what counts

       And here we are!, the final chapters of Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel.This novel was full of themes such as death, survival, Faith/religion, Civilization and most importantly, memory. Truth be told, I mostly enjoyed the “flashbacks” that the characters would have, Sometimes the story was hard to keep up with due to how the settings would jump back and forth. But, anyhow I really loved how the novel used memories as a form of comfort for the survivors, despite their change in other to survive and as a form of hope to continue in moving forward one way or the other.

“It’s hard to explain,” he caught himself saying sometimes to young people who came into his museum, which had formerly been the Skymiles Lounge in Concourse C. But he took his role as curator seriously and he’d decided years ago that “It’s hard to explain” isn’t good enough, so he always tried to explain it all anyway, whenever anyone asked about any of the objects he’d collected over the years, from the airport and beyond—the laptops, the iPhones, the radio from an administrative desk, the electric toaster from an airport-staff lounge, the turntable and vinyl records that some optimistic scavenger had carried back from Severn City—and of course the context, the pre-pandemic world that he remembered so sharply. No, he was explaining now, to a sixteen-year-old who’d been born in the airport, the planes didn’t rise straight up into the sky. They gathered speed on long runways and angled upward.” (Chapter 42)  Clark feels more than grateful not only to be alive during these times but to have been alive when civilization was at its finest. Since the much younger generation has no idea how it was before the collapse, Clark seems to have given himself sort of a job, in making sure that he passes on the memories that he currently has especially about how amazing technology was. In modern day, I’d say society looks past how far we have come, but just like in the story there can only be a matter of time until we all one day look back and think how some materials were taken for granted.

At the end of a conversation that Kirsten is having with Francois, we (the readers) learn something VERY! Interesting about Kirsten.  “Agreed. When you think of how the world’s changed in your lifetime, what do you think about?” “I think of killing.” Her gaze was steady. “Really? Why?” “Have you ever had to do it?” Francois sighed. He didn’t like to think about it. “I was surprised in the woods once.” “I’ve been surprised too.” It was evening, and Francois had lit a candle in the library. It stood in the middle of a plastic tub, for safety. The candlelight softened the scar on Kirsten’s left cheekbone. She was wearing a summer dress with a faded pattern of white flowers on red, three sheathed knives in her belt. “How many?” he asked. She turned her wrist to show the knife tattoos. Two.” (Chapter 45)  As far as I know, before the collapse one never necessarily just thought about killing people or just someone. Therefore, Kirsten thinks of killing when she thinks about how much the world has changed, it is one of the only ways to survive. Kirsten’s memory of these deaths that she has caused will always be with her, especially since she has the tattoo which seems to symbolize either pride in what she has done or just her survival.
She states why she did it.  “…….It’s a physiological response to danger,” Dieter told her, when Kirsten mentioned the soundlessness of those seconds, the way time stretched and expanded. This seemed a reasonable-enough explanation, but there was nothing in her memories to account for how calm she was afterward, when she pulled her knife from the man’s throat and cleaned it, and this was why she stopped trying to remember her lost year on the road, the thirteen unremembered months between leaving Toronto with her brother and arriving in the town in Ohio where they stayed until he died and she left with the Symphony. Whatever that year on the road contained, she realized, it was nothing she wanted to know about. ………”(Chapter 50) In order to survive, Kirsten killed instead of being the one that gets killed during these times, this made her the strong character that she is. If the world wouldn’t have changed, Kirsten would not have needed to encounter such situations, therefore she hates these memories and hopes to never need to kill again.

And of course, the novel jumps back in time to Arthur’s past. But, during this time it takes place before the exact moment of his death. It was very sad that he had decided to become a better man/father to his son Tyler. “Is the book bad?” “I wish it didn’t exist. But you know, I’m glad you came by,” he said.  “Why?” “I have a present for you.” He felt a little guilty as he handed her the Dr. Eleven comics because, after all, Miranda had intended them for him, but he didn’t want the comics because he didn’t want possessions. He didn’t want anything except his son. When he was alone again, Arthur put on his costume. He sat for a few minutes in his finery, enjoying the weight of the velvet cape, left his crown on the coffee table next to the grapes and walked down the hall to Makeup.(Chapter 53) It seems to me that Arthur is giving away his memories/possessions of Miranda purposely, it could most likely be because of how he hurt her. But, also because of the new he intended to have with his son in Israel. We finally learned how the comic books were sent out, and we also learn that Arthur was not such a bad man after all. He at least tried to change before his death and his memories are what made him put in an effort to do so.

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