Station Eleven

Station Eleven Summary and Analysis of Section 6: The Airplane


August and Kirsten break into an untouched home, where they find shelter for the night. Inside they discuss the theory of parallel universes and whether or not there is a parallel universe where the flu never happened. August talks of his pre-flu ambitions to be a physicist. Kirsten talks of a world where she has no knife tattoos.

Kirsten finds a celebrity gossip magazine that talks about Miranda visiting with Arthur in his dressing room at the theatre in Toronto on the night that he died. She tries to remember if she was present. She remembers coloring book materials, but not much else. She then realizes that the mark that Finn, the lone man from the gas station, bore on his face was actually an airplane.

Miranda, two weeks before the Georgia Flu outbreak, flies back home to Toronto. As she drives through the city, she is haunted by memories of herself in a city that at one time seemed much bigger: herself as young woman in the wrong clothes, and herself recently divorced, crying over a tabloid headline speculating about her relationship with Arthur. Arthur has called her to tell her that his father has died, but she remembers very little of him. She wonders why he called her: he then realizes that Arthur is currently unmarried.

She prepares herself to visit Arthur, dressing as much like an executive as she can. She arrives at the theater and is swarmed by paparazzi waiting outside. She is photographed as she goes in. She makes it into his dressing room and finds Arthur a different man than the one she last saw eleven years ago. She notices a look of disappointment in his eyes and new speech patterns when he talks about acting.

Arthur then reveals that the book Dear V. will be released soon and apologizes in advance for the personal details it will reveal. He admits that he treated Victoria more like a diary than a person, which is why he suspects she sold out his privacy to make a profit. Miranda is angry at first, but then sees the sadness of the fact that she never wrote back to Arthur.

Kirsten enters the room with a coloring book to say hello to Arthur. While Kirsten is in the room, Miranda gives Arthur a gift of two copies of her Station Eleven. They discuss the graphic novel and talk to Kirsten, before Miranda leaves to return to the hotel. When she’s there, she remembers the paperweight she had meant to give Arthur. She arranges for it to be sent to the theater.

Two weeks later, Miranda is in Singapore for business. She has heard about the Georgia Flu crisis, but ultimately does not think it is serious. She walks to the beach to kill some time and looks out at the large cargo vessels in the harbor. This is when she gets the call from Clark that Arthur has died.

Clark has an infuriating conversation with Arthur’s lawyer Heller, and decides to contact Elizabeth Colton. He notifies her of funeral arrangements, and they agree to meet in Toronto, which is where Arthur has requested to be buried. Clark leaves for Toronto the next day, and by a stroke of luck avoids the infection that is spreading all around him. He runs into Elizabeth Colton and her eight year old son Tyler on the airplane.

Miranda wakes up in her hotel room feeling very ill. All she wants is to be outside. She struggles to put on her shoes but somehow makes it through the now-deserted hotel. She finds her way to the beach, and lays down on a chaise lounge. She wakes to a brilliant sunrise reminiscent of the views from Station Eleven, and then on the beach below the brilliant sky, Miranda Carroll dies.


This section of the novel jumps rapidly between time periods, revolving around the events that occurred before and after Arthur’s death in Toronto. Though the section is called “Toronto,” the narrative moves between Toronto, Singapore, and New York City. This section gives a sense of the international nature of the story and the effects of the flu nationwide.

Mandel introduces the scene of Miranda’s reunion with Arthur twenty years in the future through Kirsten’s discovery of the tabloid magazine. Kirsten is only vaguely familiar with the circumstances; her cloudy memory only holds fleeting impressions. Mandel then reveals exactly how the event played out, with Kirsten as a brief but very present witness to the events.

Again, in this section of the novel Mandel plays with memory. The premise that Miranda has not seen Arthur in eleven years allows for her to ruminate on the events that have occurred previously in the novel. The selective memories she has of the dinner party further explores how memory plays a role in our identity, both in the pre-flu and post-flu worlds. Miranda's confused remembrance of Arthur’s father further builds upon the motif of the ephemeral nature of memory.

Miranda also builds her identity on more than just memory. She consciously uses her clothing as armor and constructs her identity out of her outfit choices. This exposes how much emphasis she now puts on her personal appearance as a way of presenting herself to the outside world. The Miranda that was married to Arthur did not care much for conforming to the Hollywood world; now she is steeped in those rules.

The death of Miranda is full of imagery of sky and water. Fittingly, she thinks of Station Eleven as she expires, the undersea world which is mirrored by the water in front of her. Miranda dies looking out at vessels of the sea, the airplanes of the element with which she most identifies.