Discuss the ways in which the graphic novel Station Eleven mirrors the post-Georgia Flu world. How are they alike and how are they different?
Both Station Eleven's space station and the post-Georgia Flu world are settings in which can be explored the psychological effects sustained by inhabitants of a world that does not feel like their own. They pine for the comforts of their old life on earth. The aliens that have overtaken earth are a physical enemy in the graphic novel Station Eleven that can be reasoned with and or fought, whereas the enemy in the real world is simply a virus that cannot be beaten in a war. The aesthetic differences between the two worlds—Station Eleven being a space station trapped in eternal twilight or night and earth still having the same natural beauty—are less pronounced than the similar feeling of longing for the way things used to be.
Describe the journey of Arthur Leander. When he speaks of the regrets of a fifty-one-year-old, what regrets might he be referring to?
Although Arthur achieves professional success as an actor, he harbors a host of personal regrets. He regrets isolating himself from his only friends, Victoria and Clark, and ultimately having no one to turn to but Miranda in times of personal tragedy such as the death of his father. He also regrets his failed marriages to Miranda and Elizabeth and discovers that karma applies to him as well when his third wife Lydia leaves him. Most of all, he regrets not spending more time with his son and vows at the end of his life to move to be closer to him.
What are the major differences between the lifestyles of characters before the Georgia Flu and after? What are the similarities? What does the device of interspersing these time periods throughout the novel accomplish?
The comforts of the past world are constantly discussed by characters in the future. Simple pleasures such as refrigerators and air conditioning are badly missed, and medical maladies that in the past were easily treatable spell death for characters in the future, for example when Kristen's brother steps on a nail. Still, in the future theatre still exists and there is a continued appreciation for beauty and culture as seen in the Symphony and the Museum of Civilization. Ultimately, Mandel seeks to contrast the two ways of life by writing the novel out of chronological order and juxtapose the fears and hopes of people from both sides of the epidemic.
Discuss the upbringing of the Prophet and how that affects his future life. How does he come to gain and wield power?
Tyler was an unhappy child born of a broken marriage. Arthur never spent enough time with his son and Tyler came of age during the traumatic events of the Georgia Flu. Because of his mother Elizabeth's belief that "everything happens for a reason," Tyler ultimately adopts the attitude that the flu must be a part of a greater story. He comes to wield power by gaining followers and helping them make sense of a non-sensical event.
What is the significance of the museum? Does the ending of the novel portend a bright or somber future?
The museum is a symbol of being able to respect the past while looking towards the future. Clark organizes the museum to educate visitors on the way the world is from a perspective of knowledge, rather than longing. The telescope in the tower is a symbol of looking forward to the possibilities of the world. Ending the novel with the possibility that there could be electricity after years of darkness portends progress towards rebuilding the world.