As I finished part 2 and 3 of the novel Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel my heart was beating a little fast. I have so many questions I don’t know where to start. On page 2 it states, “Of all of them there at the bar that night, the bartender was the one who survived the longest. He died three weeks later on the road out of the city.” After reading this I was so confused, the setting of this novel is all over the place in opinion so after reading that it went back to Jeevan walking in the park and I was a little lost. So far in the book Jeevan seems like an innocent soul. He doesn’t have much friends, doesn’t have a lot of family and he’s just getting his life together. From the readings it’s obvious that Jeevan was sad about the death of Arthur but he was proud in the actions he took and wanted it to be known, hence when he was about to tell his long time friend Hua about what happened at the theater. Everything was going smooth as butter (besides the fact that the whole night flipped upside down) until Hua told Jeevan about the Georgia Flu outbreak. At first, like the cashier at the grocery store where Jeevan cashed out in when Hua was informing Jeevan about the outbreak I didn’t think about it as much, that’s not really something strange to hear, we had the outbreak of swine flu, Ebola, and others so reading through the dialogue was nothing until you read more into the book when Hua calls Jeevan again for the third time and tells him to leave the city with his brother and Laura. When he started going into details about how many people were in the ER and how many people died (Thirty-seven patients were dead including every patient who had been on the Moscow flight and two ER nurses who’d been on duty when the first patients came in)my heart started picking up speed. My first thought that came to mind was an apocalypse . I’ve watched too many movies where a sickness broke out and it ended up killing thousands of people, World War Z, Quarantine, Quarantine Terminal 2, The Walking Dead, Shaun of the Dead, etc. Jeevan had the right mindset of going to the grocery store and leaving with seven carts full of food just in case of a crazy outbreak. But as in reality, the news minimized the situation to keep the citizens calm in time to find out what’s happening but Jeevan was not playing at all. I could only imagine how Jeevan felt this night, he gets tickets for him and his significant other to watch a play and during the play the lead role dies on stage, which is where Jeevan jumps into action and tries to save his life, then his girlfriend Laura ;eave him there through all the chaos , and now his friend is telling him that he needs to take his things and the people he love and get out., and what makes it worse is as he is telling Laura to leave the city because of the flu outbreak she is on the other end of the phone being real calm and not listening to the instructions Jeevan was telling her to do, “because she doesn’t like watching the news before bed.” (3) I don’t know much about Laura but I can tell I already don’t like her, especially not for Jeevan. To makes matter worse, Jeevan brother Frank is in a wheelchair so he wouldn’t be able to travel a far distance with him through the snowstorm and on top of that he left the grocery store with not one cart but seven carts full of necessities he thought he would need just in case he had to be inside for a while ( an apocalypse in my opinion) , had to push all seven carts in the snow to his brothers apartment , which he lived on the twenty-second floor. Jeevan is having a very long day. Now going back the beginning where I quoted page 2, when the narrator said “Of all of them there at the bar that night, the bartender was the one who survived the longest. ” I think he meant that they died from the flu . I think the narrator gave us a hint on what is going to happen throughout the book and I think the whole city is going to be affected by the flu and Jeevan might be the only one that survives. I thought this novel was going to be boring but I can’t wait to find out more details.
Having read through the latest sections of Emily Mandel’s Station Eleven, it makes me wonder how groups effect people and how they act when put in a similar situation to the other characters in the world. With everything in the world which has pretty much regressed back to how life was like in the past when using horse drawn carriages was modern at the time and where groups travel together as a caravan. I believe that the groups that people associate with effect how people act in the long run
The first group that we are introduced to is the Symphony which honestly feels more like a family than a group of random strangers that were just put together as performers. You have the friendship between Kirsten and August where they work together as mentioned in the line ” …. August and Kristen even though they’d only been close friends and had in fact made a secret pact to this effect – friends forever and nothing else – ” (47). The group has its own problems but even though they’ve been through getting shot at, two of the members splitting off because of a child, fighting between the group; they always stuck together
The second group that we are introduced to in the second section of the novel is the community that is in St. Deborah. Reading through section two of the novel, St Deborah kind of remind me of the short story “The One’s Who Walk Away from Omelas” by Ursula K. Le Guin. In a sense that instead of a child suffering it was the entire world. Whenever the prophet had something to say or something to do everyone in the group quiet. In the line “In the back row, another man whom she’d noticed earlier …. stepped forward and raised his hands over his head as he passed through the front row. Thr applause faded” (59) whenever which remind me of how the parents in Omelas. The citizens of Omelas always talked about how the child must remain in for the people of Omelas to be happy and those that represent the child in the novel are the people that in the community that survived the flu. The prophet much like the citizens of Omelas are a big influence on members of their group / community.
Being in a group their ideas tend to influence the people that are in the group so that they can remain in the group and be supported by the group members. Even in video games where you don’t actually see the person that your playing with in person, you band together to achieve a common goal in whatever you are doing. When it comes to the group in st. Deborah everyone in the group is “lead” by the prophet and anyone that didn’t go along with what the prophet said left the town. Even through personal experience I have been part of a group that was very toxic which I didn’t even notice it was effecting me until a friend of mine mentioned it. The group we were in always talked poorly on those that did what they could not whenever they failed and how they were always the group that never cheated for success while still not having succeeded once. Groups play a pretty large role when it comes to how it influences our decisions in life whether we notice it or not.
Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven continues to unravel revelations in an intertwined relationship between the past, present, and future. Part two focuses on explorations and experiences of a group of actors and musicians in the years following the outbreak of the Georgia Flu. Part three reveals the background of Arthur Leander and his first wife, Miranda, years prior to the flu pandemic.
Part 2: A Midsummer Night’s Dream is named after the Shakespearean play that the Traveling Symphony performs in a town called St. Deborah by the Water. The Symphony is the closest resemblance to a family in the post-collapse world. “… this collection of petty jealousies, neuroses, undiagnosed PTSD cases, and simmering resentments lived together, traveled together, rehearsed together, performed together 365 days of the year, permanent company, permanent tour. But what made it bearable were the friendships, of course, the camaraderie and the music and the Shakespeare, the moments of transcendent beauty and joy…” (47). They travel to towns in their territory, using music and theatrical plays to give hope and remind people of civilization’s past before the collapse. The Symphony will come to realize that a lot can happen in two years. The last time the Symphony was in St. Deborah by the Water, two of their members, Charlie and the sixth guitar (Jeremy), were left behind because Charlie was pregnant. When the group returns, the town’s inhabitants are less receptive towards them. To make matters worse, Charlie and the sixth guitar are nowhere to be found. What is found are grave markers of them and others. After the Symphony performs the play, a prophet makes his influence on the town’s people known. He’s a religious fanatic who considers the flu epidemic to be his people’s salvation. The prophet’s also responsible for the grave markers. “‘When the fallen slink away without permission,’ he said, ‘we hold funerals for them and erect markers in the graveyard, because to us they are dead.'” (62). Calling the prophet and his people “a doomsday cult” (62), the Symphony’s conductor decides that the group quickly leaves the town and search for Charlie and Jeremy elsewhere.
Sometimes, the key to present and future occurrences lies in the past. Part 3 unveils the past of Arthur Leander and the first of his three wives, Miranda. Arthur drops out of college to pursue a career as an actor. At first, he achieves little success from small roles given to him. But Arthur becomes very popular once he’s in Hollywood. He gets with Miranda after his mother suggests that he takes her out for lunch. Miranda’s an artist who works at a shipping company. She has a boyfriend named Pablo who doesn’t do right by her. He fights with her and makes her life difficult. In order to keep calm, Miranda creates a comic book with the same title as the novel itself. Although Station Eleven eases her mental pain, it can’t bring her physical comfort from Pablo. Eventually, she decides to be with Arthur. Miranda marries Arthur, only to realize that on their third anniversary, he’s having an affair with his future second wife. By then, Arthur’s fame truly precedes and overwhelms him. He’s a different person from who he once was to Miranda and his best friend, Clark.
I believe that the dog, Luli, and the paperweight are motifs as they reappear throughout the story. I don’t know about the dog, but I know that the paperweight represents something. I just don’t know what it is.
I believe that while Miranda’s Station Eleven is her creative imagination drawn on paper, it also reflects her reality. The comic book’s protagonist, Dr. Eleven, represents Miranda. Station Eleven represents an alternate, futuristic version of Earth, at least according to Miranda’s imagination. Imagination becomes perception as Dr. Eleven’s conflicts reflect the hardships and loneliness that Miranda feels. The fact that the comic’s main character is a guy presents the “what if” possibility. It has to do with the issue of gender. How different would things be for Miranda if she was a man? Her comic book allows Miranda to be a male character that possesses her perspective. It reflects her feelings and also explores an array of possibilities that don’t come to fruition in her life.
It seems that Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven transcends time. I am quite pleased to see that my prediction about time from my last post has proven correct so far. The question of, how much could things change between then and now? is recurring throughout parts two and three of the novel. It is interesting to think about how far society falls within 20 years, but it is just as fascinating to think about change across time in general. Change in people, thoughts, and society in Station Eleven seems to reflect off of each other. One of the most crucial parts of Mandel’s Station Eleven is the change over time, change is consistently a focal point throughout the chapters and it’s presence is indispensable to the plot in the story.
One of the most telling lines in part three in regards to time is “Arthur wasn’t having dinner with a friend […] so much as having dinner with an audience. He felt sick with disgust. […] Thinking about the terrible gulf of years between eighteen and fifty.” (p.112) These lines are so incredibly compelling because they remind us that conflict isn’t always derived from things greater than us but that it can from places within ourselves so visceral that logic feels alien. Here, Clark is summarizing the five chapters worth of change that Arthur goes through, from someone embarrassed by fame to someone performing his life for strangers. There was a change in substance within Arthur throughout 33 years that was a catalyst for many things in the novel, such as the Station Eleven comic book, which was revealed to be from Arthur’s ex-wife Miranda, and the beautiful paperweight from Arthur’s his longtime friend Clark, both objects now under the possession of Kirsten.
