I would like to come clean and admit something to y’all; I dislike Science Fiction. I always have. I never liked Isaac Asimov’s writing in my childhood, despite recognizing his genius. I have always felt Science Fiction to be a form of escapism from a reality which is so much more wonderful than anything science fiction could ever cook up. I know that this is a bias on my part but I do not regret it. I know that science fiction is really another way of looking at reality but I do not repent. There! I’ve said it.
That being said and having been brought by karma to English 2001, I must admit that Station Eleven appears to be easier reading than Lolita (Nanokov Vladimir), the English 2001 text from four years ago. My grandfather comes to mind, as he admonished me for not seeing the bigger picture in life: “Count your blessings”. So I count.
Having met with Prof. Belli and having seen my blogs through her eyes, I was determined to introduce much needed structure into my next blog. I decided upon a subject (the narrator’s moral assessment of characters juxtapositioned with the pre-post pandemic eras), gathered and arranged quotes, has ideas for paragraphs and leading sentences, but in so doing I slowly realized that many of the characters in the book are flat and boring. I feel that they cannot be central to what the narrator really wanted to express in Station Eleven and that writing about them at length somehow misses the point. Furthermore this my last opportunity to speak before I must forever hold my peace about Station Eleven.
Miranda Carroll and her comic-book creation “Station Eleven” which is an extension of her character are, I believe, the axis upon which this book revolves. I believe that Jeevan and Arthur, both ostensibly, central characters in the book, are mere two-dimensional projections of real-life characters who were held in high esteem or loved by the narrator, but both have hurt and disappointed her in some way, as they both did in the book.
Arthur humiliated Miranda at 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).
Jeevan Chaudhary, while working the night shift as a paparazzo outside Miranda’s and Arthur’s house in Hollywood Hills on the night of their three year anniversary delivered the coups de grâce to Miranda that night. In the early morning hours, Miranda escaped the pain of the night’s events to ask for a cigarette and some empathy from Jeevan, both of which Jeevan readily supplied. However as she started to return to the house he called to her ““Hey!” Jeevan said suddenly, and as Miranda turns, the cigarette halfway to her mouth, the flash of camera catches her unaware, Five more flashes in quick succession as she drops the cigarette on the sidewalk and walks away from him……In the morning her picture will appear in a gossip website” (103)
Miranda Carroll is one of the few true three-dimensional characters in the book (Kirsten Raymonde being another).We first meet Miranda at age seventeen “.. preternaturally composed and very pretty, pale with grey eyes and dark curls, she comes into the restaurant in a rush of cold air, January clinging to her hair and her coat..”(77). While working at Neptune Logistics we see a more 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).
We see a true three-dimensional character developed that would be hard to imagine as I believe Miranda is not.
So Miranda divorces Arthur, moves on, develops a business career, meets Arthur again in chapter thirty nine and meets the young Kirsten when she drops off the “Station Eleven” comics. Kirsten will carry the “Station Eleven” torch from this point on. Miranda heads off into the sunset to die of the Georgian Flu in distant Malaysia in chapter forty one,
Kirsten Raymonde is another three-dimensional character. I believe that Kirsten is another extension of the character that is Miranda. However we do not see the same depth in Kirsten that we have seen in Miranda.