I assume is a worldwide Georgian Flu pandemic.