Survival at its Finest

“Survival is insufficient”, some might say but throughout the novel ‘Station Eleven’ by Emily St. John Mandel that’s how the characters got by. Survival might not be enough for one to live life but it sure is needed to get through a flu pandemic. Throughout the novel we see the difficulty in adjusting to a new world and what it takes to stay alive. People are creating spiritual cults, closed off cities, living in airports, and even created a traveling music and theatre group. Though some characters in the novel think survival is not enough, surviving brought a few of the characters a long way and I will discuss few of the characters who successfully and unsuccessfully depended  on survival.

One of the main characters in the novel who subconsciously depended on survival is Kirsten Raymonde. I refer to Kirsten as a subconsciously survivalist because even though it’s not exactly stated in the novel that Kirsten agrees with the quote survival is insufficient it’s tattooed on her and on the side of the caravan(58) of the musical theatre group she belongs too which gives me the impression that she does agree with the quote; but as long as the outbreak and the after outbreak has been in effect all Kirsten has been doing is trying to survive. On several pages such as 113, 185, 188, and 195 Kirsten is having an interview with François Diallo, a liberian, publisher and editor of New Petoskey News where she tells him about the times her and her brother has been surviving by themselves after the pandemic. In one interview where Kirsten stated but didn’t realize that her actions and circumstances were relied on survival is on page 113, where Kirsten is addressing how she found the Traveling Symphony. She states, “Ohio. The town where we ended up after we left Toronto, my brother and I, and then after he died I was there by myself.” During this period of time Kristen was fourteen years old, and she doesn’t talk about much of her journey by herself in the novel but perceived from the quote it’s obvious that she had to survive on her own after her brother died, and she did an outstanding job at the age of fourteen because soon enough she was founded by the Symphony and continued to survive alongside with them. Along with the quote on Kirsten forearm, she has another tattoo of two knives crossed together on her right arm, which we found out that they stood for the amount of people she had to kill (265). In chapter 22, paragraph 1, Kirsten reflects on Alexandra, a child part of the Traveling Symphony and how different she is, she states, “Kirsten thought, that Alexandra would live out her life without killing anyone. She was a younger fifteen- year -old than Kirsten had ever been” Kirsten mentioned about killing at the age of fifteen, maybe that’s the age when she first had to defend herself and killed someone; and at the age she was by herself,  her brother died when she was fourteen so she had no other option than to protect herself at all cost. This is survival by any means necessary, even if that means having to kill someone at a very young age. But throughout everything, Kirsten has always been trying to survive to get by in this ‘new world from the youngest of age to her successfully becoming a grown up’, this is survival to its finest.

A second character who turns to survival is Jeevan Chaudhary. Jeevan can be seen trying his best to survive throughout the parts he was mentioned in the novel. The very first time we as readers see Jeevan in survival mode is in the beginning when he first finds out about the flu outbreak. He goes hysterical into survival mode and buys the whole store and pushes all seven carts to his brother Frank house(25). Another sense of survival is the multiple jobs Jeevan had. You could say he didn’t receive his calling until that night Arthur died on stage. One of his jobs as a paparazzo can be seen a survival job. Jeevan had to do whatever to get good pictures of celebrities, even if that meant “stalking celebrities from behind sidewalk planters and lying in wait in parked cars.” He had to do whatever to survive as a paparazzo, which isn’t an easy job.

The last paragraph isn’t so well constructed because my life started spiraling out of control and I felt like I needed to rush and get this done before it was marked late, but I know i ca do a lot better. 

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