In the world of Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel we have been introduced to time before civilization fell and even to the time before it. In the novel a motto was stated early on that “Because survival is insufficient” (Mandel, 58). The meaning behind this motto is that there must be purpose in life, that just simply surviving and living by the day without goals, hopes, and dreams is not enough to satisfy ones self. Much like the Traveling Symphony that wear this quote on their lead caravan and in their hearts. They don’t just survive, they live valuing what was once good in the world, the old world, and share those values with other survivors in different towns. Much like Clark who had miraculously survived the Goergia Flu and found safe haven in an airport in Severn city where he stayed for two decades. What he lived for beyond just survival was to put the old world on display for those who come from that old world to appreciate what they once had, and for those of no memories of the old world or those that were born in the new world to learn about these past useful tools and possessions. What he had was a museum of Civilization. ” Clark had always been fond of beautiful objects and in his present state of mind, all objects were beautiful. He stood by the case and found himself moved by every object he saw there, by the human enterprise each object had required.” (Mandel, 255). This was his life now it seems to bring him much joy just collecting things but even if its just for him this can also serve the purpose of teaching the youth with hopes of one day mankind can replicate the technological advancement or even beyond that. Even back in the Old World he found himself staring at a bunch of “Sleep walkers” The people that do nothing but stare at their devices all day just getting through life. This problem of living with meaning was existent even before the New World.
Another man with goals was the Prophet. We find out that the Prophet is Arthur and Elizabeth’s son. He grew up in the new world reading texts of revelation, surrounded by faith worshipers of the new world and the new heaven. The Prophet’s goal was to bring light to the world as he utters the words with his men “the fallen walk among us. We must be the light. We are the light.”(Mandel, 291). This light he refers to is only his own belief of what was right and what was wrong. He was only 8 years old when the world fell apart only paying attention to a handheld device like most kids his age in our era do. He did not know that what he was doing was wrong. His light came with suffering, taking towns and taking women for himself and his worshipers. They wanted to repopulate the world. Actually in my opinion he was not wrong with wanting to repopulate the world it was just how he came about it that was so wrong. Even though the Prophet did a lot of wrong he was not simply surviving, he was working towards a goal so great that he can smile at the face of the enemies that he kills and blackmails.
At last our main protagonist Kirsten meets Clark for the first time and he shows her something that would probably change the new world. Miles down south of the airport the stars are dimmed. “In the distance, pinpricks of light arranged into a grid. There, plainly visible on the side of a hill some miles distant: a town, or a village, whose streets were lit up with electricity.” (Mandel, 311). I absolutely lost it when i read this part because i knew what it meant and I immediately thought about the motto “Because survival is insufficient”. Whoever generated the electricity in that town or village not only survived but had a goal to bring light to world so dark and full of despair. The world was so lucky to have a man or woman or even a group of engineers who know about electricity to come in and have electricity surge back into circuits. What could have came about if they died? How many things could have happened if people did not die? How many things could have been achieved if they did not die? These are the things i asked myself as I finished the novel, of course some people deserved to die like the people who tried to attack the Traveling Symphony in their early years when Kirsten joined, or like the Prophet who brought nothing but more despair. I believe that it is important to keep on living with good intentions and that is when you will meet true satisfaction with yourself.