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Transcript of Station Eleven
design by Dóri Sirály for Prezi
Other Important Topics or Themes
Family & Fatherhood
Sanity vs. Insanity
Collapse of government, military, and medical systems
Fragility of Civilization
Absurdity of the Old World vs. Absurdity of the New World
The Wonders of Technology
Birds & Snow (death)
Ships & Sailing
p. 237 - "[Elizabeth Colton] looked a little deranged, but so did everyone else"
p. 249 - Clark and Dolores agree to tell each other if they were going insane
p. 250 -- Elizabeth Colton still thinks the government is going to come; her denial of the truth seems to be a sign of insanity.
p. 241 - Clark is "staring into space." "hazard in allowing his thoughts to drift too loosely"
the National Guard never comes; the man rapes a woman and is banished; the girl can't get her Effexor; Jeevan works as a doctor. p. 243 - "911 wasn't even operational."
Collapse of commercial society
p.243 --they break into the Mexican restaurant and leave an Amex card that stays there for 97 days.
Characters learn of the extent of the problem from the media; then when the TV networks shut down, they know how serious the situation is.
"It just doesn't make sense," Elizabeth insisted. "Are we supposed to believe that civilization has just come to an end?" "Well," Clark offered, "it was always a little fragile, wouldn't you say?"
corporate speak in the old world/knife tattoos in the New World
the weight of the past for Arthur and for Miranda (who gives it back to Arthur)
beauty of art for Tanya
beauty of art and memory/connection to the past for Kirsten
Dear V book
symbolizes the pain and weight of the past, shame, regret, betrayal, and exposure
rebirth & human journeys
Important Topics/Themes: Performance
-- Arthur dies during his performance of King Lear. Even after he feels his heart attack, he tries to deliver some of his lines.
”This was act 4 of King Lear, a winter night at the Elgin theatre in Toronto”(3).
"No one looked at Jeevan, and it occurred to him that his role in this performance was done. . . Jeevan was looking for the easiest way to exit the scene . . . " (6).
--Jeevan administers CPR to Arthur on stage and considers his actions as similar to a role in a performance.
"From the bar the snow was almost abstract, a film about bad weather on a deserted street" (15).
People from the play and the bartender discuss Arthur's death; the snow appears as though it were from a film (like a performance).
"He [Arthur] was performing. Clark had thought he was meeting his oldest friend for dinner, but Arthur wasn't having dinner with a friend, Clark realized so much as having dinner with an audience" (112).
FORESHADOWING and SYMBOLISM AT BEGINNING
2. Arthur's Death
1. The Play King Lear
3. Jeevan's failing relationship with Laura
[Arthur] cradled his hand to his chest like a broken bird (3). The wren goes to't -- Arthur's last line
The ambulance had arrived, a pair of medics approaching through the absurdly still-falling snow, and then they were upon the fallen actor like crows . . . (5-6)
the lines of Arthur's face, his last words - the wren - and this made him think of birds, Frank with his binoculars the few times they'd been bird-watching together, Laura's favorite summer dress, which was blue with a storm of yellow parrots, Laura, what would become of them? (16).
Snow was falling on Yonge Street (9).
The snow was falling fast around them. . . Arthur wasn't breathing (4).
An Airport Terminal
Not quite a room, Jeevan thought now, looking around the stage. It was too transitory, all those doorways and dark spaces between wings, the missing ceiling. It was more like a terminal, he thought, a train station or an airport, everyone passing quickly through (5).
Important Topics/Themes: Loss/Grief AND Change/Adaptation
Recurs in Part 9: "Looks like snow" (317).
Part 8: Kirsten imagines people dying of the flu as they approached the airport: "Some people would have turned back and retraced their steps for miles, tried to find another way to escape from an illness that was everywhere, inescapable by then. Others, sick or very tired, would have stepped off the road and lay down on their backs to watch the snow falling down upon them, to look up at the cold sky" (298).
The archer sank to his knees, staring at the handle protruding from between his ribs. A flock of birds rose up above the rooftops and settled into the sudden quiet (285).
Kirsten didn't want to look at the prophet anymore, or more precisely, she didn't want the last thing she saw on earth to be his face and the point of his rifle. She raised her head to look past him at leaves flickering in sunlight, at the brilliant blue of the sky. Birdsong (301).
Significance of Performance Theme
Many of Shakespeare's plays refer to how life is similar to a performance.
Explores the relationship between art and life: How is life similar to a performance?
At what times in life do humans find themselves performing? Examples: Social roles - son, daughter, student, employee
Shakespeare's play As You Like It: "All the world’s a stage/And all the men and women merely players."
