As soon as reading Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, we are introduced to Arthur Leander who is playing the role of King Lear. While Arthur is on stage, he begins to stumble wheeze and there is also a sudden change in his face. He goes on to cradle his hand to his chest “like a broken bird.” (Mandel, page 3.”) One of the actors was looking at Arthur closely whilst this was going on but assumed that he was acting. However, there was a man in the front row of the orchestra section who seemed to realize something was wrong.
We are introduced to this man as Jeevan, he was training to be a paramedic. To Arthur’s luck in that moment, Jeevan knew the play very well and realized that he was skipping over lines. He threw himself onto the stage and caught Arthur before he collapsed to the ground. By this time, everyone in the theater including the actors caught on to what was actually going on. Arthur was not acting, something was actually wrong with the man. Arthur’s heart was no longer beating.
At this point, Jeevan began CPR and the curtain drops now separating the stage and the audience. A cardiologist, Walter Jacobi, makes his way through the curtains to try and help Arthur as well. While Jeevan had multiple thoughts going through his mind including, “please start breathing again.” (Mandel, page 5.) Walter was waiting for his turn to help. Soon after the ambulance had arrived and the paramedics were now attending to Arthur. They shocked his body in hopes of restarting his heart but unfortunately he was pronounced dead at nine fourteen p.m.
While Jeevan was looking for a way to exit the scene he had heard a child whimpering. He goes to her, Kirsten, to comfort her and get her away from what was going on. As Jeevan finally makes his way out he thinks of what was going on and what an impact it had on him. Arthur dying right in front of Jeevan was a turning point in his life. Jeevan had been a “bartender, a paparazzo, an entertainment journalist, then a paparazzo again and then once again a bartender.” (Mandel, page 16.) After seeing Arthur die Jeevan was now certain that he wanted to become a paramedic.
We now go back to Kirsten, who is still crying. Tanya hands her an object that she thought “was the most beautiful, the most wonderful, the strangest thing anyone had ever given her. It was a lump of glass with a storm cloud trapped inside.” (Mandel, page 15.) I took this as foreshadowing for what is to come. As if we are already told that something is soon about to come at these people but they won’t have anywhere to go. They’ll be “trapped” before anyone even realizes what is happening. We get to the “storm” that Hua, Jeevan’s only close friend introduces him to. The Georgia Flu was an epidemic mimicking flu like symptoms. Hua quickly realized that this was not something to take lightly so he advises Jeevan to get his brother and his girlfriend and leave the city at once or stay in his apartment. Unfortunately, Jeevan cannot leave as soon as Hua would like him to so he stacks up on basic supplies like food and water.