In the novel Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel there are many conflicts throughout the novel and a central one can be said to be the need to find a purpose. The novel takes place in a post apocalyptic era where there has been a pandemic known as the Georgia Flu which has ended with society, and in many ways, humanity has we know it. This pandemic has wiped all forms of former life and has left only small towns of people who only live to survive one more day, and this can be said to be their purpose.
The Traveling Symphony is part of the post pandemic population but rather than settle in towns they have found their purpose to be to travel across their known territory in search of people who might want to listen and see them perform. They are a group of artist lead by the Conductor which has decided to travel in order to perform plays, play music and as one can say keep the art form of performing preserved. One of the member’s of this symphony is Kirsten, she is a young women who most of all I believe longs to find her purpose in this new world, but surprising I think she also wants to find her role in the previous one. She has items in her possession like the comic book called Station Eleven written by someone who lived pre Georgia Flu. This comic book is a link to the world that was destroyed with the flu and Kirsten does not know what to do with this power. The power of having something from the past, not knowing whether to keep it for memory or leave it behind like everything else was. The purpose of having something like this would be to find more about it.
Everyone from Kirsten, August, the Conductor, and even the Prophet which can be said to be the antagonist of the story, have and set out to find their purpose. The Conductor lives by the quote “Because survival is insufficient” (Mandel 58) She can be said to live for the symphony and the preserving of art and music. Kirsten lives for surviving and finding clues and hints of what her life was like before the Flu. She was too young to remember her live in detail like August, a member of the symphony, but was old enough to know she had a life. The Prophet is a bit more complicated because not much is said about him until the end of the novel, but one can infer his purpose was to find a purpose because he was so caught up in the idea of being “the light” and spreading “the light” that he was lost in his own thoughts.
The novel ends with something that was absent throughout, hope. Hope I think goes hand in hand with a purpose because hope can give you strength to have a purpose. The hope is only a glimpse but it is there, “but it is possible that somewhere there are ships setting out?” (Mandel 332) After all was set and done people’s purpose to live and need to survive shift and people find new thing to live for.