Miranda Carroll – The Inconspicuous Main Character

I contend that Miranda Carroll, the “.. preternaturally composed and very pretty, pale with grey eyes and dark curls [girl, who] comes into the restaurant in a rush of cold air, January clinging to her hair and her coat..”(77) is none other than the narrator herself and is the true central character in the novel. Every artist desires to resolve an internal conflict upon the canvas, after mixing the frenzied paints of their emotions in the palette of their consciousness. Thus too, does the narrator of Station Eleven resolve her feelings toward herself and her cocharacters in Station Eleven.

An indication of an ulterior motive in the narration of Station Eleven first became apparent to me by the repeated and almost clumsy references to Arthurs three marriages.. ““I think there were maybe three or four” Goneril said talking about the ex-wives ”Three”“……”“ Three divorces” Gloucester said “Can you imagine?””. I certainly can imagine a person have three great loves in their life, the phenomenon is not uncommon and Arthur Leander simply chose to formalize those relationships, perhaps in a naïve belief that by doing so he might enhance their resilience.  Admittedly, having three failed marriages is statistically uncommon but it is also insignificant from a human perspective, yet the fact pops up like a bad penny for Arthur to confront and embarrass him time and time again; and to what end I ask myself. I thus began to suspect that the character Arthur was in real life a person who was significant for the narrator yet had fallen short and disappointed her. In Station Eleven the character Arthur is very unsupportive of his first wife, the girl whom he could not forget after first meeting her when she was seventeen and whose phone number he kept with him for years before finally calling her again  “ Once in the room , he sits on the bed, relieved to be alone and unlooked-at but feeling as he always does in these moments a little disorientated, obscurely deflated, a bit at a loss, and then all at once he knows what to do. He calls the cell number that he’s been saving all these years.” (79) How beautifully romantic! Yet the fool humiliates Miranda on their third year wedding anniversary “This time I’ll be damned if the girl hasn’t got her worldly belonging with her”(97)  he recounted their second night together and then, later that night, he flirts with Elizabeth Colton “Arthur thanks everybody for coming to his home, meeting everyone’s eyes except Elizabeth’s, who had lightly touched his thigh under the table, and this is when she [Miranda] understood” (98). These slights could not be forgotten or forgiven and Arthur was condemned to die in the opening pages of Station Eleven, although he was afforded the privilege of being rehabilitated before his death when, on the night of his death..”…he didn’t want the comic because he didn’t want possessions. He didn’t want anything except his son” . Arthur Leander was allowed to die with a clear conscience, in a state of “grace” but die he must before the novel may start.

Miranda Carroll is the only true three-dimensional characters in the book . While working at Neptune Logistics we see a mature, yet not mature, twenty-four-year-old Miranda and her work colleague Thea :  “Thea, who is impeccable in a smooth, corporate way that Miranda admires…..In Thea’s presence [Miranda] feels ragged and unkempt, curls sticking up in all directions, while Thea’s hair is glossy and precise, her clothes never quite right whereas Thea’s clothes are perfect. Miranda’s lipstick is always too gaudy or too dark, her heels too high or too low. Her stockings all have holes in the feet…”(80). This description rings so true that I am sure that it is from real life. It would be so difficult to make it up. This is the voice of the narrator recalling a personal experience. “The problem is that she is colossally bored with the conversation, and also bored with Pablo,” (85) is also, I believe from a real-life experience.       “I repent nothing…Miranda is a person with very few certainties, but one of them is that only the dishonorable leave when things get difficult” (89). Here we see an ambivalence toward herself as she abandons her relationship with Pablo” (89) her failed artist boyfriend. This statement sticks out like a sore (conscience) thumb and also comes, I believe, from a real-life experience. As she attempts to fit into the lifestyle of a Hollywood wife, we see Miranda struggling with self-doubt “ “I wish you’d try a little harder” Arthur had said to her once or twice, but she knows she’ll never belong here no matter how hard she tries.”(92). This repeats the strong feelings of inadequacy that we see in the quote from line eighty above. Again  “The thing about Hollywood Miranda realizes early on, is that almost everyone is Thea, her former colleague at Neptune Logistics, which is to say that almost everyone has the right clothes, the right haircut, the right everything, while Miranda flails after them in the wrong outfit with her hair sticking up” (96). In the character of Miranda we see a true three-dimensional character, developed to a degree that would be hard to imagine if Miranda were not in fact intimately known to the narrator which I believe Miranda is, as she and the narrator are in fact, one and the same.

“A reflection of where I am in the process” said the man to himself as he explored the maze. “I honestly do not know but I believe that I will thoroughly enjoy the journey”.

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