Station Eleven

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Station Eleven Chapter 53 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Back before the collapse, on his last morning on earth, Arthur is tired. He has decided that when Lear closes, he will move to Israel so he can see his son Tyler every day. He goes to the theatre for notes but is distracted, and ends up taking a taxi to his old neighborhood. There, he finds a café he used to frequent and thinks about calling Clark, but decides against it.
The novel here jumps back to where it began, picking up with Arthur Leander in the production of Lear. He has chosen to make a major change in his life, though he will be unable to enact it given that he will die on stage that very evening.
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At the theatre again, he talks with Tanya in his dressing room. She keeps telling Arthur that he looks terrible, and that he must have forgotten that they were supposed to meet for breakfast that morning. She asks if he’s sure he’s not sick, but he says he’s just tired. As they drink wine, Arthur shows Tanya a copy of the “Station Eleven” comic books and says he has sent the other set to Tyler. Arthur doesn’t really understand the comics, but fondly remembers Miranda creating them.
Though Tanya seems to know Arthur is truly unwell, he ignores her. Arthur here explains how Tyler (later the prophet) has come to possess copies of the “Station Eleven” comic books. Arthur has no idea what significance they will hold for his son, and he doesn’t understand the art, but he does have pleasant memories of when Miranda made them.
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Before Tanya leaves to look after the children, Arthur gives her the glass paperweight. She thanks him, and tells him to let her know if Kirsten shows up in his dressing room. Within fifteen minutes, Kirsten does arrive to tell Arthur that her mother has purchased Dear V. Arthur takes this opportunity to give her the other “Dr. Eleven” comics, because he doesn’t want anything other than his son.
This moment is the penultimate exchange of the paperweight, which has made its way through Clark, Miranda, Arthur, and now Tanya. After learning how Tyler received his comics, we learn how Kirsten receives hers, as Arthur gives them to her in an effort to shed his possessions.
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After getting into his costume, Arthur goes back to Tanya to tell her that he has decided to pay her student loans off. He wants to move to Israel anyways, and feels like he should help her get rid of her debt before he goes.
In another gesture of kindness, Arthur tells Tanya of his intent to pay her loans, indicating the desire that Gary Heller will mention to Clark after Arthur’s death and during the budding collapse.
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Fifteen minutes before the show starts, Arthur calls Tyler, who is angry with Arthur since he won’t be in Israel for Tyler’s birthday. Tyler loves the “Station Eleven” comic books, and begins excitedly explaining them to his father. This will be their last conversation, though Arthur believes he’ll see his son in a week.
In their last conversation, Tyler tells his father that he loves the comic books. The tragedy of Tyler’s transformation into the prophet is made greater by the fact that Arthur was about to move across the globe to spend more time with Tyler, but was stifled by a heart attack (and the Flu).
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Arthur takes his place on stage before the show begins. He is supposed to sit on a high pillar while the audience files in for a visual effect. He hates it and feels self-conscious. He thinks of Miranda, remembering an instance when he overheard her saying “I regret nothing.” He considers himself to be a man who regrets everything, and sitting up on the pillar is agony before the play begins. But he has devised a way to gain self-confidence before the performances. As he waits for his cue, he thinks through a list of all the good things in his life.
In contrast to Miranda’s supposed lack of regrets, at the end of his life Arthur seems to regret everything he has ever done. In order to maintain composure on stage, he escapes into happy memories and reflections on the good things in his life. He shows no indication that he knows he’ll soon be dead.
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When he is halfway through the list, Arthur gets his cue, and gets ready for the play to begin. Later, just before he takes the stage, Kirsten tells him that she read the beginning of the comic books and that she loves them. Arthur walks onto the stage and bungles his line, and he has trouble catching his breath. He feels a sharp pain on his chest, staggers, holds his hands to his chest, and remembers doing a similar motion with a wounded bird on Delano Island with his brother. He delivers his final, misplaced line “The wren goes to’t, the wren…” and cradles his heart like he cradled the bird , while a man rises in the audience. He is lost in between memories and the fake snow shining in the stage lights, and as he dies he thinks it is the most beautiful thing he has ever seen.
Like Tyler, Kirsten loves the “Station Eleven” comic books, though she has only read part of them. We then see the opening moments of the novel from Arthur’s perspective, as he suffers from a heart attack and gets lost in memories of his childhood. Though his death is different from Miranda’s in the sense that she is alone and he dies publicly on stage, both of them experience visions of extreme beauty and light in the moments of their death. Though the death is tragic, it also gives Arthur one final beautiful experience.
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