Before the pandemic:
Arthur represents the negative side of performance: it is hard to tell if he is being genuine in his relationships or just performing.
After the pandemic:
REAL VS. FALSE
With the Traveling Symphony, performance becomes more meaningful as it gives people a motivation beyond survival.
". . . and I submit that we were saved' - his voice was rising - 'not only to bring the light, to spread the light, but to be the light. We were saved because we are the light. We are the pure" (60).
The prophet performs for his people through speeches that claim to give "a reason" for the pandemic.
The prophet's performance is meant to provide a narrative of meaning for the pandemic, which was potentially meaningless and random ("everything happens for a reason"). Also, he provides a mission beyond survival to people ("we were saved because we are the light. We are the pure."). At the same time, the Prophet is a negative figure, and the author is critiquing religious fanaticism and cults with their focus on the end of the world and the false meaning they offer to the vulnerable.
Section 7 - p. 240-1 - Clark's grief over Robert, his boyfriend. He realizes that the subjects of his 360 reports are probably all dead.
Section 8 - Kirsten grieves over Dieter's death
LOSS AND GRIEF
Loss: Miranda and Clark had just lost their friend Arthur to a heart attack and can’t comprehend the information. Clark says “ Its hard to take in.” Miranda: "It seems impossible to me too.”
LOSS AND CHANGE/ADAPTATION:
All of chapter six is a list of the everyday world activities that no longer exist after the pandemic. “No more countries, all borders unmanned.” People experience this loss and change and must adapt to survive.
Part of being human is to experience grief and loss; humans must adapt to these changes to survive.
Themes: Fame & Celebrity
Part 7: The first winter in the Severn City Airport: There was a frisson of excitement of Day Two, when someone recognized Elizabeth and Tyler and word spread. "My phone," Clark heard a young man say in frustration. He was about twenty, with hair that flopped in his eyes."God, why won't our phones work? I so wish I could tweet this" (242).
FAME & CELEBRITY
Arthur is the celebrity who connects all of the characters. He is the first to die, symbolizing the death that will be ushered in from the Georgia Flu and that will affect people from all levels in society -- both the ordinary and extraordinary.
SIGNIFICANCE: a critique of fame
Critique of fame & celebrity: People are fascinated by celebrities and often desire fame, but this novel shows the more problematic aspects of fame such as the paparazzi, lack of privacy, and Arthur, himself, is a particularly unhappy person despite his fame, because he has lost connection to his son, Tyler.
Jeevan takes an unflattering photo of Miranda at 4 a.m. "In the morning her picture will appear on a gossip website: TROUBLE IN PARADISE? AMID RUMORS OF ARTHUR'S INFIDELITY, MIRANDA WANDERS THE STREETS OF HOLLYWOOD AT FOUR A.M." (103).
Fame is one way that people can fight their mortality and live on after their deaths (in a sense).
Arthur is someone who many characters in the book remember in some way, even if they cannot remember their own family members (ex: Kirsten can't remember her parents but remembers Arthur).
Does Tyler also seek to continue the fame to which he is accustomed by becoming the Prophet? The prophet is famous/infamous in the post-pandemic world.
"First, we only want to be seen but once we're seen, that's not enough anymore. After that, we want to be remembered" (187).
[Arthur] had done some things he wasn't proud of. If Miranda was so unhappy in Hollywood, why hadn't he just taken her away from there? It wouldn't have been difficult. The way he'd dropped Miranda for Elizabeth and Elizabeth for Lydia and let Lydia slip away to someone else . . . the way he'd spent his entire life chasing after something, money or fame or immortality or all of the above (327).
The topic of the pandemic helps the novel explore human beings' basic desire to assign meaning and purpose to their lives and to leave behind a legacy and to be remembered after they are gone. Humans use several means to live on in some manner after their deaths and to achieve some form of immortality whether that is fame, creating art, having children, doing good work, or discovering something new. Humans may also be promised immortality through their religious beliefs.
Survival, The Role of Art
in Survival, and Memory and Survival
“He [Jeevan] started with water, filled one of the oversized shopping carts with as many cases and bottles as he could fit" (22)
“Hua said he called his wife and told her to take the kids and leave the city tonight, but not by airplane" (22).
Kirsten's knife tattoos because she killed in order to survive.
The Role of Art in Survival
1. The Traveling Symphony
2. The Museum of Civilization
Art is depicted in this novel as essential for humans to find meaning in life and to connect with other people.
Example: Clarinet says Shakespeare is inadequate; Dieter provides reasons the Symphony performs Shakespeare; Clarinet writes her own play but can't get past the first line.
Since art holds power, the Clarinet questions whether Shakespeare is the right type of play to perform.
