Present day Toronto, Los Angeles, and New York; Year 19 Post-Georgia Flu throughout the Midwest United States
Narrator and Point of View
The narration is evenly split between the perspectives of the characters Kirsten, Jeevan, Arthur, and Miranda depending on which time period the section is set in
Tone and Mood
The tone of Station Eleven walks the line between contemplative and dramatic/tense, with essays on the simple pleasures lost after the collapse of civilization in between the adventure of the primary plot
Protagonist and Antagonist
For the main through-line of the story, Kirsten is the protagonist and the Prophet is the antagonist; however, ultimately the Georgia Flu is the antagonist to humanity
The primary conflict in Station Eleven is the kidnapping of members of the Symphony by the Prophet and Kirsten's search to find them.
The climax of the novel is the altercation between Kirsten and the Prophet outside of the Severn City Airport, where ultimately Arthur's actions in the past save Kirsten's life.
Foreshadowing occurs throughout the novel before the intertwining of the stories of the main characters. The narrator mentions the coming epidemic in the opening section, hinting when Miranda uses a phone that it "was during the final month of the era when it was possible to press a series of buttons on a telephone and speak with someone on the far side of the earth" and mentioning how characters would die after the epidemic hits.
As the Georgia Flu epidemic begins, various characters miscalculate the devastating effects it will have. Jeevan's girlfriend refers to it as “that thing in Russia or wherever?" and compares it to "SARS" before it likely claims her life.
The novel is filled with allusions to both classic literature, such as the plays "King Lear" and "A Midsummer Nights Dream," and to popular modern songs such as "Don't Stop Believing" and "It's the End of the World."
The essays written about the comforts of modern life lost in the era of the flu are full of imagery that highlights the beauty of the commonplace. Mandel repeatedly highlights imagery of airplanes. In the first essay, she spends a paragraph elaborating in vivid detail the miracle of flight: "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."
There are two primary examples of paradox in Station Eleven. The first is the concept that the more survivors remember about their old lives, the more they have actually lost. Those who remember less about the past do not have to suffer the sadness of longing for the past. The unfolding of Arthur and Miranda's relationship is also paradoxical. Miranda begins her relationship with Arthur being unfaithful to her boyfriend Pablo, but falls in love and has a genuine connection with Arthur. Their love story unfolds, but Arthur ends up being unfaithful to Miranda and marries Elizabeth. The paradox of finding love and losing it is a pattern in Arthur's marriages.
The parallelism between the experiences of those in the post-Georgia Flu world and the characters in the graphic novel Station Eleven are an uncanny coincidence. In the graphic novel, Dr. Eleven lives in a space station with other humans who all simply wish to return to their old life on earth. The survivors also crave the opportunity to rebuild a world on earth with the same comforts that they used to remember.
Metonymy and Synecdoche
The Prophet personifies the disease as a deity that comes to cleanse the human race, choosing between the righteous and the sinners. This is the basis of his cult––the virus is a deity that separates the good from the bad. He says in his first sermon in St. Deborah: "then came a virus like an avenging angel, unsurvivable, a microbe that reduced the population of the fallen."
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.