What’s Necessary

In the post-apocalyptic novel,” Station Eleven”, by Emily St. John Mandel.The world has collapsed in the book, the story is mainly focused on a group of young adults who call themselves, The Symphony. The group tends to travel a lot in search for items that can help their memories but, they also take it upon themselves to keep acting in plays alive. Of course, on this journey that can seem to lead to nowhere but danger, the characters face many challenges such as loneliness and both good and hurtful memories from the past. Memories can hold a lot of power to oneself. Emily St. John Mandel uses her novel to show readers how important it can be to preserve what matters to someone and how it can add on to history.

One of the most difficult challenges that the characters must face in this new harsh reality of theirs is how lonely they truly are. After the destruction of the Georgia Flu, the cities and towns that were once well known became fictitious. What was once civilization, became small settlements. “You’re not from around here, are you?” in various accents, these encounters interspersed with moving trucks. If it was hard to break into new places then, in that ludicrously easy world where food was on shelves in supermarkets and travel was as easy as taking a seat in a gasoline-powered machine and water came out of taps, it was several orders of magnitude more difficult now. The Symphony was insufferable, hell was other flutes or other people or whoever had used the last of the rosin or whoever missed the most rehearsals, but the truth was that the symphony was their only home” (Mandel, Chapter 10 pg 48) Of course, loneliness affects people differently. Some may prefer to be alone but, others might find it hard to accept that this is what the rest of their life will consist of, of no family and no place to call their own. Just imagine a life where one day you’re able to make your own cooked meal, and then the next day suddenly needing to manhunt for something to eat, or a safe location to sleep.  But, the absence of family and a home brings The Symphony closer together, and at the end, that’s what truly matters. “Hell is the absence of the people you long for” (Mandel, Chapter 23 pg 144) What mattered now are the people that they got to share their life with, and the new beginnings that were created.

Memories can be people’s salvation. In the novel, Clark creates the museum of civilization in order to preserve the old world and the importance it once had. “There seemed to be a limitless number of objects in the world that had no practical use but that people wanted to preserve: cell phones with their delicate buttons, iPads, Tyler’s Nintendo console, a selection of laptops. There were a number of impractical shoes, stilettos mostly, beautiful and strange…..Traders brought things for Clark sometimes, objects of no real value that they knew her would like: magazines and newspapers, a stamp collection, coins. There were the passports or the driver’s licenses or sometimes the credit cards of people who had lived at the airport and then died. Clark kept impeccable records”(Mandel, Chapter 44 pg 258) Clark preserves such items to help him and the survivors who lived before the collapse of what the world was once like. It is painful for those that have lost communication with their families but, now the younger generation may know what a cell phone is, and a laptop. The memories of the past have used a form of art here, and history. One can say that the passports are what citizens would use to cross to other countries etc, But now there are no borders, and there are no airplanes. And, although these items have no practical use, it helps bring people and their memories together in the attempt to make their new world a better place.

For my essay I will be mostly focusing on one’s memories and if it either has a positive outcome to remember such things or a negative outcome. My evidence will probably change but, in the meantime this is it.

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