Memory and Survival
p. 267 -- the year that Kirsten does not remember and that she would rather not remember
To maintain their sanity, the characters either can't remember or choose not to remember. Guarding their minds against insanity (represented by the Prophet and Elizabeth) helps them to survive and adapt.
p249 - Clark tries not to remember anyone from before the epidemic to maintain sanity; he tries not to look at the flight in which everyone died
Memory, Sight, Sanity
The characters dwell on the past in search of good memories to sustain them.
Dreams -- related to Memory
p. 304 - Kirsten's brother has nightmares of the road the 1st year after the pandemic
p.283 -Kirsten has a bad dream.
p. 289 -Clarinet has a good dream
3. The Station Eleven Graphic Novel (sustains Miranda more than her relationships)
p. 133-34 - Dieter dreams a happy dream about airplanes and a civilization that still exists somewhere
Quotation: "Sometimes the Traveling Symphony thought that what they were doing was noble. There were moments around campfires when someone would say something invigorating about the importance of art, and everyone would find it easier to sleep that night. At other times it seemed a difficult and dangerous way to survive, especially at times when they had to camp between towns" (120).
They measure time based on the years since the pandemic.
Time slows down for Kirsten when she has to kill a man.
Time is a human construct. The experience of time is subjective. We may experience time "flying by" or "dragging," depending on what we are doing.
p. 232 - Clark feels lucky to have lived for so long with technology
The story is not told with a chronological plot (events following in time order).
The chaos of the disaster is reflected through the story's jumps in time.
symbol of the impending apocalypse on a religious level
Loss of the luxuries of the past
Airplanes & Airport
they represent the highest technological achievement of the previous world; center of "civilization" in the past. Safe haven from the pandemic & Hope for rebuilding a new community.
Cell phones, electronic devices, objects in the Museum of Civilization, and snowglobe
the beauty of human achievement and interconnectedness/globalism
Station Eleven Graphic Novel
symbol of the impending apocalypse artistically and for Tyler, on a religious level. He treats it as a prophecy.
Book of Revelation
AMEX (American Express Card)
collapse of commercial society and capitalism
Jeevan's trip to the supermarket, p. 21 - one of the last times, people will shop.
horrors of the unremembered first year just after the pandemic
Eleanor tells the Symphony that Charlie and Jeremy went to the Museum of Civilization (124).
Most of the main characters eventually meet up at the Museum of Civilization.
Everyone and everything is somehow connected. Humans depend on connections to others for their well-being.
Arthur is a main character to whom most of the other important characters are interconnected.
[Jeevan] had been walking for five days before he saw anyone else. At first the solitude was a relief - he'd imagined a lawless world, he'd imagined being robbed of his backpack and left to die without supplies a thousand times - but as the days passed, the meaning of the emptiness began to sink in. The Georgia Flu was so efficient that there was almost no one left. But on the fifth day he saw three people far ahead on the shore and his heart leapt . . . (192).
Isolation is short-lived as a theme in Station Eleven. The novel depends much more on the theme of connection between human beings and human relationships that help us to survive.
Compare to the Road in which isolation is a much
more prominent theme, and connections to other
people are harder to make.
Quotation: On silent afternoons in his brother's apartment, Jeevan found himself thinking about how human the city is, how human everything is. We bemoaned the impersonality of the modern world, but that was a lie, it seemed to him. it had never been impersonal at all. There had always been a massive delicate infrastructure of people, all of them working unnoticed around us, and when people stop going to work, the entire operation grinds to a halt. No one delivers fuel to the gas stations or the airports. Cars are stranded. Airplanes cannot fly. Trucks remain at their points of origin. Food never reaches the cities . . . (178).
Jeevan's new family & new baby Frank (named after his brother)
Family, Fatherhood, Brotherhood, Rebirth
Family & Rebirth
Charlie and Jeremy and their baby Annabel
Family & Fatherhood
Arthur is unhappy because his son is in Jerusalem. He wants to repair his relationship with his son: "In the way he looked at the girl [Kirsten], Miranda saw how much he missed his own child, his distant son."
Loss of family
People grieve the lost of family in the apocalypse.
The Symphony becomes a new family for its members.
Theme of Rebirth and New Beginnings
Connects to the fatherhood and family theme:
Jeevan's son symbolizes rebirth and a new beginning
Charlie and Jeremy's daugher, Annabel
In Part 9, Arthur wants to give away all of his money and start over with his son in Israel.
The town lit up by electricity is a rebirth and new beginning for civilization.
Section 9 focuses on Arthur's regrets in life and how he wants a new beginning that does not materialize because of his heart attack.
In contrast, Miranda says, "I repent nothing" and wants (to force herself?) to have a life without regret.
