In them spread their ideas of a greater meaning,

In Emily St. John Mandel’s novel, Station Eleven, we move backward and forwards through time, from the extravagant past to almost twenty years into the post-apocalyptic world, where the Georgia Flu has to lead to the collapse of civilization. Charting the Traveling Symphony, a group of musicians and actors traversing the Great Lakes region in the former United States, preserving art through Shakespearean plays. The reader follows the path of Elizabeth, the ex-wife to the eccentric actor Arthur, and his only son Tyler. In this world where people are able to find comfort in faith, we seem them spread their ideas of a greater meaning, revealing that through the use of biblical imagery, one can employ power over people’s choices.During the morning of the collapse, we find Elizabeth and Tyler on a flight to see Arthur, this flight will not make it to its final destination. They are forced to land at a small airport in Severn City which becomes the permanent resting place of many of the surrounding airports shut down. In the days that follow, Tyler becomes increasingly distant from his surroundings, he finds interest in the Air Gradia jet, that voluntarily quarantined themselves at the end of the tarmac. One day Clark, one of Arthur’s best friends, comes across Tyler reading aloud from the Book of Revelations from the Bible. Tyler stares up at the plane, “I just want them to know that it happened for a reason” (Station Eleven, pg. 259). Tyler is clearly affected by the collapse, and finds comfort from his mother’s religious influence as he questions, “what if we were saved for a different reason?” (Pg. 260). This is the first instance of biblical symbolism in the book, he is convinced that God has purified the earth, and has saved a remnant of human civilization which he calls the light. His choice of becoming enthralled with this idea that he is the light that allows him to bring together his army.    Some years later, when the prophet is relishing is the power of his disciples, the symphony unknowingly enter his territory in search of their friends. It is clear very little of the outside world’s freedom, even in a world where there is no law or government. It also is apparent that he is able to instill this fear with just that, fear. He plays the role of god, and what lays beyond his territory is death. We see this symbolized with the gravestones that littered the outer limits of his territory. This symphony might just have been the first outsiders they have seen for many years. The prophet, as crafty as he lets his people for once enjoy a show. After the show he has to once more remind his people of his divine plan, proceeding to personify ” the virus like an avenging angel” (pg. 60).  He is explaining to this people that this virus, a thing without motive, has the ability to make decisions. Once more reiteration his idea that there are rhyme and reason to who was able to live and who perished. The prophet organizes death into order, with logic, where some are plucked off and others forced to wander the world unknown to all. At the end of the night, it once more allows him to exert his power of those he meets and capitalize on his words, in a time of unknown we find comfort in someone who acts the part of the all-knowing.Tyler was unhappy even prior to the collapse, he dreamt of spending more time with his dad. Sadly the Georgia Flu wiped all those dreams. Because of his mother’s belief that “everything happens for a reason” (pg. 249). Of course, Tyler adopted this attitude to comfort him by making sense of a nonsensical event. He uses this same comfort to control his people. This idea the supernatural belief provide a piece of mind and help believers cope with the more stressful event in their lives. During the same night of the symphonies arrival to the prophets territory, he mentions the story of Noah’s ark, “The light we carry within us is the ark that carried Noah and his people over the face of the terrible waters” (pg.60) He takes the well-known story of Noah’s arc and manipulates it in such a way to show how his people are the light. The applause that the symphony received was genuine, despite being surrounded by members of the prophets army. In a world where survival is prioritized, we see that there is a desire for free time and leisure. We need art and entertainment, as well as faith. Some such as the traveling symphony turned to theatre, and others such as the prophets cult, turn to religion. After all, “survival is insufficient.” Station Eleven, is almost enough cause to stock up on supplies before the avenging angel will reduce the population, however, the reader must understand that though religion is a comforting thought yet your choices will not be yours to make. Tyler the prophet and his idea of religion and greater meaning allow him to empower his followers. 

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