It seems that love lives on after the apocalypse. It is a little funny to see that amid the danger of a post-apocalyptic world, there is still room for drama. It seems almost ridiculous but it is true to life, we would never let ourselves become bored with life and much less succumb to it. In part two we find out the Kirsten cheated on Sayid with someone she happened to meet “more or less out of boredom”(p.45) and the drama generated from this was enough to tease her about. This seems like a direct reflection to how Arthur leaves Miranda for Elizabeth. It feels like the parallels between Arthur and Kirsten could go farther, and this leads to thoughts about whether Kirsten could have a similar death to Arthur’s, especially after the exchange between Jeevan and a young Kirsten in part 1, “‘…if acting was the last thing he ever did […] then the last thing he ever did was something that made him happy.’ ‘It’s the thing I love most in the world too, […] acting.'”(p.8-9)
Though these bits are important in terms of characterizing change within Arthur and Kirsten, I believe the most important display of change within parts two and three is the interview in the last chapter of part three. “The more we know about the former world, the better we’ll understand what happened when it fell. […] I believe in understanding history.”(p.114-115) It is crucial to understand history if something new is to progress and grow, change in society requires an understanding of the past so as not to commit the same mistakes. The world is Station Eleven is subject to this constantly and we see it reflected in the town of St. Deborah by the Water when the prophet asks for 15 year old Alexandra to be left behind as his bride. Small towns are just small societies, politics didn’t die with the victims of the Georgia flu, if the survivors can manage to learn from the past then humanity has a greater chance at survival.
Overall, parts two and three give us a bigger sense of change in both the past and the present. The novel is told through narratives of the most relevant people in the story, this clues us in as to who to pay attention to more because their story and point of view is given more presence over another. Everything is intertwined and if we can understand the past and connect it to the present then the space between then and now becomes clearer.
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel Parts 2-3
While reading this book I cant’ help but get the feeling of religious undertones. Take for example the word “Prophet” appears on page 51 seems to indicate that there is a new Messiah which makes me wonder if Arthur is a form of a Messiah? When I think about part 1 which is called “The Theater” Shortly after Arthur dies we see that Jeevan gets phone calls from his friend telling him about the Georgia Flu and then on (31) we find out that there ” No more flight…..No more countries…No more certainty of surviving a scratch on one’s hand…”
Arthur death is similar to the biblical death of Jesus Christ and shortly after his death a “Darkness came over all the land.” Matt. 27:25 From noon on Friday until 3 pm, the skies grew dark. ” and “The earth shook and the rocks split.” Matt. 27:51. A huge earthquake shook the land right at the very time Christ died.” ( qtd. in McDaniel). In Arthur death there was a flu epidemic that was the “Darkness” that came over the land. Arthur was acting as the king in the “King Lear” play (3). Which had him acting as someone who was a leader over a group of people just as a Messiah tend to be.
After his death and the “collapse” of civilization, as the characters in the story have known of, there came out of it a group that called themselves the “Traveling Symphony” ( 35) which brings me back to the idea of the religious influences in the story. Like how “Shortly after Jesus was executed, his followers were suddenly galvanized from a baffled and cowering group into people whose message about a living Jesus and a coming kingdom, preached at the risk of their lives,” (Steinfels).
It seems like the same thing happened after Arthur died. He had a love for acting and according to the book he always wanted to act as “King Lear” in the Shakespeare play and he had the chance to do just that. Now this group called the Traveling Symphony is keeping not only acting alive, but also keeping the memory of both Shakespeare and Arthur alive. For Kirsten, I see this as a way of keeping Arthur’s memory alive and spreading his love for acting around to others. The Traveling Symphony Travels from one town to another doing plays and putting on shows “at the risk of their lives,” (Steinfels), We can get a feeling of what type of dangers this traveling group had to face during the interview of Kirsten by Diallo when she was explaining what the group went through right before they found her in Ohio “they’d lost an actor to some illness on the road…..they got shot at three times in various places. One flautists got hit and almost died of a gunshot wound” (114).
However, just like in most religion if one Messiah dies there is always another one to take his place. As we learn about a man who is called the Prophet on (51) when the Traveling Symphony went back into the town called “St. Deborah by the Water” (43). I believe that this prophet has been brought into this story to rival against the memory of Arthur, as in Arthur being the unseen Messiah, verses the “real” Prophet. This prophet seems to have control over his people by force and power while Arthur had his “control” through acting and popularity. I wonder which messiah, the memory of Arthur or the Prophet would win out in the long term.
I had found this picture because this is my vision of what the world would look like to the Traveling Symphony after the outbreak.
Here are the links to the articles that I have used in this blog:
McDaniel, Debbie. 5 Miraculous Things That Happened When Jesus Died On the Cross. 25 March. 2016, www.crosswalk.com/blogs/debbie-mcdaniel/5-miraculous-things-that-happened-when-jesus-died-on-the-cross.html
Steinfels, Peter. Jesus Died–And Then Happened. 3 Apr. 1988, www.nytimes.com/1988/04/03/weekinreview/jesus-died-and-then-what-happened.html?pagewanted=all