She goes to the beach to die to give herself a more majestic setting than the hotel room.
p. 320 -- Arthur's regrets over his three ex-wives and his son
Compare the last paragraph of Station Eleven to the last paragraph of the Road:
Station Eleven: Clark looks up at the evening activity on the tarmac, at the planes that have been grounded for twenty years, the reflection of his candle flickering in the glass. He has no expectation of seeing an airplane rise again in his lifetime, but is it possible that somewhere there are ships setting out? If there are again towns with streetlights, if there are symphonies and newspapers, then what else might this awakening world contain? Perhaps vessels are setting out even now, traveling toward or away from him, steered by sailors armed with maps and knowledge of the stars, driven by need or perhaps simply by curiosity: whatever became of the countries on the other side? If nothing else, it's pleasant to consider the possibility. He likes the thought of ships moving over the water, toward another world just out of sight (332-33)
Ships = Symbol of rebirth
The Road: Once there were brook trout in the streams in the mountains. You could see them standing in the amber current where the white edges of their fins wimpled softly in the flow. They smelled of moss in your hand. Polished and muscular and torsional. On their backs were vermiculate patterns that were maps of the world in its becoming. Maps and mazes. Of a thing which could not be put back. Not be made right again. In the deep glens where they lived all things were older than man and they hummed of mystery (287).
Brook Trout -- possible symbol of rebirth? An ambiguous symbol
Rebirth is much stronger in Station Eleven than the Road.
Relates to memory
Diallo: The more we know about the former world, the better we'll understand what happened when it fell.
Raymonde: But everyone knows what happened. The new strain of swine flu and then the flights out of Moscow, those planes full of patient zeros. . .
Diallo: Nonetheless, I believe in understanding history.
Raymonde: Fair enough. Some towns, as I was saying, some towns are like this one, where they want to talk about what happened, about the past. Other towns, discussion of the past is discouraged. We went to a place once where the children didn't know the world had ever been different . . . (114-15).
Relates to education after the pandemic: whether children should learn about the technology of the past when they will never use it.
Humans want a connection to their past and to their ancestors, and they want to be able to learn from history.
The Prophet and Elizabeth Colton
"Everything happens for a reason." equated with insanity p. 261.
Tyler reading to the dead from the Book of Revelation, p. 260
This novel critiques the idea of the doomsday cult, any religious group that focuses almost exclusively on the end of the world and finds its meaning there.
Famous Doomsday Cults:
Jim Jones and the People's Temple: Jones thought the world would end by nuclear war. He convinced 900 Temple members to drink cyanide and kill themselves in 1978.
David Koresh and the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas -- they thought the world would end and waited for it with their leader Koresh.
Heaven's Gate cult -- 39 members committed suicide so that they could leave their body and enter heaven through an alien spacecraft hidden behind a comet called the Hale-Bopp comet.
The boy who accompanies the Prophet kills himself after he kills the Prophet
Like isolation, suicide is much less significant as a topic in Station Eleven than in the Road in which the wife's suicide is revisited multiple times.
Dear V book
Jeevan taking Miranda's photo outside her anniversary party
Athur's Infidelity to his wives
Kirsten's cheating on Sayid
This theme is explored as a negative side to fame and a negative side to connections with other people.
In Traverse City, the town they'd left recently, an inventor had rigged an electrical system in an attic. It was modest in scope, a stationary bicycle that when pedaled vigorously could power a laptop, but the inventor had grander aspirations: the point wasn't actually the electrical system, the point was that he was looking for the internet.
The Museum of Civilization mostly showcases technology.
Air-conditioning came out of a vent, August confirmed, "You'd press a button, and whoosh! Cold air. I had one in my bedroom (121).
Technology epresents the best of human achievement and human culture
It is powerful like art is.
Symbol of Sleepwalkers
"Had Arthur seen that Clark was sleepwalking? Would this be in the letters to V.? Because he had been sleepwalking, Clark realized, moving half-asleep through the motions of his life for a while now, years; not specifically unhappy, but when had he last found real joy in his work? When was the last time he'd been truly moved by anything? When had he last felt awe or inspiration? . . ." (164)
Arthur seems to go through the motions of his life too.
Kirsten, as a child actor, also seemed to go through the motions.
Jeevan had panic attacks in the years before the pandemic and could not settle on a job.
After the pandemic, many characters have stopped being sleepwalkers through life and begun to feel awe and inspiration, finding greater meaning in their lives and the world.
It is ironic that the altered world has awakened the characters.
Much more positive scenario for humanity than the Road
Clark's 360 reports
Three Important Symbols in Part 1 that foreshadow the end of the world