“Life doesn’t get easier or more forgiving, we get strongerand more resilient” (Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free). Author Emily St. John Mandel uses each character’s methods in intense situations throughout the novel Station Eleven to show human resilience in survival.
Through Jeevan, a character in the novel, Mandel illustrates resilience. Jeevan is repetitively repeating “Keep walking. Keep walking. Keep walking” (Mandel 194) through days of walking. Jeevan walks for over five days being hungry, alone, and cold. What keeps him driven is when he constantly tells himself to walk further and do not stop even if he has nobody waiting for him in a specific location or time. Jeevan pushes himself to survive and challenges his limits. “It was becoming more difficult to hold on to himself” (Mandel 194). As the rest of the world collapses, Jeevan was faced with the challenge of holding onto himself because of the epidemic and thinking he is the only soul alive in the world. Mandel has Jeevan feel scared of being killed or attacked, enough to have him go crazy. To make sure Jeevan did not build any insanity, he repeats his “Jeevan” and everything that he has done leading to the flu. It was Jeevan’s method to not forget who he is and hold on to himself. Jeevan, later on, settled down close to the Severn city airport where he starts a family of his own. Mandel gives Jeevan the opportunity to live in a world after the Georgia flu and this shows humans must be able to adapt to challenges and obstacles. Humans live amongst difficulties although it may or may not impact them directly. The human species survive regardless of the dangers that face them and overcome difficulties to live. Author Mandel illustrates at the end of the novel, Jeevan is happy for his outcome to not persevere because resilience is natural to humans. Characters in the novel like Jeevan would rather live on no matter the challenges and obstacles than dying. Mandel showed the readers resilience through a character that believed he was the last in the world alive.
In the novel, the narrator conveyed resilience which people should have under the destruction of the Georgia Flu. This can be illustrated through character Miranda, the ex-wife of Arthur. She journeys for modern civilization and its life, Mandel has her never lose hope on life in the future, even though her death was tragic but still appealing. She always escapes from the typical lifestyle, but she still faced its norms. In the comic book she created, it defines what ideas she opinionated about the current and future world. Miranda felt there has is hope and reason to continue surviving in the world. Mandel showed this concept the time Clark read her books (Mandel 332).
The conflict between Jeevan and his brother, Frank. Jeevan has a survives the ability to move ahead and continue living after Frank takes his own life. Mandel illustrates the idea to hold on to self is not enough. Frank held his opposite side to the conflicting thoughts of Jeevan. Frank, being the pessimist and realist he is, would continue surviving without goals and destinations leading his death. However, his brother had visions on restoring human society and modern civilization. Jeevan drove himself to revert the current tragedy to modern society and survive. Although, along with the journey, he had to go through obstacles and face hard challenges just for his survival. The suicide of Frank indirectly supports the narrator’s vision of the feeling of living in this collapsed world, the importance of resilience.
Another way Mandel portrayed resilience was the existence of the traveling symphony and another character, Kirsten. Unlike every other character, they persevered for the hope of the future world and its advance. They faced just as many challenges as the rest of the characters in the novel. They continue to deliver performances of their best works left from human society prior to the pandemic. The Symphony is constantly encouraging the human race blinded by the dangers of the tragedies, to keep living and survive. Mandel has them create essences and the historical works of Shakespeare to enlighten the atmosphere of fears and hopelessness in the world. Their goal was to pull humans out from the dark that was society they lived in. Kirsten says, “We long only to go home, we dream of sunlight, we dream of walking on earth. “(Mandel 302). She wants to convey the idea that surviving for however long they choose does not seem any different from death, other than living on. Kirsten believes that it is better to have hope and to be driven to work on survival. Mandel illustrates that when people continue living with their dreams and creating new methods and efficiency during the survival period, those people had never lost their journey and vision on a brighter future.
Clark Thompson resides in two different dimensions. He exists in a world is intertwined with another world of its own. As shown in the novel, “Toward the end of his second decade in the airport, Clark was thinking about how lucky he’d been. Not just the mere fact of survival, which was remarkable but to have seen one world end and another begin,” (Mandel 231). The Severn City Airport combines the remains of what is left of the old and new civilizations. A haven of a new future and a refuge for what remains from the past. The central concept is not only rebuilding the realm to its former glory but also to overcome the difficulties of the post-collapse world. The Museum of Civilization is an archive within the airport that contains compilations of artifacts from the previous world. Clark the archivist, the keeper of the former world and its historical significances. One artifact in the museum that values as the most priceless to him is a newspaper that mentions Arthur Leander, a former mentor, and a friend.
Kirsten and Tyler are two conflicting characters that challenge Kirsten’s resilience. Arthur impacted both of their lives. Although Arthur is Tyler’s father, he is a mentor and father figure to Kirsten. However, because Kirsten a life with Arthur longer than Tyler did in their youth, it later formed the person who each became as an adult. Both Tyler and Kirsten are about the same age, living in the pandemic of the Georgia Flu. They each receive copies of the Station Eleven comic books from Arthur, which inspired them to become strong survivors in the world. Kirsten, who remembers much of her youth, “Whatever else the prophet had become, he’d once been a boy adrift on the road, and perhaps he’d had the misfortune of remembering everything.” (Mandel 304). Both are challenged to live and survive with the situations and obstacles in the post-collapse world. Kirsten’s personal vision is one that becomes a reality rather than Tyler’s, which is more conceptual. Tyler never felt he had a close family or friends like Kirsten does with the Symphony. His mother, Elizabeth, and his religious beliefs and ideals led him down a journey of discovering optimism through pessimistic methods. Thus Tyler became the prophet. He envisioned to revert the world that is to the realm before the Georgia Flu. His ideas consisted solely on forming the ideal utopia that benefits everyone. Sadly, the risks he enforced to try to make that utopia reality were irrational and extreme. Ultimately, Tyler (the prophet) paid for his actions and it led to his immediate downfall.
In conclusion, resilience is shown throughout the entire novel and each character faces the challenges of their survival in the collapsed world. Each of them journey through their own external conflicts, whilst conflicting with their own ability to continue to survive.
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