Rich description of theatre pieces, concerts, and music create a through-line in Station Eleven. Great detail goes into describing the costumes in the professional production of King Lear as well as the stolen costumes from homes for the Midsummer Night's Dream Production. In listing the aspects of the world that has gone away, there is particular care in describing concerts: "No more concert stages lit by candy-colored halogens, no more electronica, punk, electric guitars."
Mandel makes a special point to highlight the miracle of flight in describing what is missing from the post-flu world. At every opportunity, characters discuss how they remember watching airplanes flying overhead, and note how their absence creates a feeling of emptiness. The following passage gives a great example of how she utilizes imagery:
"No more flight. No more towns glimpsed from the sky through airplane windows, points of glimmering light; no more looking down from thirty thousand feet and imagining the lives lit up by those lights at that moment. No more airplanes, no more requests to put your tray table in its upright and locked position—but no, this wasn’t true, there were still airplanes here and there."
The imagery of the underwater city of Station Eleven serves as a parallel to the life on earth that is no longer as it was. Station Eleven is described in detail as an underwater city in which are missing the simple pleasures of life on earth: sun, foliage, wind. Miranda herself dies at the water, completing the her life surrounded by the substance that was the hallmark of the world she imagined in her graphic novel.
The imagery of death is a consistent through-line in the novel. As the survivors travel, they encounter corpses in a myriad of places: the inside of cars, the side of the roads, and even sick in bed. As Kirsten and Dieter scavenge a home for supplies, the find the "husk" of a body still in bed. At the airport, we are forced to imagine the unseen deaths of those still trapped and quarantined in the airplane. Even years after, the denizens of the airport are forced to imagine what horrors lie inside.
Station Eleven Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Station Eleven is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.