Loneliness and Longing of the Past

Throughout Parts 4-6 of Station Eleven, I felt that there was a sense of sadness, loneliness and isolation in all of the character’s story lines, but especially with Arthur Leander.

As with the previous parts of the novel, the chapters are constantly shifting in perspective from character to character, and are disjointed in time. The chapters would usually denote the time that it takes place usually within the first few sentences, in relation to the day of the Georgian Flu pandemic. For example, the start of Chapter 32 begins with “On day forty-seven…”(182), and Chapter 39 begins with “Two weeks before the end of commercial travel…”(205).

Loneliness and isolation is prevalent in almost all of the character’s story lines in Parts 4-6, beginning with Kirsten and August’s separation from the Traveling Symphony at the end of Chapter 23. They begin searching for the missing scouts Dieter and Sayid, but end up being abandoned by the Symphony. Later, while scavenging, Kirsten and August find several items from before the pandemic, and are swept with feelings of nostalgia for the old world. “In the en suite bathroom, Kirsten closed her eyes for just a second as she flipped the light switch. Naturally nothing happened, but as always in these moments she found herself straining to remember what it had been like when this motion had worked: walk into a room, flip a switch and the room floods with light” (150). In this moment, Kirsten shows a longing for things that she had experienced in the world before the collapse of civilization, as evident in hoping that there would be working electricity in a derelict building. She even “admired the rows of Q-tips inside [the china box] before she pocketed them” (150), which is a particularly strange item to admire, as we consider Q-tips to be a trivial thing, but this shows how much the world has changed after the Georgian Flu pandemic.

In Part 5, we see the return of Jeevan Chaudhary, whose storyline wasn’t explored since Part 1. Jeevan’s story is particularly saddening, as he is left alone after the suicide of his brother Frank. I assume Frank had decided to commit suicide because he was paralyzed and wheelchair-bound, and would be unable to fend for himself in the new post-apocalyptic world, and he did not want to burden his brother Jeevan with the responsibility of caring for him. This is a particularly depressing situation to imagine. Jeevan, now all alone in a hostile world, walks aimlessly in the cold winter snow, in hopes of finding the military.

In Part 5 and 6, there is more backstory to Arthur Leander’s character. In Arthur’s interview with Jeevan, he is depicted as “…pale and obviously sleep-deprived with dark circles under his eyes” (171). Arthur is very tired of celebrity life, and is depressed and lonely, after having divorced two wives. He tells Jeevan that he gives “too many [interviews] … It was easier when it was just theater and TV work … But you get successful in movies, and Christ, it’s like this whole other thing” (170). Arthur continues: “It’s still somehow embarrassing, all the attention. I tell people I don’t notice the paparazzi anymore, but I do. I just can’t look at them” (170). This shows that Arthur was deeply uncomfortable with fame. I also found it ironic, and truthful, that in Frank’s memoir, he writes that “[actors] acted because they loved acting, but also, let’s be honest here, to be noticed. All they wanted was to be seen” (186). I think that this implied that Arthur had left his home island and pursued acting to escape being unknown and irrelevant and lonely at home, but after he has achieved fame, he finds himself regretting his choices and remains lonely.

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