Station Eleven is about survivors and overcoming serious events. Emily St. John Mandel went through a series of different themes in the book, some maybe she didn’t realize she included. Themes of death and survival play a big part of the storyline and create a great story. The book starts out with the death of Arthur Leander, which portrays that there will be more deaths of others throughout the story. After the initial death of Arthur, the story jumps to portray a world where 99 percent of the population is wiped out from a global disease. Arthur dying and the world being wiped out shows how death can affect personally and globally. Arthur’s death affects Kirsten because she is so young and doesn’t understand death like Jeevan would because he is much older and more experienced in the world. Arthur was an important character in Kirsten and Jeevan’s lives and his death affected them. The novel is able to show us how differently people react to Arthur’s passing. Arthur was important to the people he worked with and when he passed, people were shocked and saddened. “In the lobby, the people gathered at the bar and clinked their glasses together. “To Arthur,” they said. They drank for a few more minutes and then went their separate ways in the storm” (Mandel 15). This quote shows how important Arthur was to them by having a toast in his honor before all going their separate ways. They all may be different but they all have one thing in common, and that is Arthur.
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Similar to the theme of death, the theme of survival is frequently noticeable in the novel. Survivors of the epidemic wonder why they survived and others did not. The novel shows how surviving for some drove them to find their meaning in survival. For example, Elizabeth and Taylor both survived and their drive to find the meaning was becoming very religious. Jeevan is another one of the survivors, but him surviving is different from some of the other survivors. Jeevan surviving was purely luck because he had warning from a friend that the sickness was coming and that he needed to get out of the city as quickly as he could. Surviving a horrible sickness is always random, after the world collapses, the survivors have to continue to survive in the dangerous world that was once safe. Kirsten’s tattoos of the knives show just what they will do to survive. “I stood looking over my damaged home and tried to forget the sweetness of life on Earth” (Mandel 42). This quote shows how their survival has changed them and how they look at the world now that it is damaged and dangerous. The home they remember is now in shambles and they have to fight to survive.